Adele Payman studies fundamental plasma physics. She is particularly interested in how advances in basic plasma science from fusion research and laboratory astrophysics can be applied toward innovative propulsion concepts for deep space exploration.
Payman will start a doctoral program in applied physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in fall 2023, where she will work on theory and experiments to understand astrophysical plasmas.
While majoring in aerospace engineering at Georgia Tech, Payman also nurtured her love of physics, taking as many physics classes as she could fit into her schedule. In 2020, her team won gold in the Undergraduate Physics Competition for an analysis of electric propulsion trajectories to Saturn.
Outside of classes, Payman led Georgia Tech’s liquid rocketry team and interned every summer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), initially on the Europa Clipper mission and then in the electric propulsion group. In her most recent internship, she co-invented a compact, heaterless hollow cathode for hall thrusters that could supply ten times more power than previous comparable designs. Her experience working on large aerospace projects both at Georgia Tech and JPL has given her a deep appreciation for the organizational side of engineering. She believes that the people side of science and engineering is just as important to the success of a project as its technical merit.
Payman was born and raised in London, United Kingdom, and moved with her family to Southern California when she was 16 years old. She discovered a passion for outdoor adventure in the mountains around Los Angeles. In her spare time, she enjoys landscape photography and backpacking.