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Welcome to the American Public University Space Studies Research Program!

APUS owns and operates a Planewave CDK24 telescope equipped with a highly sophisticated digital camera and serves as a critical technological asset in the University’s Space Studies curriculum. This fully remote-controlled telescope is a testament to the school's commitment to providing innovative online instruction. It is also a valued resource for faculty and students in the APUS Department of Space Studies, both of whom can use the telescope regularly to perform original astronomical research and for educational purposes. 

Collected images are used in the classroom and for laboratory instruction by faculty. "We're not just going to websites and pulling down images for our astronomy students. We're using the observatory to collect our own research data," says Space Studies Program Director Dr. Edward Albin.

Graduate-level students work with faculty to collect original astronomical data for their research and thesis projects. Undergraduate students have the opportunity to assist in analyzing the data, thus gaining authentic hands-on observational experience. “We are one of only a few online universities with a Space Studies program that operates such a large telescope. This gives our students a very nice edge when it comes to graduating and entering the career field," states Dr. Albin.


Research Team


Dr. Edward Albin

Department Chair

Dr. Albin holds the rank of Associate Professor and is the Department Chair for the Space Studies program.
His passion is for planetary science. He has been involved in the field of space studies for more than 35 years, and most of his research has centered around the study of the Moon, Mars, and asteroids. He also has a lifelong love for aviation and is a certified commercial helicopter pilot.


Dr. Kristen Miller

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Kristen Miller is an associate professor of Space Studies at APUS.  She received her doctoral degree in theoretical astrophysics from the University of Maryland. Currently, Dr. Miller leads the Supernova Search Program at APUS, the APUS Analog Research group, and the NEO-Orbits group. Dr. Miller is the co-advisor of the APUS student chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She is the section chair for the Women in Space session of the SESA 2021 conference and serves on various committees at the university. 
Dr. Miller’s favorite quote:  “I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night”  (Sarah Williams)


Dr. Katelyn Milliman

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Katelyn Milliman was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in Astronomy and Physics, and received her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Currently she is an Assistant Professor in the Space Studies Department at APUS and lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.

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Dr. Jeremy Wood

Faculty Advisor

Dr. Wood's research is in the area of dynamics of small solar system bodies. Personally, he enjoys science fiction, and military history. He has been teaching college for 30 years.


Melanie Crowson

Faculty Advisor

Melanie is the Education Director for PARI, graduated from APU in 2020 with her Master's degree in Astronomy with honors, is the former vice chair for SEDS USA, and is the Darrell Cain award recipient of 2017. She has participated in and conducted research projects on variable stars, with a passion for astronomy starting at the age of 7. Melanie was homeschooled through high school and built a telescope with her Dad.


Salina Peña

Lead Researcher

Salina recently earned her Bachelor of Science in Space Studies with APUS and continues her endeavor working on her Master's of Science with a concentration in Astronomy. She has over ten years of experience teaching Physics, Astronomy, and Space Science in South Dakota and Arizona. She has also earned her Master's of Arts in Education with two majors in Curriculum and STEM.  Salina is married with three beautiful daughters, who are ages 21, 14, and 2. They enjoy camping, hiking, and stargazing as a family in their free time.   


Terry Trevino

Faculty Advisor/Lead Researcher

Terry is a Ph.D. candidate, as well as Assistant Manager to the APUS’ Telescope Observatory. His research in space includes searching for answers to pressing questions related to stellar interiors and the Kessler syndrome. A tinkerer and get-it-done type of person, Terry seeks Kaizen in San Francisco, California, where he raises four children with his rock star wife. They climb big mountains and are designing and funding a water project in the Khumbu Valley, Phortse Village, Nepal.


Ryan Naldolski

Training Coordinator

Ryan is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Space Studies with a concentration in Astronomy through American Military University. Ryan was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and joined the Navy in 2017 as a Master-at-Arms. During his service, he traveled and deployed to Bahrain and Europe. He successfully implemented the DoD SkillBridge program for his Real Estate company, allowing active-duty service members the opportunity to transition from active duty to veteran smoothly. Ryan is heavily involved in military veteran talent acquisition and veteran recruiting around the world. He is home-based in Baton Rouge, LA where he lives with his two rambunctious daughters.


Jason Cushard

Exoplanet Lead

Jason is a student and fellow advocate for public education and outreach in STEM fields. Currently, he is engaged in providing new opportunities to the public in how to conduct astronomy-focused research. He is a firm believer that everyone has potential and that if one is truly passionate about something, then one should seek out that dream of theirs. Previously, he was a Sergeant in the infantry as well as the CEO of a private security company. Additionally, Jason served as a volunteer intern at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute.


Melissa West

Website Coordinator

Melissa is a recent undergraduate from AMU majoring in Space Studies with a concentration in Astronomy. Her interest in solar dynamics, specifically solar magnetism and dynamo models, has blossomed over the years in hopes of working in NASA's Heliophysics division. In her spare time, she likes to bake and decorate sweet treats with her two girls.

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