Askelson named interim executive director of UND Research Institute for Autonomous Systems

Mark Askelson has been named as the Interim Executive Director for the UND Research Institute for Autonomous Systems (RIAS).

He brings a wealth of relevant knowledge and experience to this position and the objectives of the RIAS. Askelson received two B.S. degrees (meteorology and mathematics) from the University of North Dakota in 1993 before moving on to attain both his Master’s (’96) and Ph.D. (’02) from the Department of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. As a professor of the Atmospheric Sciences Department at UND, he specializes in research areas consisting of detect and avoid technologies, unmanned aircraft systems, and atmospheric sciences through data analysis and modeling.

“The lofty aspirations of the Research Institute for Autonomous Systems are now matched with the capable leadership of Dr. Mark Askelson,” says President Mark Kennedy, “As Interim Executive Director, Askelson will bring a breadth of expertise to the head of the RIAS that will propel the institute forward as a global leader in the unmanned and autonomous systems industries.”

The RIAS was created to help integrate the expertise, infrastructure, activities, and resources of UND and the North Dakota University System. Its goal is to establish ongoing and sustainable externally funded unmanned and autonomous research leading to economic development and diversification in the state of North Dakota. The RIAS will encompass all research activities in unmanned and autonomous systems at UND and will provide significant opportunities for collaboration across the North Dakota University System and with the private sector.

The UND Research Institute for Autonomous Systems is focused on five research areas: autonomous platforms, data supply chain, cybersecurity, unmanned and autonomous applications, and related policy. These five disciplines serve the overall goals of the Institute by creating new autonomous systems through multidisciplinary research, driving the development of a diverse and sustainable economy, and serving as a global forum to develop public policies for autonomous systems.

As part of the One UND Strategic Plan, Askelson currently serves as the Champion for the UAS Grand Challenge, which seeks to drive world changing developments for the UAS industry at UND. As the Interim Executive Director for the RIAS, he will further be able to carry the torch for this important initiative.  For more information on RIAS, please visit