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Askelson named interim executive director of RIAS

UND alumnus and atmospheric Sciences faculty member specializes in UAS integration research

Mark Askelson
Mark Askelson, a UND alumnus, brings a wealth of relevant knowledge and experience to his new position as interim executive director of the Research Institute for Autonomous Systems. Photo by Jackie Lorentz.

Longtime UND Aerospace faculty member in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences Mark Askelson will serve as the Interim Executive Director for the University’s new Research Institute for Autonomous Systems (RIAS), according to a recent release.

Askelson, a UND alumnus, brings a wealth of relevant knowledge and experience to this position and the objectives of the RIAS. As a professor of atmospheric sciences, he specializes in detect and avoid technologies, unmanned aircraft systems and data analysis and modeling in atmospheric sciences.

“The lofty aspirations of the Research Institute for Autonomous Systems are now matched with the capable leadership of Dr. Mark Askelson,” says UND President Mark Kennedy, “As Interim Executive Director, Mark brings a breadth of expertise to the head position. That expertise 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 (NDUS). 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 NDUS and with the private sector.

The RIAS is focused on five research areas: autonomous platforms, data supply chain, cybersecurity, unmanned and autonomous applications, and related policy. The 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.

Askelson received two bachelor degrees (meteorology and mathematics) from UND 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 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 be able to do even more to carry the torch for this important initiative.   Askelson’s cutting-edge research in data collection and analysis in UAS and atmospheric sciences for the benefit of society, as well as his interaction with his students –the next generation of atmospheric scientists — makes him a Leader in Action on campus, and one of the reasons UND recently was named by U.S. News & World Report as one of the Most Innovative schools in the nation.

-University Presidential Fellow Brandon Beyer and UND Today Editor David Dodds contributed to this report.