Dr. Jim Casler
Tel: (701) 777-3462
Jim Casler came to the Space Studies faculty in 2007 from private industry with over 25 years of practical experience in contributing to and leading large technical support organizations as well as engineering development organizations. Dr. Casler is an engineer by profession and training, registered to practice as an industrial engineer in South Dakota, North Dakota, and Maryland. He is also an experienced manager and practitioner with an interdisciplinary background, combining engineering and business.
He is a graduate of the Navy’s Test Pilot School and spent over 10 years directly involved in flight testing new aircraft and systems for the Marine Corps. For 11 years he held various engineering and management positions with what has become the Aerospace Group, Wyle Laboratories. For five of those years, he was the Senior Business Development Manager for Research and Development and was actively engaged in strategic planning and business development efforts oriented to new markets in aeronautical and aerospace research and development, primarily in the NASA engineering and technical services arena.
Dr. Casler did his doctoral research in human performance in space-based manufacturing settings and will continue to investigate future industrial, e.g., mining and manufacturing, operations on the surfaces of the Moon and Mars.
Tel: (701) 777-4856
Although Caitlin’s interest in space began at a young age, it was her high school physics teacher who truly encouraged her to pursue a STEM degree through his ability to make science both engaging and fun. Lucky enough to have such wonderful educators, she decided she wanted to help inspire others to study STEM fields through outreach and education.
Caitlin completed her B.S. in Astrophysics at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, with a senior project identifying infrared excess in red supergiants and luminous blue variables in nearby galaxies. She was also a teaching assistant for an introductory astronomy course, where she began to understand what it meant to communicate with individuals who do not have a strong interest in science, let alone space.
Caitlin’s involvement in Space Grant began as a graduate student at the University of North Dakota in 2010. She completed two research fellowships with a focus on informal STEM education and K-12 outreach, and a Graduate Research Assistantship as the UND Observatory operator. Her thesis work involved teaching Observational Astronomy to high school students and studying the impact various teaching styles can have on learners. She graduated with her M.S. in Space Studies after completing an internship at Marshall Space Flight Center. Her research at NASA focused on monitoring the dust production of outbursting comets.
Caitlin is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning with an emphasis in Higher Education while also serving as the Deputy Director for the NDSGC and ND NASA EPSCoR.
Tel: (701) 777-4161
Marissa Saad graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a Bachelor's degree in Astronomy and two minors in Education and Latin. After receiving her Massachusetts High School Earth Science Teaching License, she continued onwards to graduate school where she earned her Master of Science degree in Space Studies at the University of North Dakota.
At UND, she worked as the science lead on the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) mission, collaborating with the University of North Florida on NASA’s zero-pressure balloon launch. Working with the North Dakota Space Grant Consortium, Marissa coordinated the annual Near Space Balloon Launch (NSBC), a state-wide payload competition that promotes middle and high school STEM. She continued to merge high altitude balloon launches with hands-on STEM education for her master’s thesis, integrating a ballooning mission into the 8th grade curriculum for a Grand Forks middle school.
After graduating, Marissa traveled back to Massachusetts and gained experience working as a 12th grade teacher, instructing Earth Science, Environmental Science, and Chemistry classes. Now, she is excited to return to North Dakota Space Grant to work on innovative projects and to inspire the next generation of students in STEM.