Picture of Dr. Richard D. Branam

Associate Professor

Aerospace Engineering and Mechanics

222 Hardaway
 (205) 348-3233
 (205) 348-7240
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  • Ph.D., Aerospace Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, 2005
  • M.S., Aeronautical Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, 1997
  • B.S., Aeronautical Engineering, Ohio State University, 1993


Dr. Richard Branam teaches and researches in several areas of space propulsion. His lab actively investigates plasma thrusters, cathodes and laser diagnostics. He has worked with NASA and the U.S. Air Force on several collaborative projects.

He joined the faculty at The University of Alabama in 2014 after 25 years in the Air Force where he served as a researcher and engineer. His Air Force career has provided him with many unique experiences in the areas of space propulsion, systems engineering and program management.

He received his doctorate from Penn State University in 2005. His first faculty appointment was at the Air Force Institute of Technology. Branam has published research on rocket engines, combustion, laser diagnostics, hypersonics, space propulsion, and plasma dynamics.

Honors and Awards

  • Meritorious Service Medal, United States Armed Forces, 2011
  • Associate Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2008
  • Meritorious Service Medal, 2006
  • Harold C. Simmons Award, Best International Liquid Atomization and Spray Symposium Presentation, 2004
  • Air Force Commendation Medal, 2002, 1999, 1996
  • International Exchange Officer Top Researcher, 2002

Areas of Research

Latest Publications

  • McConnell, M. and Branam, R., “Coolant Design System for Liquid Propellant Aerospike Engines,” American Physical Society, Division of Fluid Dynamics 68th Annual Meeting, November 22-24, 2015.
  • Stevens, B. and Branam, R., “3-Dimensional Aerospike Nozzle Design,” American Physical Society, Division of Fluid Dynamics 68th Annual Meeting, November 22-24, 2015.
  • Thomas, L., Branam, R., and Reeder, M., “Flow Measurements Using Particle Image Velocimetry in the Ultracompact Combustor,” International Journal of Aerospace Engineering, Vol. 2012, Article ID 756463, 13 pages. doi: 10.1155/2012/756463
  • Kostka, S., Branam, R. D., Renfro, M. W., Lakusta, P. J., Gord, J. R., and Roy, S., “Laser-induced Fluorescence Measurements of Product Penetration within an Ultra-Compact Combustor,” Journal of Propulsion and Power, v. 28, 2012, pp. 617-624. doi: 10.2514/1.58692
  • Hartsfield, C., Branam, R., Hall, J. and Simmons, J., “Aerospike Rockets for Increased Space Launch Capability,” Air and Space Power Journal, Vol. 25, Issue 2, Summer 2011.