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Rice Space Institute

Speaker Profiles and Presentations

Synergies Between Space and Offshore Exploration

Robert Ambrose
Division Chief of the Software, Robotics and Simulation Division

Robert Ambrose received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in Mechanical Engineering.  He received his M.S. and B. S. degrees from Washington University in St. Louis.  Dr. Ambrose currently serves as the Division Chief of the Software, Robotics and Simulation Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston Texas, USA.  The SR&S Division is responsible for flight spacecraft software, space robotics and system simulations for human spaceflight missions.  Within the Division are five Branches responsible for managing on-orbit robotic systems for the International Space Station, development of software for the Multi Purpose Crew Vehicle and future Human Spaceflight systems, simulations for engineering development and training, hardware and software GFE, hardware in the loop facilities for anomaly resolution and crew training, and the technology Branch for development of new robotic systems.  Dr. Ambrose also serves as a Principal Investigator for NASA’s Office of Chief Technologist (OCT), overseeing research performed in the Human-Robotics Systems Project and other new starts.  He co-chairs the OCT Robotics, Tele-Robotics and Autonomous Systems roadmap team for the agency’s technology program, and is the robotics lead for the agency’s human spaceflight architecture study teams.  Working with the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Dr. Ambrose is the Technical Point of Contact for NASA’s collaboration in the National Robotics Initiative (NRI).  He is married to Dr. Catherine G. Ambrose and lives in Houston Texas.



Hans A. Bratfos
Director of Technology
Det Norske Veritas (DNV), Division Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa

Hans Bratfos is Director of Technology for DNV, Division Americas and Sub-Saharan Africa, with main office in Houston.Hans has a master degree in metallurgy from 1980 from NTNU, Norway, and he has about 30 years of experience with technical advisory services to the maritime and the oil & gas industries.


BRATFOS PRESENTATION:  Managing the risk of major accidents


Robert Curl
Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences Emeritus
Rice University

Dr. Robert F. Curl is the Kenneth S. Pitzer-Schlumberger Professor of Natural Sciences Emeritus and University Professor Emeritus at Rice University, Houston, Texas. He served as Chair of the Chemistry Department, 1992-1996, and as Master of Lovett College (Rice University) 1968-1972.  Dr. Curl graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1954 from Rice Institute.  He received his Ph.D. at theUniversity of California, Berkeley, in 1957, and was a Research Fellow at Harvard University from 1957-1958. He began his teaching career at Rice as an Assistant Professor in 1958.  Dr. Curl’s research focus is in physical chemistry, where his research activities have been in several fields, with the most consistent theme being high-resolution spectroscopy.  He is most well known as one of the co-discoverers of the carbon cage compounds called the fullerenes, for which he received, jointly with Richard Smalley and Harold Kroto, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, fellow of the American Optical Society, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Chemical Society, Sigma Xi, Phi Lambda Upsilon, and Phi Beta Kappa.

CURL PRESENTATIONNanotechnology: Focus on Materials


Steven A. González
Deputy of the Strategic Analysis and Integration Office

Mr. González serves as the Deputy of the Strategic Analysis and Integration Office at the NASA/Johnson Space Center (JSC), which is responsible for the strategic analysis in support of the long range strategy of the Johnson Space Center.  He has over 24 years of experience in the aerospace industry.  Prior to this position, Mr. González was the NASA Executive Liaison at the Houston Technology Center responsible for the aerospace sector.  Additionally Mr. González was the Deputy of the Advanced Planning Office, responsible for the 20 year strategy for the center.  He has served as the Chief of the Operations Research and Strategic Development Branch within the Mission Operations Directorate.  He has received numerous awards and was nominated as one of the 100 Most Important Hispanics in Technology and Business.  He also received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the JSC Certificate of Commendation.  He received his Masters of Science at Texas A&M University and his Bachelors at Boston University.

GONZALEZ PRESENTATIONNASA initiatives in Space and Energy


Geir Hovmork
Deputy Director General of the Norwegian Space Centre

Hovmork has been involved in space activities since 1981. First as project engineer and project leader at various satcom projects at the Space Activity Division of the Royal Norwegian Council for Scientific and Indsutrial Research(NTNF-R). When the Norwegian Space Centre (NSC) was established in 1987 he become Head of the Space Transportation section. Since 1994 he was Director for Industrial Development and from 2006 also the Deputy DG of the NSC. He represents Norway on various boards including ESA Council and subcommittees.  He holds  M.Sc Electronic Engineering from the Technical University of Trondheim.

HOVMORK PRESENTATIONSynergies between Space and Energy


Robert Vajtai, Ph.D.
Faculty Fellow
Mechanical Engineering and Material Science
Rice University

Dr. Robert Vajtai first joined Dr. Ajayan’s research group at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in July 2000 spending his sabbatical there with a NATO-NSF Fellowship. Dr. Vajtai received his M.S. degree in physics and his Ph.D. degree in solid-state physics from University of Szeged, Hungary (the highest ranked university in Hungary), in 1986 and 1997, respectively. From 1987 to 2002 he was a faculty member of the Experimental Physics Department of Szeged University, Hungary. He was rewarded by the Bolyai Fellowship of the Hungarian Scientific Academy for 1999-2000. He also spent sabbatical time as a Fellow of the Swedish Institute in The Ångström Laboratory in Uppsala, Sweden from 1998 to 1999; as an Eötvös Fellow at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland from 1995 to 1996 and he also visited the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany in 1993 via Max Planck Fellowship. Between 2003 and 2008 he was a Laboratory Manager at the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center, RPI, Troy, NY managing the nanoparticle generation by inert gas deposition and the carbon nanotechnology laboratories. His work is focused on growth and applications of carbon nanotube structures.

VAJTAI PRESENTATION:  New avenues in energy storage