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Jonathan Black

Jonathan Black Headshot
Get to Know Me

My work impacts society...
by supporting the creation of the next generation of technologies.

I first discovered my passion for this work...
at NASA.

I find the most joy in my work when...
others are able to learn independently.

The book(s) currently on my nightstand...
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

Current University
Virginia Tech

Research Area
Jonathan Black’s research interests include space and atmospheric vehicle dynamics, linear and nonlinear control theory, autonomous vehicles and payloads, structures, structural dynamics, advanced sensing technologies, space systems engineering, and novel orbit analysis for a wide variety of military, intelligence, commercial, and science applications including large lightweight space structures, micro UAV development, and taskable satellite systems.

Research Summary
Black's research focuses on the ability to analyze sensor inputs onboard in low-SWAP, heterogeneous computing environments such that the payload can autonomously detect, identify, and track objects in its environment; the ability for high-level mission priorities to drive low-level technical processes in real time with the human out of the tactical loop but rather operating in a strategic control role; and the ability to manage payload resources according to mission goals in a distributed manner across several self-organizing nodes.

Black is a Professor in the Kevin T. Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering at Virginia Tech, Director of the Aerospace and Ocean Systems Laboratory of the Ted and Karyn Hume Center for National Security and Technology, Co-Director of the Center for Space Science and Engineering Research (Space@VT), and the Northrop Grumman Senior Faculty Fellow in C4ISR. Black works across academic departments and multiple research centers at the intersection of mission platforms and mission payloads.

Prior to joining VT, Black served as a faculty member in the Aeronautics and Astronautics department at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. There, he was the founding Director of the Center for Space Research and Assurance. As Director, Black focused the center’s efforts on the execution of cutting-edge space technology development and scientific space experiments; managed and executed the annual $2 million center research portfolio; supervised a diverse group of 20 consisting of research faculty, program managers, laboratory and administrative staff, graduate students, and summer interns; briefed senior Department of Defense and Intelligence Community leadership advising national strategy; and cultivated research and educational relationships inside and outside AFIT. He served as PI or Co-PI on five spaceflight experiments.

Alma Mater
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign