Venke Sankaran Chief Scientist of Aerospace Systems Directorate AFRL


Dr. Venke Sankaran, a member of the scientific and professional cadre of senior executives, is the Chief Scientist for the Aerospace Systems Directorate, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright–Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He advises the director and guides the technical staff in the execution of the directorate’s $500M science and technology portfolio in turbine engines, high–speed systems, power & controls, air vehicles, rocket propulsion, and modeling & simulations. He also provides expert technical consultation to Air Force organizations, the Department of Defense, other government agencies, universities and industry. Previously, Dr. Sankaran served as the Senior Scientist for Rocket Propulsion, Aerospace Systems Directorate, where he was responsible for guiding the Air Force and Space Force near– and long–term research and development needs in the field of rocket propulsion. From January 2019 to December 2019, he also served as the Acting Chief Scientist of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research of the Air Force Research Laboratory. In this role, he was the principal science and technology adviser to the director in matters of formulation, planning, managing and integration of the Air Force’s $500M basic research investment.

Prior to joining the Air Force, Dr. Sankaran was at the Army's Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center at Ames Research Center, where he served as the architect and technical lead of the Helios rotorcraft simulation software platform. He has also served as research faculty at Penn State University's Propulsion Engineering Research Center, University of Tennessee Space Institute, Purdue University's Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories, NASA Ames Research Center and University of California Santa Cruz's University Affiliated Research Center. During his years in academia, Dr. Sankaran has taught undergraduate and graduate–level courses and mentored graduate students.

The author of more than 200 technical papers, Dr. Sankaran has been actively involved in several funded programs involving rocket propulsion, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics and plasmas. His research has been instrumental in the development of advanced algorithms for extending computational fluid dynamics methods to all flow regimes, including all Mach numbers, viscous–dominated regions, unsteady flows, generalized equations of state and multiphase flows. His research application interests have included solid, liquid and electric propulsion systems, rotorcraft aerodynamics and underwater vehicles.