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Command and Leadership

Col Timothy M. Cullen
Col Timothy M. Cullen
Commandant/Dean

Dr. Mark J. Conversino
Dr. Mark J. Conversino
Education Advisor/Deputy Commandant

School of Advanced Air and Space Studies Faculty

Dr. Richard Muller Dr. Richard R. Muller is the Dean of Academics and Professor of Military History at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  He is a military historian specializing in the history of air power.  He teaches courses in twentieth century air power, the foundations of strategy, technology and military innovation, military theory, and the history of the Second World War.  Full Bio     Curriculum Vitae
Lt Col Michele Johnson Colonel Michele E. Johnson is Dean of Students and a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  Colonel Johnson is a Cyberspace Support officer with over 21 years of service.  She received her commission in 1995 as a distinguished graduate from the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Saint Michael’s College, Winooski, Vermont.  Colonel Johnson was selected to attend the Air Force Institute of Technology, where she earned a Master’s degree in Information Resource Management. She also earned Master’s and Doctoral degrees from the University of Colorado.  Full Bio   Curriculum Vitae
Dr. David Benson Dr. David C. Benson is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS). His areas of expertise include online politics, cyber-security, international relations theory and China. His dissertation, The Internet Effect: How Authoritarian Governments Use Internet Communications Technologies to Maintain Control of States, received the “Information, Technology and Politics” Section, Dissertation of the Year Award for 2015. He arrived at SAASS after a post-doctoral joint appointment in the Departments of Political Science and Computer Science at Southern Methodist University. He is a former coordinator for the Program on International Politics, Economics and Security (PIPES) and a research fellow at the Chicago Project on Security and Threats (CPOST), both at the University of Chicago.  He is also an Army combat veteran, including a tour in Iraq.    Full Bio

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Dr. Stephen Chiabotti is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies and the Director of Doctoral Programs at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  Dr. Chiabotti grew up in northern Minnesota and is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, where he majored in physics. He spent 30 years in the Air Force training pilots, acquiring training aircraft, and teaching at the Academy and Air University.  He earned his masters and PhD from Duke University with fields in the history of science and technology and military history.  

Dr. Derrick Frazier Dr. Derrick V. Frazier is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS). His teaching expertise includes strategy, security studies, regional powers and security orders, international conflict, conflict management and security cooperation.  Full Bio

Dr. Thomas Hughes

Dr. Thomas A. Hughes is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  His teaching expertise includes collegiate and graduate courses in American and European history, military history, aviation history, the history of strategy, security studies, and military doctrine.  Full Bio   Curriculum Vitae

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Dr. James Kiras is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  His academic background is in strategic studies with a specialization in irregular warfare and special operations.  He teaches courses in irregular warfare, military theory, and defense policy.

Photo Not Available Lt Col Mel Korsmo is the Director of Staff and a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies, School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS). Lt Col Korsmo graduated in August from the University of Denver, receiving his PhD in International Studies. He additionally holds master’s degrees in International Relations (University of Cambridge, UK), Organizational Management (George Washington University), and Airpower Studies (SAASS). Lt Col Korsmo is a senior pilot in the KC-135R with combat missions flown over and in support of Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Col Kristi Lowenthal

Colonel Kristi Lowenthal is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS). Col Lowenthal graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1996 with a major in history. She has a M.A. in American history from University of Nebraska, a PhD in American history with an emphasis on women from Kansas State University, and an MBA from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.  She is a career acquisition officer with experience in munitions, space, electronics, and aircraft maintenance at both the Air Force and DoD levels.  Full Bio

Photo Not Available Dr. Melia Pfannenstiel is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  She has a M.A. in Political Science (International Relations, Comparative Politics) and a PhD in Security Studies with an emphasis on terrorism from Kansas State University. Her teaching and research expertise includes military interventions, irregular warfare, defense policy, and civil-military relations.
Col Stephen Renner Colonel Stephen L. Renner is the Dean of Students and a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS). As the Dean of Students, he is responsible for creating warrior-scholars who have a superior ability to develop, evaluate, and employ airpower as a component of military force in support of national objectives.
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Dr. James Tucci is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  Dr. Tucci is a graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois where he read Greek and Latin for a Bachelor’s degree.  He also holds an M.A. in history from the University of Missouri at Columbia and a Ph.D. in Comparative World History from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. During his 22-year USAF career, Dr. Tucci served as an ICBM Flight Commander, flew over 1000 hours in both USAF and US Navy aircraft, and was Director of Military History in the USAF Academy History Department.  Dr. Tucci has taught history, strategy, literature, classical language, and security studies at the US Air Force Academy, the USAF Air Command and Staff College, Auburn University, the Netherlands Defense College, the United Arab Emirates Defense College, and SAASS.

Dr. Stephen Wright Dr. Stephen E. “Wilbur” Wright is Director, Air University PhD Program at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.  In addition, he teaches on the school’s faculty as associate professor of strategy and security studies.  His teaching expertise includes courses in strategy and coercion, international politics, military theory, strategy and campaign planning, cyberspace, contemporary defense issues, airpower, and warfare studies.  In December 2007, Colonel Wright completed a 30-year active duty career culminating as the Dean of Academic Affairs, Air War College, having taught joint warfighting, international security studies, global security studies, and strategy and policy.  Full Bio   Curriculum Vitae 

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Drew Papers

Drew Papers CoverThe Drew Papers are award-winning master’s theses selected for publication by the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. This series of papers commemorates the distinguished career of Col Dennis “Denny” Drew, USAF, retired.

SAASS Student Support & Research Guides

Air University Student Support & Research Guides