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School of Advanced Air and Space Studies Leadership and Faculty

  • Command and Leadership
  • Col Shawn T. Cochran

    Col Shawn T. Cochran

    Colonel Shawn T. Cochran is Commandant and Dean of the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. SAASS is a selective one-year graduate school with 16 terminally credentialed faculty members and 44 Air Force, Department of Defense, and international students. The mission of SAASS is to educate strategists for the Air Force and nation.  Full Bio 
  • Dr. Derrick V. Frazier

    Dr. Derrick V. Frazier

    Dr. Derrick V. Frazier is Deputy Commandant and Education Advisor for the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), Air University (AU), Maxwell Air Force Base (AFB), Alabama.  Full Bio  Curriculum Vitae
  • Faculty Members
  • Dr. Thomas A. Hughes

    Dr. Thomas A. Hughes

    Dr. Thomas Hughes is the Dean of Academics and Professor of Military History at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  He 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
  • Col Jeffrey W. Donnithorne

    Colonel Jeffrey W. Donnithorne is a professor of strategy and security studies at the Air Force’s School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.  He began his career as an F-15E Strike Eagle WSO, serving two operational tours with four combat deployments and over 300 combat hours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  After graduating from SAASS in 2010, Col Donnithorne attended Georgetown University and completed his PhD in International Relations, with a focus on American civil-military relations. During his time at Air University, Col Donnithorne has served as the Commander of the 31st Student Squadron Bulls at SOS, the Director of the Center for Strategy and Technology and its Blue Horizons program, and most recently served for two years as Air University’s Chief Academic Officer.
  • Colonel Kristi Lowenthal

    Col Kristi Lowenthal

    Colonel Kristi Lowenthal is the Dean of Students and 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
  • Dr. David C. Benson

    Dr. David C. 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.  Full Bio  Curriculum Vitae
  • Lt. Col. Sarah N. Bakhtiari

    Lt Col Sarah N. Bakhtiari is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies and Director of Staff at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS). Lt Col Bakhtiari graduated from Notre Dame in 2000 with a B.A. in Russian Language and English Literature. She holds an M.A. in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a PhD in International Studies from the University of Denver, with a research emphasis in political economy. Lt Col Bakhtiari is a career Intelligence officer with experience in unit support, technical intelligence, security cooperation, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in Air Force and Joint commands.  Full Bio
  • Lt. Col. Nathaniel R. Huston

    Lt Col Nathaniel R. Huston is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS). Lt Col Huston graduated from Notre Dame in 1999 with a B.S. in Computer Engineering. He also holds an M.A. and a PhD in Political Science from the Notre Dame, with a focus on International Relations and the intersection of technology and organizational behavior. Lt Col Huston's career spans a variety of information and cyber operations mission sets, to include support to the ICBM force, intelligence collection and dissemination, and tactical communications in Air Force and joint commands. 
    Full Bio
  • Lt. Col. Steven J. Smith

    Lt Col Steven J. “Smitty” Smith is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies as well as the Director of Staff at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS), Maxwell AFB, AL.  He received his commission as an Air Force officer in 1999 after graduating from Brigham Young University with a major in Asian Studies and minors in Aerospace Studies and Chinese Language and Literature.  Lt Col Smith has an MA in International Politics with an emphasis on Chinese politics and a PhD in International Studies.  Full Bio
  • Dr. James Kiras 

    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.
  • Dr. Richard Muller

    Dr. Richard Muller

    Dr Richard R. Muller is Professor of Military History at the USAF School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS) at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. He joined the SAASS faculty in June 2005, and was Dean of Academics from 2008-2018. Prior to that, he spent 14 years on the faculty at the USAF Air Command and Staff College (ACSC). At ACSC, he served as course director, department chairman, and Dean of Education and Curriculum.  He is a military historian specializing in the history of air power and the Second World War. He is the author of The German Air War in Russia; The Luftwaffe’s Way of War 1911-1945 (with James S. Corum); and The Luftwaffe over Germany: Defense of the Reich (with Donald L. Caldwell), which received the Air Force Historical Foundation’s “Best Air Power History Book of 2008” prize, as well as many articles, book chapters and reviews. His latest article is “A Tale of Two Bomb Groups,” which appeared in the journal Air Power History in Spring 2019. He is currently writing a history of the 452nd Bomb Group. A proud native of New Jersey, Dr Muller received his BA in history (with honors) from Franklin and Marshall College, and his MA and PhD degrees in military history from The Ohio State University. He has held fellowship appointments at Yale University and the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and was named the Air Force Civilian Educator of the Year for 2009.  Dr Muller and his wife Cindy have a 19-year old daughter, Lauren.  Full Bio  Curriculum Vitae 
  • Dr. James Tucci

    Dr. James Tucci

    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. Wendy Whitman-Cobb

    Dr. Wendy N. Whitman Cobb 

    Dr. Wendy N. Whitman Cobb is Associate Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  Dr. Whitman Cobb received a BA and MA from the University of Central Florida, both in political science, and a PhD in political science from the University of Florida.  Her research focuses on the political and institutional dynamics of space policy, public opinion of space exploration, and the influence of commerce on potential space conflict.  Prior to arriving at SAASS, Dr. Whitman Cobb was an associate professor of political science at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma.  Curriculum Vitae

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