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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 
  • MARK J. CONVERSINO

    Dr. Mark J. Conversino

    Dr. Mark J. Conversino 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. As Professor, 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. Dr. Conversino joined the faculty of the Air War College (AWC) as a civilian following his retirement from the Air Force and subsequently joined the faculty of SAASS in 2015. He specializes in military and airpower history and theory, Russian history and the politics of the former Soviet Union.  Full Bio 
  • 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
  • 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. Derrick V. Frazier

    Dr. Derrick V. Frazier

    Dr. Derrick V. Frazier is the Director of AU PhD Programs and 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. 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
  • Dr. Sean P. Braniff

    Dr. Sean P. Braniff

    Dr. Sean Braniff is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS). His areas of expertise include political psychology, regional interstate conflict, irregular warfare, and Middle East politics. Dr. Braniff holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Notre Dame, a MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and a BA in History from Brigham Young University - Idaho.   He has previously worked as an assistant professor at the Defense Language Institute - Foreign Language Center and as a research associate at the National Defense University's Near East - South Asia Center for Strategic Studies.
  • Lt. Col. Sarah N. Bakhtiari

    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.
  • Lt. Col. Nathaniel R. Huston

    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.
  • Colonel Stephanie R. Kelley

    Col Stephanie R. Kelley

    Colonel Stephanie R. Kelley is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies. Col Kelley graduated from the University of Maryland in 1996 with a BS in Psychology. She has an MA in National Security Affairs (Middle East Studies) from the Naval Postgraduate School and an MS in Political Science from the University of Chicago. Her doctoral research looks at military repression of domestic contentious events. She is a career Intelligence Officer with experience in targeting, counterterrorism, regional analysis, technical intelligence, and ISR operations in Air Force and Joint commands.
  • Dr. James Kiras

    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 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 
  • Colonel Stephen L. Renner

    Col Stephen L. Renner

    Colonel Stephen Renner is a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies (SAASS).  Full Bio
  • 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.

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