Dr. Jonathan Campbell

Principal Research Engineer VI, Center for Applied Optics


Dr. Campbell graduated from Benjamin Russell High School in 1968 as an Eagle Scout and a Beta Club and National Honor Society selectee. He also received Scouting's God and Country award. Entering Auburn University, he was accepted by Advanced Army ROTC and later selected for the Auburn Ranger Company and the Auburn Cooperative Engineering program. He worked at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft on the SR-71 engines, the F14-B engines, and the RL-10 rocket engines. Honors included Scabbard and Blade, Tau Beta Pi, and Sigma Gamma Tau. Graduating in 1972 with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering as a Distinguished Military Graduate, he received a Regular Army Commission as a 2d Lieutenant and entered graduate school.

Graduating in 1974 with a Masters in Experimental Plasma and Fusion Physics, thesis title - "Measurements Taken On A Transient Helium Plasma Using A Magnetic Probe and Other Diagnostic Techniques," Dr. Campbell reported to Ft. Bliss, Texas to attend the Basic Officer's Air Defense Course and the Chaparral/Vulcan Officer's Course. After graduating as an honor graduate from both courses, he successfully completed the Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, GA and was assigned to the First Infantry Division in Europe. Promoted to Captain at the end of his third year on active duty, he was next assigned to the DIA Missile and Space Intelligence Agency (MSIC) at Redstone Arsenal, AL.

Leaving active duty, Dr. Campbell continued as a civilian at MSIC and joined the Air Force Reserve. He was first assigned to the Air Force Systems Command at Arnold Air Force Station, Tennessee and later to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio at the Foreign Technology Division at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. On 7/7/77, Dr. Campbell realized a dream and completed his first solo and went on to earn his Instrument/Commercial/Certified Instructor (CFI) and Certified Instrument Instructor (CFII) ratings and certificates from the FAA. Today, he is an active flight instructor with over 2000 hours in multiple aircraft. He created and served as the first commander of the Redstone Arsenal Civil Air Patrol Squadron.

He accepted a position at NASA/MSFC in the early 80's and completed an M.S. in Engineering Management, an M.S. in Theoretical Physics, and a Ph.D in Astrophysics and Space Science. His dissertation title was "Imaging the Sun in Hard X-rays Using Fourier Telescopes." He would make contributions to a number of NASA programs including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Space Shuttle Main Engine. He has over 80 publications, holds several patents and patent applications, and has received numerous awards including being selected for Sigma Pi Sigma.

While at NASA/MSFC, Dr. Campbell was assigned next in the Air Force Reserve to the National Air Intelligence Center (NAIC). There, he was promoted to Full Colonel and he pioneered research on the use of lasers in space and the application of Quality Air Force to the NAIC reserves. Next, assigned to Air University as the IMA to the College for Aerospace Doctrine, Research, and Education Commander, an equivalent Full Professor position, he supported numerous war games, served as a teacher and mentor in the Space curriculum at Air War College and Air Command and Staff College, published several articles in the Air and Space Power Journal, and was instrumental in creating the Reserve Advanced Research Team (RESART). This team served to bridge the conceptual gap between emerging new technologies and Air Force strategy and doctrine. COL Campbell's final contribution to Air University, CADRE, and RESART was a research paper entitled the "Impact Imperative: Emerging Laser Technologies enabling Future Earth Defense CONOPS in Space." The paper's purpose to make folks more aware of the threat to our civilization here on Earth from asteroids, meteoroids, and comets from space and to offer a conceptual solution. He retired from the Air Force Reserve with over 30 years of military experience and received the Air Force Legion of Merit Award.

Continuing at MSFC, Dr. Campbell was selected to be a NASA Administrator's Fellow assigned to Alabama A&M University and The University of Alabama in Huntsville, an equivalent endowed chair/full professor position. There, in addition to several research pursuits, he led a comprehensively successful student research project that the students flew on NASA's reduced gravity, KC135, platform. Completing the fellowship and receiving an Administrator's Fellow award from the NASA administrator he has continued his career at MSFC and is now supporting NASA's Constellation program, orbital debris removal technologies, Planetary Defense technologies, and Planetary Science Missions to Venus, Mars, and the Moon.

Dr. Campbell presently works for The University of Alabama in Huntsville and lives in Madison, Alabama and is married to the former Charlotte Clift. Between the two of them, they are blessed with five sons and three grandchildren. Dr. Campbell is also a Methodist minister serving two churches in Jackson County.


  • Ph.D., Astrophysics and Space Science, 1980's
  • M.S., Engineering Management, 1980's
  • M.S., Theoretical Physics, 1980's
  • M.S., Experimental Plasma and Fusion Physics, 1974
  • B.S., Aerospace Engineering, 1972