Saturday, April 29, 2023 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM PDT
Add to Calendar 

Tentative Agenda: (All Time PDT (GMT -0700)) (US and Canada)
10:20 am: Welcome and Introduction
10:30 am: Presentation
11:30 am: Q&A
12:00 pm: Adjourn.


*****This is a hybrid meting, with in-person and online attendance. The speaker will speak online.

*In-person attendance:

Olin Hall of Engineering (OHE), room 406 (Conference Room)
University of Southern California (USC)
3650 Mcclintock Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90089
(South of 10 Hwy, West of 101 Hwy, East of 405 Hwy, North of 105 Hwy)

(also online for a hybrid event)

*Online attendance:
Zoom connection information will be provided in the confirmation email after registration / RSVP.

American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Los Angeles - Las Vegas Section 


AIAA LA-LV 4/29 Section Town Hall Meeting (Hybrid)

Saturday, April 29, 2023, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM PDT (GMT -0700)(US and Canada)

Serendipity and contrarianism in scientific research:
Hit 'em where they ain't

(An AIAA LA-LV Section Hybrid Meeting)


Prof. Paul D. Ronney
Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering
University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA

(The speaker will present in person.)

Olin Hall of Engineering (OHE), room 406 (Conference Room)
University of Southern California (USC)
3650 Mcclintock Ave.,
Los Angeles, CA 90089
(South of 10 Hwy, West of 101 Hwy, East of 405 Hwy, North of 105 Hwy)

(also online for a hybrid event)

Register Now!

(If you are sick or don't feel well, please stay home and attend online on Zoom.)

(Please enable Javascript on the Web Browser.)
(Please don't leave the required (*-marked) fields/boxes blank / empty.)
(Please don't type anything in the Promo Code area. The discounts/promotions have been reflected directly in the ticket price list for selection. No Promo Code is needed.)

(Any special ticket request or for group rate, please contact events.aiaalalv@gmail.com)

Disclaimer: The views of the speakers do not represent the views of AIAA or the AIAA Los Angeles-Las Vegas Section.


(Your generous donations will be welcome and appreciated, but not required.)




COVID-19 Pre-cautions:


The Indoor Mask Mandate has been lifted. It's recommended to wear a mask indoors, but it's not required. (If you are sick or don't feel well, please still stay home and attend online on Zoom.) If you booked with in-person tickets, but realized you can't make it in-person, please inform us ASAP. Each in-person ticket will include the online access as well.


(Dress Code: Business Casual)


(In-person attendees: Indoor masks are recommended, but not required. But please respect each other, especially if some feel better with social distancing. If you're sick, please stay home and attend online.)



$2.95: AIAA Professional Member

$5.95: Non-AIAA Member - Professional

$1.95: AIAA Educator Member

$4.95: Non-AIAA Member - Educator

$1.45: AIAA University Student Member

$4.45: Non-AIAA Member - University Student

$0 (No Charge): AIAA High School (HS) Student Member, Non AIAA Member HS Student, and other K-12 Student

(Those K-12 student registrants will be required to type in a statement during registration to confirm with honesty they are indeed High School or K-12 Students.)

$2.95: AIAA Member - Other Categories

$5.95: Non-AIAA Member - Other Categories

Serendipity and contrarianism in scientific research:
Hit 'em where they ain't

Almost every great scientific or technological discovery involves a degree of serendipity, i.e.,a chance encounter with unexpected results. This is no coincidence, for if one already expects aparticular result and research confirms the expectation, nothing fundamentally new waslearned. Examples of great serendipitous discoveries include Teflon™, radioactivity, nitrocellulosicexplosives, LSD, the Big Bang and the microwave oven. In each of these cases, when unexpectedresults presented themselves the investigators were able to identify their significance instead ofmerely dismissing them as failures. Another key aspect of discovery is contrarianism, that is,challenging accepted wisdom in order to resolve its weaknesses or contradictions. Examples includequantum mechanics, relativity and anthropomorphically-induced climate change.This seminar discusses some famous examples of serendipitous and contrarianistic scientific ortechnological discoveries as well as my own less-famous examples in the fields combustion, catalysis,photobleaching velocimetry and biophysics. Suggestions to fledgling researchers will be given onhow to identify serendipitous yet consequential results and when/how to stand firm in the face ofadversity resulting from contrarianistic views.


Prof. Paul D. Ronney

Paul D. Ronney is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, CA. Prof. Ronney received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics from the California Institute of Technology, and a Doctor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He held postdoctoral appointments at the NASA Lewis (now Glenn) Research Center and the Laboratory for Computational Physics at the U. S. Naval Research Laboratory and a position as Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University before assuming his current position at USC. Prof. Ronney was the Payload Specialist Astronaut (Alternate) for Space Shuttle mission MSL-1 (STS-83, April 4 - 8, 1997) and the reflight of this mission (STS-94, July 1 - 16, 1997). Professor Ronney has extensive research experience in small-scale combustion and power generation, turbulent combustion, flame ignition by transient plasma discharges, micro-scale combustion, bioengineering (robotic insect propulsion), edge flames, flame propagation in confined geometries (Hele-Shaw cells), internal combustion engines, premixed-gas combustion at microgravity and flame spread over solid fuel beds. One of his experiments, a study of premixed-gas flames at low gravity, flew on three Space Shuttle missions. Prof. Ronney has published over 80 technical papers in peer-reviewed journals, made over 250 technical presentations (including over 35 invited presentations at international conferences), holds 7 U.S. patents, and has received over $12 million in funding for his research projects. In recognition of his achievements, he is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Combustion Institute, an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and is a recipient of the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award. He has received the Distinguished Paper Award from the Combustion Institute (for a work published in the Proceedings of the Combustion Institute, Vol. 37) and the Starley Premium Award of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (for the best paper of the year published in the Journal of Automobile Engineering.)