George Popov

George Popov


Aston, PA



Bachelor of Arts in Physics and Astronomy (Concentration in Physical Theory and Experimental Technique; Minor in Mathematics)

Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

Master of Science in Physics and Astronomy


Post-Penn Plans

Ph.D. in Space Engineering at Caltech 


Penn Experiences

My favorite activities at Penn were research with the Bargatin Group, Penn Aerospace Club, and the VIPER Student Board! I loved going into lab in between classes and working on a ton of different projects. Some of my favorite memories were going to the Spaceport America Cup and launching a supersonic rocket after my sophomore year, and helping mentor my peers in VIPER! 


Research Interests

George primarily focuses on the photophoretic levitation of Mylar, alumina, and carbon nanotube structures in the Bargatin Group, and has previously studied nanocardboard levitation to create an atmospheric pressure radiometer. He is currently using computational techniques to design a nanofabricated metamaterial solar sail for near lightspeed space travel as well. George has also assisted in creating compact, lightweight wings for microflyers using nanofabrication processes and characterizing thermionic devices, leading to multiple publications. 


Why did you choose VIPER?

It was the perfect way to follow both my passion for physics and my interest in mechanical engineering, and it also allowed for me to expand upon my past research experiences. I knew that it would prepare me very well for the present and future with its focus on innovative sustainability.  


What are three words you would use to describe VIPER?

Ambition, experience, and community


What is your favorite aspect about the program?

 How well it offered me a structure to succeed with. I have been able to get all the help I needed to make sure that I can get through several degrees, and VIPER opened opportunities for me to find an absolutely amazing research group. 


How do you see VIPER integrating into your future goals?

I think VIPER has prepared me to be able to tackle anything that I would want to do with my future. It allowed me to get the best of both worlds when it came to physics and mechanical engineering, and I am very excited to continue the academic and research experiences I have gained when I go to pursue my PhD. 


How do you like to spend your free time? Are you involved in any organizations in or out of Penn?

I like using my free time to learn about, design, or make something new. I spend a lot of time volunteering in my lab outside of summer research, as well as leading the rocket team, which is my favorite club here at Penn. 


What advice would you give to incoming VIPER students?

VIPER is a fantastic gateway to many opportunities. Don't be shy to put yourself out there to claim them! There's many wonderful places and people here who wish to see you succeed if you genuinely wish to. 


Graduation Year