I am very interested in in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), the use of lunar/martian/asteroidal resources (generally regolith, atmosphere, and water ice) to produce propellant or construction materials on those bodies. It's a new & growing topic--the first instrument to test production of rocket fuel from the Martian atmosphere is due to launch a month from today (June 20th, 2020) aboard the Perseverance rover--and it's an interdisciplinary one, lying at the intersection of geology, mineral extraction, and aerospace and chemical engineering.
How do I find potential doctorate advisors working in this field? I have been looking through Google Scholar & conference catalogs (eg.: AGU) to find the names of those writing & presenting on ISRU techniques. However, the majority of the papers authored on ISRU implementations are by industry & government authors, and there are no dedicated graduate programs I am aware of aside from Colorado School of Mines' Space Resources program. The majority of academic work in ISRU seems to be by faculty in either the aerospace or mining engineering departments.
This concerns me. I am not an engineering student: I am a geology & math undergraduate, and I am worried about the quantity of deficiencies I may need to take entering into an engineering graduate program (if I can get into ISRU research, it's absolutely worth it though). More importantly, I doubt I am exactly the type of student engineering programs are looking for. My grades are good, I have a lot of undergrad research experience, but like I said, at the end of the day, I have no engineering background. I anticipate rejection, and I anticipate a lot of it. Even if it's not outright rejection, odds are there won't be that many doctorate positions available with funding when I am applying (for next fall).
Therefore, I'm trying to track down almost everybody I can find who is active in both academia and ISRU research, to maximize my chances of making a connection with a potential advisor and finding a place for me in their department. But as I mentioned previously, it's difficult to do so because a) authors on IRSU in academia are few & far between, and b) the departments in which people are doing ISRU research are much broader than my interests.
Do you experienced people have any advisor-finding advice for a lowly undergrad?