Ariel Ekblaw is the founder and lead of the MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative, a team of over 50 graduate students, faculty, and staff actively prototyping our sci-fi space future. For the Initiative, Ariel directs space research and launches opportunities across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, and design, and builds collaborations on this work with MIT and Space Industry partners. Ariel is simultaneously a graduate research assistant at the MIT Media Lab, where she is completing a PhD in aerospace structures in Dr. Joseph Paradiso's Responsive Environments group. Her current research includes designing, testing, and deploying self-assembling space architecture for future space tourist habitats and space stations in orbit around the Earth and Mars. Ariel brings an interdisciplinary approach to her research at the Media Lab, with undergraduate degrees in physics, mathematics, and philosophy from Yale University and a master’s in blockchain research from MIT. Her past work experience includes blockchain product development, cloud computing analytics at Microsoft Azure, big data programming at the CERN Particle Physics Laboratory, microgravity flight research with NASA, and Mars2020 rover hardware systems engineering at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Ariel’s work has been featured in AIAA, IEEE, WIRED, the BBC, CNN, Ars Electronica, MIT Technology Review, Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, PRI’s ScienceFriday, and more.
Maria T. Zuber is Vice President for Research and E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at MIT, where she has responsibility for research administration and policy. She oversees MIT Lincoln Laboratory and over 60 research laboratories and centers at the Institute. Zuber is responsible for integrity and compliance, technology licensing and intellectual property, and plays a central role in research relationships with the federal government. Zuber’s research bridges planetary geophysics and the technology of space-based laser and radio systems. Since 1990, she has held leadership roles associated with scientific experiments or instrumentation on nine NASA missions, most notably serving as principal investigator of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. Zuber has won numerous awards, including the MIT James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, the highest honor the MIT faculty bestows to one of its own.
Lizbeth B. De La Torre is a research assistant and MS candidate in the Media Lab's Space Enabled group. With a BFA in Illustration-Entertainment Art designing vehicles, props, and environments for feature film animation from ArtCenter College of Design, she uses design thinking methods and techniques to imagine the future of technology in space.
Liz comes to the Media Lab from The Studio at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where she worked on creative projects and tech demos for various space missions and pre-mission formulation for future missions. Apart from illustrating two posters included in the NASA Visions of the Future series (Europa, Ceres) she also co-lead research in astronaut devices and wearables for situational awareness and robotic interaction on Mars.
Jeremy Lasky is an entrepreneur and creative leader. Jeremy Lasky started his career at R/GA right after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University where he studied Graphic Design, Architecture and Business. For more than five years he lead design efforts for feature films, global ad agencies, and broadcast networks at R/GA. In the fall of 2001, Lasky co-founded Perception, a cutting edge motion graphics studio that lead the revolution in creating groundbreaking design and visual effects on the desktop. Now in it's 18th year, the studio has sharpened its focus to become global experts in designing futuristic UIs for both feature films and for the most powerful brands in technology. From Iron Man to IBM, from The Avengers to SpaceX, the studio has an extremely unique niche that truly bridges the gap between sci-fi and science fact. Lasky leads new business strategies, shapes the company’s growth, while overseeing a full-time staff of 15. Lasky has been a keynote speaker at: The Savannah Film Festival, Promax, Disney Art Summit, Disney Creative Loop Series, Science of Team Science Conference, Biogen Technology Innovation Symposium, TV of Tomorrow, and Razorfish's Global Creative Summit. Lasky has lectured on design and has been a guest speaker at the MIT Media Lab, OTIS, SCAD, Carnegie Mellon’s ETC, and NYU ITP. He's given presentations and workshops at some of the biggest tech giants in the world including Samsung, IBM, SpaceX, Intel, Microsoft, GE, Yahoo, Audi, Mercedes, Ford, Chrysler, Visa, and Apple.
Lasky's work has garnered many of the most prestigious awards in the design world including AIGA, The Art Director’s Club, BDA/Promax, CLIO, International Andy Awards, SXSW, Monitor Awards, New Media Invision, One Show, The Charleston Intl Film Festival, Telly's, The Type Directors, The Motionographer Awards, and has been featured in the permanent collection at The Museum of Modern Art.
He’s been profiled in dozens of design and business publications including: Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, Crains, El País, Carnegie Mellon Magazine, as well as a frequent guest on design and industry podcasts.
Dr. Tanya Harrison calls herself a “professional martian.” She has spent the last decade working as a scientist and in mission operations on multiple NASA Mars missions, including the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers. Her specialty lies in geomorphology: the study of a planet’s evolution based on its surface features. Before Mars, however, Tanya had her head in the stars as an astronomer studying the metal content of star clusters and recurring novae systems. She holds a PhD in Geology from the University of Western Ontario, a Masters in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Wesleyan University, and a BSc in Astronomy and Physics from the University of Washington. Currently she is the Manager of Science Programs at Planet Federal, the federal arm of Planet Labs. Tanya is also an advocate for advancing the status of women in science and for accessibility in the geosciences. You can find her prolifically tweeting about the Red Planet as @tanyaofmars.
Shep Doeleman is founding director of the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) project, a synchronized global array of radio dishes that reaches the highest angular resolution possible from the surface of the Earth. He led the international EHT team that recently succeeded in making the first image of a supermassive black hole. Doeleman received his bachelor's from Reed College, then spent a year in Antarctica conducting space-science experiments at McMurdo Station on the Ross Ice Shelf. He pursued his doctorate in astrophysics at MIT then joined the MIT Haystack Observatory where he developed a research program of millimeter/submillimeter-wavelength interferometry and served as the Observatory's assistant director. He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 2012 and moved to the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian that same year. He is also a Harvard University Senior Research Fellow and co-founded Harvard's Black Hole Initiative—the first center dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of black holes.
Therese Jones joined the Satellite Industry Association as its senior director of policy in January 2018. In this role, Ms. Jones supports SIA’s work on government services, regulatory, legislative, defense, export-control, and trade issues of critical importance to the Association’s members. Prior to joining SIA, Ms. Jones was an assistant policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, where she focused on space policy. In this role, she supported the Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, US Air Force, and Army in assessing new space technologies, increasing the resilience of the national space architecture, and determining commercial acquisition strategies for communications and remote sensing services. Before transitioning into space policy, she worked as an astrophysics researcher focusing on galaxy formation and evolution. Ms. Jones is currently a PhD candidate in Policy Analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She holds a master’s in astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley, and bachelor’s degrees in astronomy and astrophysics, physics, German, and international studies from Pennsylvania State University.
Emily Calandrelli is an executive producer and an Emmy nominated host of FOX’s Xploration Outer Space, a correspondent on Netflix’s show, Bill Nye Saves The World, and writer and host of “Spotlight Space,” a YouTube series from Lockheed Martin detailing their latest space projects in development. Most recently, Netflix announced a new slate of preschool series—including one featuring Emily titled Emily’s Wonder Lab. This series takes kids through lively experiments and entertaining activities to demonstrate what makes STEAM fun. Emily will serve as the host and executive producer along with Bunim-Murray Productions. Emily’s Wonder Lab is set to hit Netflix in 2020.
Emily, who was named to Adweek’s “11 Celebrities and Influencers Raising the Bar for Creativity in 2017," is an accomplished writer and speaker on the topics of space exploration, scientific literacy, and equality. Her first two novels in a STEM-focused chapter book series, The Ada Lace Adventures, center around an eight-year-old girl with a knack for science, math, and solving mysteries with technology, were released in August of 2017. The second book in the series, Ada Lace: Sees Red, was included in the National Science Teachers Association’s list of best STEM books for 2018. All five books are available at Barnes and Noble as well as Amazon.
Emily has given talks about the importance of science literacy, the benefits of space exploration, and the challenges for women in STEM careers for clients like Google, Pixar, MIT, Texas Instruments, CERN, as well as dozens of K-12 schools across the nation. Her first two TEDx talks, “I Don’t Do Math” and “Space Exploration Is The Worst,” have garnered nearly one million views on YouTube.
Prior to her work in science communication, Emily attended West Virginia University, where she received a bachelor of science degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering, and MIT where she received two masters of science degrees, one in Aeronautics and Astronautics and the other in Technology and Policy. Through her work, she wants to make science and space exploration relatable, more welcoming, and more exciting than ever before in history.
Prathima Muniyappa is a Designer, Conservator and a research assistant for the Space Enabled research group. She is interested in addressing issues of social justice, democratic access for historically marginalized communities and enabling indigenous agency. Her research investigates alternative cosmologies and cultural ontologies for their potential to contribute to emerging discourse on techno-imaginaries in the realm of space exploration, synthetic biology and extended intelligence.
Jessy Schingler is a founding board member and director of policy and governance research at the Open Lunar foundation. Open Lunar aims to advance peaceful and cooperative lunar settlement through the design of public goods, physical infrastructure, and institutions that position the Earth and moon as a system. The moon can also help us bring new thinking to governance on Earth, where our institutions are failing to meet the demands of human activity at unprecedented scale, connectivity, and resource consumption. With her other hat, Jessy Kate helps run District Commons, a nonprofit targeting literacy and empowerment in constitutional level governance and institution design. District Commons supports projects prototyping new approaches to commons management, sustainability, and participatory decision making. Jessy Kate’s work draws on a background in software engineering, where she has worked on protocol design for distributed systems, networking for cloud computing at NASA, and embedded flight software for rockets at Astra.
Matt Weinzierl is the Joseph and Jacqueline Elbling Professor of Business Administration in the Business, Government, and the International Economy Unit at Harvard Business School and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research focuses on the optimal design of economic policy, in particular taxation, with an emphasis on better understanding the philosophical principles underlying policy choices. Recently, he has launched a set of research projects focused on the commercialization of the space sector and its economic implications.
Dr. Nia Imara is an astrophysicist and artist. Currently a John Harvard Distinguished Science Fellow at Harvard University, she explores how stars are born in the Milky Way and other galaxies throughout the universe. Dr. Imara’s research transcends traditional categories, and she has made contributions to observational radio astronomy, cosmology, and exoplanet studies. Parallel to her work in astronomy, Imara is also a painter whose art reflects her love for people and their stories. Dr. Imara has worked on many projects to foster equity in science and to increase opportunities for underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, including the Equity and Inclusion Journal Club at Harvard, which she founded in 2018.
Dr. Farah Alibay has been a systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) since early 2014. Her primary projects while at JPL have been the InSight Mars Lander, as well as its companion mission: the Mars Cube One (MarCO) CubeSats. These missions arrived at Mars in November 2018, and Dr. Alibay was both part of the team that helped build and test the spacecraft, as well as the operations team. In 2019, she joined the Mars 2020 team—the next rover mission to be launching for the Red Planet, primarily working on the mobility system for the rover. Prior to joining JPL, Dr. Alibay obtained an undergraduate and master’s degree from the University of Cambridge in the UK, followed by a PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kimberly Slater received her engineering degree from Tufts University specializing in human-machine interface design. She has designed and escorted dozens of experiments aboard NASA's Space Shuttle and International Space Station. Integrating a suite of services for flight missions collectively outlining flight experiment management for large-scale engineering and science teams missions, Ms. Slater has performed mechanical and electrical design, materials analyses, test and validation, launch readiness reviews and mission support. She has trained American astronauts and Russian Cosmonauts for 10 years’ worth of Shuttle, Mir and International Space Station missions and sat on-console for on-line mission support in NASA’s Mission Control Center, (MCC) Houston and for Russian missions in Moscow.
During her stint at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Ms. Slater met increasing commercial space demands by expanding customers destined for the International Space Station Low Earth Orbit missions, as well as for sub-orbital and parabolic flight missions. Ms. Slater leveraged this experience in commercial space to build a Small Satellite program at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory applying Draper’s unique technologies to novel satellite systems. She currently manages Draper’s Space Systems business area in commercial, science and social impact programs.
In addition to a wealth of technical and programmatic experience with space-flight systems, Ms. Slater spearheaded a 50-state Science, Technology, Engineering and Match education and Space Station awareness campaign and helps apply Draper technologies to climate, sustainability, and other social impact programs.
Hajime Yano is a space exploration scientist at ISAS/JAXA and teaches as associate professor at graduate schools including University of Tokyo, Keio University, and Hosei University. Born in Tokyo, Yano received a PhD in space science at University of Kent at Canterbury, UK and conducted research at NASA Johnson Space Center in 1998-1999.
Specialized on cosmic dust, Solar System small bodies and astrobiology, he has developed sampling systems, impact dust detectors and collectors for Antarctic micrometeorites, Low Earth Orbit debris, deep space meteoroids, cometary grains, and asteroidal regolith, including Hayabusa and Hayabusa-2. As PM, PI, or Co-I. Yano has worked for more than a dozen of space exploration and experiment projects in Japan, US, and Europe such as LDEF, EuReCa, Stardust, IKAROS, Tanpopo and EQUULEUS.
Yano is IAA Academician, Chair of COSPAR Solar System Small Body Sub-commission and Visiting Scientist at ISN/MIT. He is an author/co-author >280 refereed publications.
Dr. Erika Wagner serves as payload sales director for Blue Origin, a developer of vehicles and technologies to enable human space transportation. Prior to joining Blue Origin, Dr. Wagner worked with the X PRIZE Foundation as senior director of exploration prize development and founding executive director of the X PRIZE Lab@MIT. Previously, she served at MIT as science director and executive director of the Mars Gravity Biosatellite Program, a multi-university spacecraft development initiative to investigate the physiological effects of reduced gravity. From 2009 to 2012, Erika was a member of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group, furthering the research and education potential of commercial suborbital launch vehicles. Today, she serves on the Boards of the Museum of Flight and American Society for Gravitational and Space Research, as well as the National Academies Committee on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space.
Dr. Zachary Pirtle is the senior operations research analyst supporting the Artemis missions at NASA Headquarters, providing guidance on policy, strategy and independent assessment. He is seen as a leading researcher on engineering ethics and epistemology, and co-led a NASA effort to involve the public in informing NASA’s exploration plans. He also has a passion for how science fiction can help to inform space policy decisions. At NASA HQ, he helped establish the management structure for the Exploration Systems Development programs, including the Space Launch System and Orion. He has led key programmatic/schedule assessments of the James Webb Space Telescope. He earned his PhD in systems engineering from George Washington University, with undergraduate degrees in both philosophy and mechanical engineering from Arizona State University. Before joining NASA, he was a Fulbright scholar to Mexico and was a Mirzayan science and technology policy fellow at the National Academy of Engineering.
Benjamin Bratton is a theorist whose work spans philosophy, art, and design. He is associate professor of visual arts and director of The Center for Design and Geopolitics at the University of California, San Diego. He is also professor of digital design at The European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. His research is situated at the intersections of political and social theory, emerging computational media and infrastructure, and interdisciplinary design methodologies. His next book, The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty, will be published by MIT Press. Bratton has lectured widely, and is the author of dozens of essays, articles, book chapters, in both academic and popular publications. He has been a visiting lecturer and critic at Columbia, Princeton, UCLA, Parsons/ The New School, The Strelka Institute (Moscow), Art Center College of Design, Michigan, Die Angewandte (Vienna), Bauhaus-University, Moscow State, among many others.
Lita Albuquerque is an internationally renowned installation, environmental artist, painter, and sculptor. Her work questions our place in the enormity of infinite space and eternal time. She was born in Santa Monica, California and raised in Tunisia, North Africa and Paris, France. In the 1970s, Albuquerque emerged on the California art scene as part of the Light and Space movement and won acclaim for her poetic ephemeral pigment works, which mapped the cosmos onto desert sites.
Albuquerque was the recipient of the National Science Foundation Artist Grant Program for the artwork, Stellar Axis: Antarctica, the first and largest ephemeral artwork created on that continent. Albuquerque’s recent major exhibitions include the American Center for the Arts and Culture, Paris, the Art Safiental Biennial, Switzerland, and Desert X AlUla, Saudi Arabia. Her work is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, LACMA, and MOCA.
Lisa Messeri is an assistant professor of sociocultural anthropology at Yale University. Her research concerns how science and technology stretch our imagination of what place is and what it means to be in place and in the world. Messeri’s first book, Placing Outer Space (Duke 2016), examines how scientists transform planets into worlds. Her current research, supported by an NSF Scholars Award, focuses on the virtual reality community in Los Angeles. Her current book project details the efforts of this community to establish VR as a different kind of tech industry, one that values equality and representation. In addition to academic writing, Messeri has had essays published in The New York Times, Slate, and Motherboard. Her research has been featured in Wired, PBS’s NovaNow, and on CNN. Messeri received her SB from MIT in Aerospace Engineering in 2004 and her PhD in MIT’s program in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society in 2011.
Tavares Strachan’s artistic practice activates the intersections of art, science, and politics, offering us uniquely synthesized points of view on the cultural dynamics of scientific knowledge. He works in collaboration with organizations and institutions across disciplines, to promote a broader and more inclusive understanding of the work of both artists, scientists, and the systems and support networks that make their work possible.
He is perhaps best known for his work The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want (Arctic Ice Project), 2004-06, in which he extracted a four and half ton block of arctic ice and shipped it to his birthplace in the Bahamas, where it was exhibited in a specially designed freezer chamber that was solar powered. Strachan was recently named artist in residence for Getty Research Institute's 2019-20 Scholar Year, and the Allen Institute’s inaugural artist-in-residence in 2018, and has been the recipient of many grants including the 2014 LACMA Art + Technology Lab Artist Grant. Through this exciting collaboration, he has been working on a project with SpaceX to celebrate the forgotten story of Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., the first African American astronaut selected for any national space program.
Anton Vidokle is an artist and editor of e-flux journal. He was born in Moscow and lives in New York and Berlin. Vidokle’s work has been exhibited internationally at Documenta 13 and the 56th Venice Biennale. Vidokle’s films have been presented at Bergen Assembly, Shanghai Biennale, Berlinale International Film Festival, Forum Expanded, Gwangju Biennale, Center Pompidou, Tate Modern, Garage Museum, Istanbul Biennial, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Tensta Konsthall, Blaffer Art Museum, Stedelijk Museum, and others.
Veronica Foreman, Payload Engineer, Virgin Orbit
Sunanda Sharma is a research assistant and doctoral candidate in the Mediated Matter group at the MIT Media Lab. She works at the intersection of biology, design, and materials science to create objects, products, and environments that embody the characteristics of life. Her research focuses on the dynamics of organism-environment relationships across spatial and temporal scales and contexts, especially in extreme environments such as space.
Lindy Elkins-Tanton is the managing director and co-chair of the ASU Interplanetary Initiative, and she is the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Psyche mission, selected in 2017 as the 14th in NASA’s Discovery program.
Her research includes theory, observation, and experiments concerning terrestrial planetary formation, magma oceans, and subsequent planetary evolution including magmatism and interactions between rocky planets and their atmospheres. She also promotes and participates in education initiatives, in particular, inquiry and exploration teaching methodologies, and leadership and team-building for scientists and engineers.
Tanja Bosak is a Croatian-American geophysicist and associate professor of Geobiology at MIT. Bosak is recognized for her work understanding stromatolite genesis, in addition to her work in broader geobiology and geochemistry. Bosak is a fellow of the American Geophysical Union (2011) and a participating scientist on the Mars 2020 rover mission.
Her current research uses experimental geobiology to explore modern biogeochemical and sedimentological processes in microbial systems and interpret the record of life on the early Earth. Bosak’s work integrates microbiology, sedimentology, and stable isotope geochemistry into experimental geobiology to ask how microbial processes leave chemical, mineral, and morphological signals in sedimentary rocks. Her lab uses this approach to explore modern biogeochemical and sedimentological processes, interpret the coevolution of life and the environment during the first 80% of Earth’s history, and look for signs of past life on Mars.
Sands Fish is a designer, artist, and futurist based in Boston and New York, USA. Previously at the MIT Media Lab and Harvard's Berkman Center, he runs a design firm for humans in space. Working in collaboration with the Media Lab Space Exploration Initiative, his work focuses on how technology shapes and guides human culture, and how these technologies are implicated in creating our future.
Jennifer Shaw is an obstetric hospitalist and has spent her entire adult life delivering babies on Earth. Despite that, she has never seen a sci-fi movie she didn’t love and has had a fascination with everything beyond the stratosphere since she was a little girl. Born and raised in Washington, DC, then on to Mount Holyoke College and Albany Medical College before receiving her Obstetric and Gynecology training at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston, she has delivered thousands of babies in her career. She figures that if we keep sending men and women into space together for long periods of time, sooner or later circumstances will dictate that we know how to deal with the consequences.
Laura Zittrain designs exhibitions and classes drawing from the history of science, the occult, yoga, and space. She teaches guided meditation using natural phenomena—the Earth’s core, the dynamics of gravity, the scale of the cosmos, and the interrelationships within it—to cultivate wonder and reflection. She recently co-produced Reflections, an immersive environment featuring floating orbs of light—actual breastmilk "globules" reflecting light at 750x magnification—which glowed like distant stars to evoke a deep space-inspired dreamscape from the microbiological substance between parent and child. She also collaborated on a bodice, the Stethosuit, which used transmuted audio from Voyager 2 and noises from the wearer’s body to forge harmonic rhythms. She’s currently at work designing speculative religious artifacts and spiritual practices for microgravity, and curating an exhibition about menstruation equity for the Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media’s upcoming hackathon, “There Will Be Blood.”
Valentina Sumini is a postdoctoral researcher and a space architect at MIT Media Lab in the Responsive Environments group and Space Exploration Initiative. She develops design and architectures to sustain human life in extreme environments on Earth and enable human space exploration in low Earth orbit, on the moon, and Mars. Her research interest focuses on inventing new computational design methods for multi-performance habitats, soft-robotic prosthetics and wearable devices to enhance mobility and dexterity in microgravity, and construction techniques using in-situ resources. Over the years she developed in-depth studies that she applied to different extra-planetary scenarios and award winning competitions projects, organized by private organizations and international space agencies like NASA and ESA. Valentina’s research has been featured in MIT News, AIAA, CHI, the Harvard Design Magazine, Ars Electronica, the NBC News, the Architect Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and more.
Jeffrey Montes is a space architect and technologist whose work on habitat designs has been awarded by NASA and private institutions and exhibited around the planet. Jeffrey is the principal designer of Marsha, a novel Mars habitat form, and the lead on the fabrication of its 1:3 scale prototype, which NASA awarded 1st place in the finale of the 3D Printed Habitat Challenge. Marsha was the recipient of the 2019 Index Award which has previously honored the Tesla Roadster, The Ocean Cleanup, and Raspberry Pi. Jeffrey also co-designed the NASA-awarded Mars Ice House (2015) and NASA-developed Mars Ice Home (2017), which utilize ice as a light-transmitting shield for cosmic radiation. Jeffrey runs an active consulting practice, JETPORTAL, which pursues “deep form” in habitable space architectures. Jeffrey is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture and is an inaugural research fellow at Open Lunar Foundation.
Vera Mulyani is an innovative entrepreneur and visionary leader, with multidisciplinary skills in human-centered design and science. Mulyani has developed a distinct concept of Recycling Cities , which consists of transforming damaged areas, formerly industrial and cosmopolitan, into self-sustaining Green Zones, (ex., Ruhr, Germany) to better integrate a natural environment into human living space. Mulyani’s concept of urbanism on Mars advocates a self-sustaining lifestyle on Earth. Mulyani created the original platform for designing cities on Mars, is the CEO and founder of Mars City Design®, and the president of Mars City Foundation (501c3). Mars City Design builds prototypes of an urban infrastructure and human lifestyle for Mars, applicable to sustainable smart cities on Earth.
Georgi Petrov is a practicing architect and structural engineer. He is an associate director at the New York office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where he works on high rises, long span structures, and specialty glass and steel structures in North America, Asia, and the Middle East. Georgi is also an adjunct professor at Tandon School of Engineering at NYU where he teaches Design of Tall Buildings. His space related projects include master planning of settlements for Mars, optimization of surface inflatable modules, and masonry construction under space simulation at MDRS.
Gui Trotti is an internationally recognized architect and industrial designer. His work covers a wide range of fields, from the International Space Station, to the South Pole Station, and many green projects from the Caribbean to Japan. He has circumnavigated the Earth in his sailboat and explored every continent on Spaceship Earth. Mr. Trotti has extensive design and research experience in modular and inflatable structures, construction methods in space, and space mission architectures. His team won the NSF/AIA National Competition for a new South Pole Station, utilizing many parallels and lessons learned from the design of Lunar and Mars bases. His design thesis entitled "Counterpoint: A Lunar Colony" is part of the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum permanent collection. He has taught space architecture design at the College of Architecture at the University of Houston, and Industrial Design courses for extreme environments at the Rhode Island School of Design, and has lectured extensively at universities throughout the world. He is currently on the Board of Directors of Studio Arts College International (SACI) in Florence, Italy.
Mehak Sarang is currently a staff researcher at the MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative (SEI) and research associate at the Harvard Business School (HBS). With SEI, her research spans lunar exploration, space governance, and creating shared architectures for CubeSat platforms. She supports the Lab’s mission towards democratizing access to space through work with the Climate CubeSat Co-build outreach program. At HBS, she works with Professor Matthew Weinzierl to develop case studies on companies and organizations in the space industry. After graduating from Wellesley College, she was chosen as a Knafel Traveling Research Fellow and studied the emerging space sector in ten countries around the world, and remains dedicated to ensuring that people on Earth can share in the benefits of the NewSpace revolution.
Kate McCall-Kiley is currently an MIT Media Lab director's fellow where she is researching simulating governance scenarios in an effort to understand and show potential futures affected by emerging technologies. Her work aims to create new environments and mechanisms for behavior change while experimenting with different ways to productively challenge convention. Kate is also a co-founder at xD, an emerging technologies lab within the US federal government that partners with federal agencies and universities to improve the delivery of government services using artificial intelligence. Previously, Kate served as a White House Presidential Innovation Fellow for the Obama Administration, where she worked on projects including vote.gov, The Opportunity Project, worker.gov, and Vice President Biden's Cancer Moonshot. Her work has been featured in Time, Fast Company, and Wired. In aspirational parallel lives, Kate would love to be a philosopher/ethicist, DJ, and participatory graffiti artist.
Syed Ibrahim Ghaznavi is currently a visiting researcher at the Space Exploration Initiative and a PhD student at the Department of Computing, Imperial College London. His research involves designing, building, and evaluating an immersive virtual reality platform for treating patients with symptoms of chronic anxiety and depression. In the past, he has worked on the Rescue Base Station—a customized cellular network which can reinstate GSM cellular services in catastrophe struck region(s). His research got mentioned by Reuters, Daily Mail, and Voice of America. He was named Imperial Global Fellow 2017.
Pat Pataranutaporn is an antidisciplinary technologist/scientist/artist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is part of the Fluid Interfaces research group at the MIT Media Lab, which specializes in designing on-body technology for human enhancement. Pat's research is at the intersection of biotechnology and wearable computing, specifically at the interface between biological and digital systems.
Abhinandan Jain is a graduate student in the Fluid Interfaces group at the MIT Media Lab. His research focuses on writing information to the body to influence the mind. His projects include non-invasive vestibular and visual stimulation to mitigate space motion sickness, wearable lab on body, and adding proprioceptive feedback to virtual reality experiences using galvanic vestibular stimulation.
Miguel Jimenez joined the laboratory of Robert Langer as a postdoctoral associate in 2017, where he works with Giovanni Traverso on the development of drug delivery systems for microbial therapeutics. He is a fellow of the Academy of Bioastronautics at the Translational Research Institute for Space Health (TRISH). Miguel earned his PhD in Chemistry at Columbia University where he developed synthetic biology-based microbial diagnostics under the supervision of Virginia Cornish as a National Science Foundation Fellow. Miguel earned his BA in chemistry and chemical biology at Harvard University, where he developed a vinyl siloxane metathesis methodology under the supervision of Damian Young and Stuart Schreiber as a Herchel Smith Undergraduate Fellow.
Pattie Maes is a professor in MIT's Program in Media Arts and Sciences and until recently served as academic head. She runs the Media Lab's Fluid Interfaces research group, which aims to radically reinvent the human-machine experience. Coming from a background in artificial intelligence and human-computer interaction, she is particularly interested in the topic of cognitive enhancement, or how immersive and wearable systems can actively assist people with memory, attention, learning, decision making, communication, and wellbeing.
Nicholas de Monchaux was recently announced as the head of Architecture in SA+P (MIT) beginning July 2020. With Kathryn Moll, he is the founder of modem, an architectural practice focused on design across physical and ecological scales. He is the author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (MIT Press, 2011) as well as Local Code: 3,659 Proposals about Data, Design, and the Nature of Cities (Princeton Architectural Press, 2016). Until 2019, de Monchaux was Craigslist Distinguished Professor of New Media and Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UC Berkeley, where he has also served as director of the Berkeley Center for New Media. His and modem’s work has been shown at the Biennial of the Americas, the Venice Architecture Biennale, SFMOMA, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome.
Cady Coleman recently retired from NASA after spending over six months in space over three missions. She flew twice on the Space Shuttle Columbia, and spent 159 days on the International Space Station in 2010-2011 as the expedition lead for both science and robotics on the mission. She led supply-ship operations with NASA’s commercial partners for the Astronaut Office, and finished her NASA career in NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist working on open innovation and public private partnerships. She graduated from MIT with a BS in chemistry, and from the University of Massachusetts with a PhD in polymer science and engineering. She was commissioned in 1983 as a second lieutenant and served in the US Air Force for 26 years.
Samantha Cristoferretti was born in Milan and completed her secondary education at the Liceo Scientifico in Trento, Italy. She graduated in 2001 from the Technische Universität Munich, Germany with a master’s degree in aerospace engineering propulsion and lightweight structures. In 2001, she joined the Italian Air Force, and was admitted to the Air Force Academy as an officer candidate, serving as class leader for four years and earning a bachelor’s degree in aeronautical science. Following her graduation in 2005, she attended the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program at Sheppard Air Force Base in the United States, where she earned her fighter pilot wings in 2006. Samantha Cristoforetti was selected as an ESA astronaut in May 2009. She joined ESA in September 2009 and completed her basic astronaut training in November 2010. In March 2012, she was assigned to fly as flight engineer on the Soyuz TMA-15M, as part of the crew of Expedition 42/43 on the International Space Station, where she spent 200 days. Pending assignment to a second spaceflight, she is now involved as a crew representative in the development phase of the cislunar outpost, “Gateway.”
Oleg Kotov graduated from the Military Medical Academy in 1988 with degrees in clinical medicine and physiology. He attended Military flight school in 1998 (pilot-engineer) and The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration in 2013 (government and municipal administration). From 1988 to 2016, he worked as a leading doctor in the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (GCTC), which is responsible for the training of cosmonauts and astronauts for space flights. From 1996 to 2016, Kotov served as a cosmonaut, participating in three International Space Station Program long duration space flights as Soyuz vehicle commander, and in ISS 23 and ISS 38 as crew commander. He has spent 526 days in space and has performed 6 EVAs.
From May 2016 to October 2017, Kotov served as head of the Human Space Flight program center at the Central Institute of Machine Building, part of the Russian Federal Space Agency. He was responsible for the planning and implementation of space experiments on the International Space Station. Since November 2017, he has worked for the Institute of Biomedical Problems, part of the Russian Science Academy. Kotov's current position is the deputy director for science, and is responsible for the biomedical science program aboard the International Space Station. He is also the president of the Association of Space Explorers, and his areas of expertise are current and future human space flights.
Paolo Nespoli spent eight years with the Italian Army right out of high school, before obtaining a bachelor of science in aerospace engineering and a master’s of science in aeronautics and astronautics from the Polytechnic University of New York (currently NYU). He then worked in Italy as a design engineer, then as a training engineer at the European Space Agency (ESA) at the newly formed European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany. In 1998 he was selected as an astronaut by the Italian Space Agency, and sent to train at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. He flew his first space flight in 2007 on STS-120, a short-duration Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station (ISS). He flew on the ISS long-duration mission Expedition-26/27 (2010-11), and the ISS Expedition-52/53 (2017). He has logged a total of 313 days in space.
Sarah Cruddas is a space journalist, TV host, author, and global thought leader in the commercial space sector. She has an academic background in astrophysics. She is the author of three children's books about space published by Dorling Kindersley and is currently writing her first adults title to be published fall 2020 by Harper Collins. In the US she is the host of Contact on Discovery Channel and Science Channel. In the UK she appears as a space expert across all main national TV channels including BBC, Sky News, and Channel 5.
Within the commercial space sector Sarah works as a director at Space for Humanity, a Colorado based global nonprofit aimed at democratizing access to space. She also speaks internationally about the commercial space sector. Sarah writes about space for The Telegraph, CNN, Politico, The Sunday Times, and the BBC.
Larry D. James was appointed deputy director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in August 2013. As the Laboratory's chief operating officer, he is responsible to the director for the day-to-day management of JPL's resources and activities.
Prior to his retirement from the Air Force and his appointment as JPL Deputy Director, Lt. Gen. James was the Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at the Pentagon.
He was responsible to the Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force for policy formulation, planning, evaluation, oversight, and leadership of Air Force intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities and led more than 20,000 Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance officers, enlisted and civilians, across the Air Force ISR Enterprise.
Lt. Gen. James received his bachelor of science in Astronautical Engineering (1978) from the US Air Force Academy (Distinguished Graduate) and his master of science in Aeronautics and Astronautics (1983) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA. He was also a Draper Fellow at the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory in Cambridge, MA.
Brent Sherwood is vice president, advanced development programs for Blue Origin, a private space company building the foundation for millions of people living and working in space. He is responsible for the development of in-space systems and services for human space flight, space cargo, and space infrastructure that collectively will open space to human expansion. He reports to Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith.
Brent came to Blue Origin from JPL, where he was the founding manager of the JPL Innovation Foundry and later the program manager for Solar System Mission Formulation. In those roles he respectively led the integration of JPL's mission formulation and competitive proposal operations, and the strategic pursuit of discovery missions, new frontiers missions, unsolicited planetary missions, and future planetary flagship missions.
Prior to JPL, Brent was at the Boeing Company, where he led a succession of teams that developed human lunar and Mars exploration system concepts, Space Station Freedom module manufacturing methods, Sea Launch services pursuits, entrepreneurial civil and commercial space initiatives, International Space Station business development, and pursuit of planetary science objectives ranging from the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter to Mars Sample Return.
A space architect, Brent is chair of the AIAA Space Architecture Technical Committee. He has published over 60 papers on the exploration and development of space.
Brent holds a summa cum laude bachelor of arts degree from Yale, a master of architecture degree also from Yale, and a master of science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.
Ariel Ekblaw is the founder and lead of the MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative, a team of over 50 graduate students, faculty, and staff actively prototyping our sci-fi space future. For the Initiative, Ariel directs space research and launch opportunities across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, and design, and builds collaborations on this work with MIT and Space Industry partners. Ariel is simultaneously a graduate research assistant at the MIT Media Lab, where she is completing a PhD in aerospace structures in Dr. Joseph Paradiso's Responsive Environments group. Her current research includes designing, testing, and deploying self-assembling space architecture for future space tourist habitats and space stations in orbit around the Earth and Mars. Ariel brings an interdisciplinary approach to her research at the Media Lab, with undergraduate degrees in physics, mathematics, and philosophy from Yale University and a master’s in blockchain research from MIT. Her past work experience includes blockchain product development, cloud computing analytics at Microsoft Azure, big data programming at the CERN Particle Physics Laboratory, microgravity flight research with NASA, and Mars2020 rover hardware systems engineering at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Ariel’s work has been featured in AIAA, IEEE, WIRED, the BBC, CNN, Ars Electronica, MIT Technology Review, Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, PRI’s ScienceFriday, and more.