Dr. Darlene Lim
NASA Ames Research Center
Dr. Darlene Lim is a geobiologist based at the NASA Ames Research Center in California. Darlene leads several NASA-funded research programs that are focused on blending field science research with the development of capabilities and concepts for future human spaceflight into deep space and Mars. She is the Principal Investigator of the NASA-funded SUBSEA, BASALT and Pavilion Lake research programs, and the Deputy Principal Investigator of the NASA SSERVI FINESSE research program. She currently sits on the Ocean Exploration Advisory Board to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and was formerly the Goal IV (Human Exploration) Co-Chair of the NASA Mars Exploration Program Analysis Group (MEPAG).
Dr. Michaelyn Thomas
Dr. Michaelyn Thomas is the Head of Affordability at Virgin Orbit in Long Beach, California. It is her job to make rocket science affordable! Virgin Orbit is on a mission to democratize and open space for everyone by providing dedicated, responsive, and affordable launch services for small satellites. With more than 11 years in the aerospace industry, her unique aerospace leadership roles have spanned across finance and program management for government and commercial space programs. Dr. Thomas holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a Minor degree in Russian language, a Master of Business Administration degree, and a Doctorate degree in Organizational Leadership. Her dissertation is entitled, Exploring the Advancement of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Executive Management Positions in the Aerospace Industry: Strategies Identified by Women that Enable Success. Her most recent publication, “Empowering Women to take on STEM Leadership Positions within the Aerospace Industry,” appeared in the November 2018 issue of STEM for Women Magazine.
Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton
Arizona State University
Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton is the director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University, co-chair of the Interplanetary Initiative, and she is the Principal Investigator of NASA’s Psyche mission. She is a two-time National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow and served on the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey Mars panel. In 2008 she was awarded a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER award, and in 2009 was named Outstanding MIT Faculty Undergraduate Research Mentor. In 2010 she was awarded the Explorers Club Lowell Thomas prize. In 2013 she was named the Astor Fellow at Oxford University, and in 2016 she was named a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.
Dr. Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil
University of Arizona
Dr. Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil is searching for the most peculiar objects in the Universe. Her research has led to the discovery of an extremely rare galaxy with a unique circular structure, which is now commonly referred to as Burçin’s Galaxy. Her work has provided the first description of a double-ringed elliptical galaxy, challenging current theories and assumptions about how the universe works and how galaxies start and evolve. Mutlu-Pakdil earned her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, and her undergraduate degree is from Bilkent University in Turkey. She is currently a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona and a 2018 TED Fellow. She spends most of her time searching for the hierarchical structure at the scale of dwarf galaxies as a novel test of the Cold Dark Matter paradigm. She uses data gathered in a large range of wavelengths from premier telescopes worldwide and wants to learn more about how the Universe came to be the way it is today. Mutlu-Pakdil’s findings have been featured by CNN, National Geographic, Science Daily, Astronomy Magazine, Independent and MPR News, among many others. Damon Brown wrote in his regular Inc. Magazine online column: “Many organizations are dedicated to filling the STEM pipeline with more girls and women. Others are supporting the cause by being an example. TED Fellow Burçin is representing by being one of the most notable astrophysicists today.”
Stephanie Wan, M.A.
Space Generation Advisory Council
Stephanie Wan is an International Government Relations Manager at I.M. Systems Group, and also works at the U.S. State Department Space and Advanced Technology Office under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act agreement focusing on the Space Policy Directive-3 Space Situational Awareness and Space Traffic Management. Her previous role includes spending 8+ years supporting Strategic Communications and GPS Policy at NASA HQ’s Space Communication and Navigation (SCaN) Office in Washington, DC. In 2015-2017, she was the Chair of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), the leading international nonprofit organization that brings young space enthusiasts together to provide a voice in space policy. Through her activities with SGAC, she has engaged with space industry and government leaders to offer more leadership opportunities and inspire students and young professionals around the world.