Meet Our Team

We bring together diverse and highly qualified individuals from

space and technology space sectors to deliver the best learning experiences for our participants.

Dr. James Green

Jim Green has worked at NASA for 42 years before retiring in December 2022. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Iowa in 1979 and began working at the Marshall Space Flight Center as a scientist. Jim developed and managed the Space Physics Analysis Network and was a safety diver in the Neutral Buoyancy tank making over 150 dives until 1985. Jim then went to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center where he held several management positions in the Space Sciences Directorate. Jim was the co-investigator and the Deputy Project Scientist on the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) mission. From 1992 to 2000 he was also the Deputy Project Scientist for Mission Operations and Data Analysis for the Global Geospace Science Missions WIND and POLAR. From 2006 until 2018 Jim was the Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters becoming the division’s longest serving director with the overall programmatic responsibility for over a dozen missions including the New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto, the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, and the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, just to name a few. From 2018-2022 he was the NASA’s Chief Scientist. Jim has written over 125 scientific articles in refereed journals and over 80 technical and popular articles. In 2017 Asteroid 25913 was renamed Jamesgreen in his honor. In 2015, Dr. Green coordinated NASA’s involvement with the film The Martian.

Dr. Trudi Hoogenboom

Dr. Trudi Hoogenboom is a Planetary Scientist and Planetary Science teacher with a PhD in Planetary Geophysics from the University of Leeds. Dr. Trudi has worked as a research scientist at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the Lunar and Planetary Institute, and the Arctic Planetary Science Institute.  She co-authored the first topographic map of Io, the first geological map of 4Vesta and sits on various NASA proposal funding panels. 

Dr. Trudi joined Ad Astra/Astra Nova, the school founded by Elon Musk and Josh Dahn at SpaceX, teaching learners around the world to use professional-grade astrophysical software to find main-belt asteroids, create peer-review publishable research projects including AI detection of craters on the Moon, glacier mapping on Mars and various cave identification and Ganymede-related projects. Her Astra Nova Asteroid Search Team students locate previously unidentified asteroids are listed with NASA’s minor planet center as the discoverer and granted naming rights.

Dr. Trishit Ruj

Trishit Ruj is a Planetary Geologist working at Earth-Life Science Institute.  He has 4+ years of post-PhD experience from the University of Tokyo with a prestigious JSPS postdoctoral fellowship and from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). His expertise is in tectonics, advanced geomorphological analysis, remote sensing, and GIS with a proven track record. Trishit is currently involved in the International Mars Ice Mapper mission and post-MMX Martian exploration.

Dr. Anna Gulcher

Dr. Anna Gülcher is a computational Earth and planetary scientist. She currently works as a researcher at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the California Institute of Technology. Anna has an Undergraduate degree in Earth Sciences from Utrecht University, the Netherlands, and obtained her MSc and PhD degrees in Geophysics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, Switzerland. Her research focuses on – but is not restricted to – the interior and tectonic processes that shape rocky planets and how they contribute to their (in)habitability. She combines state-of-the-art numerical modeling techniques with physics, space sciences, geology, and geo/cosmo-chemistry to understand the interior dynamics of planets. She is involved in several space missions dedicated to unravel the mysteries of our neighboring planet Venus (e.g., NASA’s VERITAS and ESA/NASA’s ENVision missions) and serves a term on the Steering Committee of NASA’s Venus Exploration and Analysis Group. 

Dr. Zhi-ang Chen

Dr. Zhi-ang Chen is a Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University and will be joining Caltech as a Postdoc from July 2023. He develops robotics and machine learning technologies for geosciences, focusing on on seismic hazard analysis, geomorphology, disaster assessment, and environmental monitoring. To prepare students for future academia and industry that demand interdisciplinary solutions, he aims for the transition of robotics and machine learning education in geosciences.

Dr. Dolon Bhattacharyya

Dr. Dolon Bhattacharyya’s obtained her Ph.D. in Astronomy from Boston University in 2016. Her primary research interest is studying atmospheric escape from planets both within the Solar System and exoplanets. Her research has mostly been focused on studying water escape from Mars with Hubble Space Telescope (HST) observations and MAVEN-IUVS observations of the Hydrogen and Deuterium Lyman-alpha emission (121.56 nm). She has developed a radiative transfer model to analyze the observed atmospheric Lyman-alpha emission to determine the temperature, distribution, and escape rate of H and D atoms from planetary exospheres. Her NASA mission experiences include being a science team member of MAVEN-IUVS instrument and serving as the Project Scientist for the Carruthers Geocorona Observatory (previously GLIDE). Dr. Bhattacharyya’s current projects include studying the atmospheric evolution of Uranus and charting out the water escape history timeline of Mars with HST observations, understanding atmospheric escape from Ultra-hot exoplanets with HST data and CUTE (CubeSat) observations, modeling the effect of stellar flux on an Earth-like exoplanet orbiting different types of stars, and characterizing Earth’s hydrogen exosphere with GOES satellite data. Her website can be found here: https://lasp.colorado.edu/people /dolon-bhattacharyya/

Dr. Albert Conrad

Dr. Conrad received his PhD in Computer Science from the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1994. After working as a software engineer and support astronomer at both Lick and Keck Observatories, he moved to the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg to lead the development of a next generation adaptive optics system. Currently, as staff scientist at the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory, he develops systems for high angular resolution and conducts research in planetary science.

As adjunct faculty at the University of Hawaii, Al teaches courses in Computational Astronomy and Software Systems for Astronomy. As both an astronomer and a software developer, Dr. Albert Conrad has developed and used software systems for all phases of observing: from planning the observation, to taking the data, to analyzing the data in preparation for publication.

Dr. Conrad’s research interests include asteroid systems and developing novel techniques to study comets, planets, and the moons of planets, in particular Jupiter’s moon Io. His complete bibliography includes over 150 publications including 40 articles in refereed journals. These include his early software designs for the Keck Observatory, his discovery of a small moon orbiting the asteroid 41 Daphne, and applying the resolution of a 23 meter telescope (LBT) to detect variation in a lava lake on Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io. Asteroid 22899 was given the name AlConrad in recognition of Al’s contributions in the field of astronomy at the 2016 Binaries in the Solar System workshop in Prague.

Al’s overall mission in astronomy is to contribute to the exploration, and eventual habitation, of the nearby Solar System. He enjoys cycling and outrigger canoe paddling.

Dr. Olga Volynskaya

Dr. Olga Volynskaya is a qualified international lawyer with 15 years of academic and practical experience in space law, policy and diplomacy.

She was Chief International Law Advisor of the Russian space agency, then practiced space law at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Dr. Volynskaya has extensive expertise in academic legal research and teaching. She is author and co-author of 88 scientific publications, lectured on space law and policy in universities of France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Russia and South Africa.

Olga is a member of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) and academician of the Tsiolkovsky Russian Academy of Cosmonautics.

Dr. Eric Christiansen

Dr. Eric Christiansen is a volcanologist and planetary geologist. He received his Ph.D. in geology from Arizona State University in 1981. Since then he has worked at the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Iowa, and Brigham Young University.

 

He has written multiple editions of three different textbooks; two of them are now online (Dynamic Earth and Exploring the Planets). He has taught thousands of students in class, online, and in the field. He has also written over 100 peer-reviewed articles, including studies of Mars, Io, and Titan as well as papers on the geology of the western United States.

 

Eric joined the Metavisionary Academy as an instructor in 2023. He looks forward to bringing science into the lives of the next generation using new VR technologies that put students on planets and asteroids so they can explore for themselves and discover the fundamental principles that govern the lives of the planets in our Solar System.

Dr. Will Oldroyd

Will Oldroyd is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science at Northern Arizona University. Will’s current projects include searching for asteroids with comet-like tails (activeasteroids.net) and JWST observations in connection with NASA’s DART planetary defense mission. When not observing or coding, Will enjoys hiking, cooking, and playing board games with his wife and kids.

Dr. Elizabeth Tasker

Elizabeth Tasker is an associate professor in astrophysics and science communicator at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS). Tasker graduated in theoretical physics from the University of Durham in the UK, before pursuing her doctorate in astrophysics at the University of Oxford. Her research has explored galaxy, star and planet formation using computer simulations and machine learning, and she is also interested in developing virtual and online spaces for accessible outreach and education. Tasker is a member of the outreach teams for space missions such as JAXA’s Hayabusa2 and the up-coming Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) mission, as well as the feature writer for the JAXA ISAS blog, “Cosmos” which covers a wide range of space-related missions and topics. Her popular science book on extrasolar planets, ’The Planet Factory’, was published by Bloomsbury in 2017, and she is the lead editor and contributing author to the research textbook, ‘Planetary Diversity: Rocky planet processes and their observational signatures” , published by AAS/IOP in 2020. 

Hernan David Mateus Jimenez

David Mateus is a Ph.D. student and Graduate research assistant at the Human Space Flight Laboratory at the University of North Dakota. His research is focused mainly on designing and manufacturing 3D-printed spacesuits. Hi has participated in several missions in different space analogs worldwide, such as the Mars Desert Research Station, the Inflatable Lunar Mars Analog Habitat, and The Mars Ocean Analogs.

Mariam Naseem

Mariam Naseem is a Polar & Planetary Science Researcher and Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland, College Park where she investigates geological processes on icy ocean worlds through terrestrial analogs. Prior to commencing her Ph.D., Mariam worked with the Industry Relations team at the Canadian Space Agency to support Canadian space companies with business development engagements. Mariam has also served as a Research Fellow at the Open Lunar Foundation contributing to an open communication architecture for the Moon, and as a policy researcher at Arizona State University’s Space Governance Lab, analyzing technologies and policies with a focus on emerging space nations.

 

Mariam brings a global and multi-disciplinary background to the space sector, with an MBA from the University of Toronto and a BSc in Electrical Engineering from UT Austin. She has worked as a technology strategist in the Enterprise Innovation team at one of the largest banks in Canada, as a field engineer on an oil rig in Russia, a manufacturing engineer in a product development center in Texas and as a business development manager for a Toronto-based quantum computing startup.

 

Outside work, Mariam volunteers as lead coordinator for the International Astronautical Federation’s Next Generation Plenary Steering Committee, as a SEDS-Canada Advisory Board member and on the Space Generation Advisory Council’s Mentoring & Gender Equality and Diversity Committees. She is also an alumna of the International Space University’s Space Studies Program.

Sebasthian Ogalde

Sebasthian is a Chilean analog astronaut, embedded systems engineer, entrepreneur and aspiring astronaut. He graduated from both Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Politecnico di Torino. Before taking on a position as an automotive engineer in Turin, Italy, he contributed to the testing and integration of European Space Agency’s Euclid space telescope for several years. In this way he has gained hands-on experience with cutting-edge satellite technologies. Sebasthian also aspires to become the first Chilean in space.

As the CEO and Co-Founder of the pioneer company Andes Aerospace, he is leading a team of interdisciplinary professionals to bring space technologies to strategic industries such as Mining, Defence and Emergency Handling in Latin America and Europe. Through his leadership, Andes Aerospace brings and implements advancements in these sectors, propelling them towards a future infused with innovation, and allowing them to integrate space-for-space technologies into their processes and services.

Sebasthian’s diverse range of interests extends beyond aerospace. He is a scuba diver, a skilled private pilot, and a polyglot. These additional pursuits speak to his dedication to personal growth and space exploration. To learn more about his space career visit: http://astro-ogalde.cl [in Spanish].

Rachel Lowers

Rachel Lowers is a Planetary Science graduate student at the University of Central Florida and research assistant at the Florida Space Institute investigating the processes of asteroid fragmentation. During her undergraduate studies in physics, she completed a fellowship obtaining photometry of comets: crucial data that helps to unravel their composition and behavior. As an advocate for interplanetary exploration, Rachel led a project growing plants in Martian simulant to explore sustainable living beyond Earth. 

Rachel helps lead public observing events and outreach programs, sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for astronomy with the general public, ensuring scientific concepts are accessible and inspiring to all. Her past work includes President of the Astronomy Society at UCF, fostering a community of individuals eager to learn about the universe. She completed NASA’s virtual L’SPACE Academies in which she teamed with students across the United States to write proposals for a lunar cryogenic piping system and a mission to Mars to search for evidence of life. She also acted as a science advisor for the Plant the Moon Challenge. Rachel continues pursuing her passion for space exploration through scientific inquiry and strives to inspire others and contribute to our understanding of the universe.

Atila Meszaros

Atila Meszaros is a Biosystems Engineering Ph.D. Student at the University of Arizona. His research focuses on designing modern food production systems in controlled environments, with a focus on automation and analytics, applicable for both terrestrial commercial use in space analog habitats with a human in-the-loop function. He has a background in field biology working with extremophile organisms and their biomarkers in order to understand how to find life outside Earth. He’s one of the National Points of Contact in Peru for the Space Generation Advisory Council. His team won the Caltech Space Challenge 2019, designing a mission to probe Enceladus, one of the moons of Saturn for the presence of life and habitability conditions. He was the first intern at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), working with extremophile organisms and learning how to perform research on Mars analogs. During the winter of 2019, he got the opportunity to work as Assistant Director at the MDRS, managing the campus program, training and supporting incoming and participating researchers and students. In addition, he oversees the Internship Program and the Entrepreneurship Group. Atila has been in 7 space analog missions and can’t wait for the next one. In his free time, if he’s not playing the ukulele, reading Lovecraft, or writing terrible poetry, he could be traveling cross-country on Greyhound to go see Bob Dylan.

Carolynn (Carrie) Harris

Carolynn (Carrie) Harris is a Ph.D. Candidate in Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College. Her research aims to develop new ways of searching for life beyond Earth, which incorporates organic geochemistry, microbiology of extreme environments, and astrobiology. Carrie has conducted field research around the globe, including the Arctic, the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica, and the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Carrie is an Outreach Ambassador for the MOSAiC Expedition, a year-long expedition for the study of Arctic climate. She was also a Mission Specialist analog astronaut with NASA HERA in 2020, spending 45 days simulating a long duration mission to the Martian moon Phobos. Carrie’s hobbies include hiking and reading about exploring. Her website can be found at: https://carolynnharris.com/

Scott Ritter

Scott is a scientist and engineer at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in Cologne, Germany. He supports ongoing human health monitoring studies during spaceflight, in collaboration with the European Astronaut Center. Prior to this, Scott worked for the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in Vienne, Austria, and for the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, USA. Within the space community, Scott has taught at the International Space University in the Masters in Space Studies and summer Space Studies Programs. Scott also serves as an instructor for the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS). Scott holds master’s degrees from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France and from Stanford University in California. He is a licensed professional aerospace engineer and a certified scuba diver.

Remco Timmermans

Remco Timmermans is an independent online marketing and social media specialist for the international space sector. He is a well-known space influencer and mentor to aspiring space communicators. He is the founder of his own space marketing agency Spaceside OÜ, a faculty member of the International Space University and a member of the IAF (International Astronautical Federation) Space Education and Outreach Committee.

Remco designs and runs creative online campaigns for a variety of space organisations, both in academic, government and commercial space. He is a founding member of the new Space Communications Alliance, which brings together key media, PR and communications organisations in the space industry.

Remco has an undergraduate degree in business administration and mechanical engineering, a master’s degree in business sciences, and he is a graduate of the International Space University Space Studies Program, where he also periodically teaches space management and business, with an emphasis on marketing and communication.

Dan Lakis

Dan is a professional educator and pioneer in the digital learning ecosystem. He holds a Master’s degree in Economics from UC San Diego, USA.

Dan Lakis was the Vice Principal and a founding teacher at Ad Astra, the school on the campus of SpaceX. Ad Astra evolved to become Astra Nova School, which was co-founded by Dan and offers pioneering online learning experiences for students around the world.

Dan was also among the first facilitators for Synthesis School, an online enrichment program for ages 8 to 14 with a mission to nurture future innovators. He also performs data analysis on big data as a Senior Research Associate for GoGuardian, a company that powers K-12 digital learning environments where every student can thrive.

Leveraging Dan’s industry-tested data analysis experience, his classes are designed to grow student’s data science and problem solving skills. Equally important to Dan, he uses his near decade-long teaching experience to coach students on communication, accountability, and how to actively pursue a growth mindset.

Elza Evren

“I’m Elza Evren, a biomedical scientist captivated by the wonders of space. With a Ph.D. in Medical Science from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, and an M.Sc. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Sorbonne University in Paris, France, my research background focuses on human physiology on Earth.

 However, my passion for space compels me to explore how the human body adapts to spaceflight and share my knowledge with others. I firmly believe in the importance of spreading scientific awareness and educating future generations about scientific advancements and their impact. It is this conviction that motivates me to teach the Humans in Space class at the Metavisionaries Academy.”

Yoav Landsman

Yoav Landsman is a visionary space professional. He is an accomplished space engineer, entrepreneur, educator, and mentor. Yoav began his career in Israel, where he has played a pivotal role in several successful missions in geostationary orbit and one trailblazing mission to the surface of the Moon. 

As a consultant and mentor, Yoav provided technical solutions, mission planning guidance, and business development support to many international space startups and organizations. 

Beyond his professional endeavors, Yoav actively contributes to the space community through educational outreach, public lectures, and other activities. 

Yoav holds academic degrees in aerospace engineering and planetary sciences, and he is an alumnus of the International Space University (ISU), where he studied in the business and management department. 

Yoav is also a Karman Fellow, selected for his outstanding achievements in space, and is considered a leader who is shaping the future of space. 

Currently residing in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Yoav has recently taken on the role of Business Development Manager at ClearSpace, a European space startup. 

Heylen

Heylen holds a Masters in Space Engineering from the Technische Universität Berlin, with a focus on small satellite research and trajectory analysis. She conducted research for the final phase of the JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) mission by evaluating how orbital changes may affect the measurements of the laser instruments. Developed by The European Space Agency (ESA), the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, (JUICE) mission, will make detailed observations of the giant gas planet and its three large ocean-bearing moons – Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa – with a suite of remote sensing, geophysical and in situ instruments. In addition, Heylen is a volunteer for the Colombian Space Agency and for the Apollo Group which promotes children’s Space Education in Colombia.