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Beyond the Cradle 2019 Speakers

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NASA

Heidi Piper

Houston we are GO for launch!

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Various

Joichi "Joi" Ito has been recognized for his work as an activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and advocate of emergent democracy, privacy, and Internet freedom. As director of the MIT Media Lab, he explores how radical new approaches to science and technology can transform society in substantial and positive ways. Together with The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi, Ito is promoting the contribution that awareness and focus can bring to the creativity process. He is chairman of the board of PureTech, has served as both board chair and CEO of Creative Commons, and sits on the boards of Sony Corporation, Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and The New York Times Company. In Japan, he was a founder of Digital Garage, and helped to establish the country’s first commercial Internet service provider. He is co-author with Jeff Howe of Whiplash: How to Survive Our Faster Future (Grand Central Publishing).

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.

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 coordinates 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, Ars Technica, Ars Electronica, MIT Technology Review, Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, PRI’s ScienceFriday, and more.

Plenary keynote

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Samuel Ting, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Physics at MIT, was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Shortly after he received his education from the University of Michigan, he began proposing and leading high-energy physics experiments with international collaborations. His major contributions include: 

Discovery of the heavy antimatter nuclei, the anti-deuteron; the limit on the radius of the electron; determining the relationship between light rays and massive light rays, (vector mesons); discovery of an unexpected new family of elementary particles with extremely long lifetimes, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize; and discovery of the gluon, the carrier of the nuclear force. 

Ting developed and leads the precision magnetic spectrometer experiment, AMS, on the Space Station. Results have shown that extremely high-energy positrons and antiprotons are likely to come from dark matter collisions and high-energy electrons come from an unknown origin. None of the results on cosmic nuclei agree with current theories. AMS is exploring a new area of physics.

Plenary Address and Panel: Our Sci-Fi Space Future

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Victoria Jaggard is the senior editor for Science & Innovation at National Geographic. Before joining Nat Geo, Jaggard was a science editor for Smithsonian magazine. She has also served as physical sciences news editor for New Scientist and as a reporter for Chemical & Engineering News. During her career, Jaggard has dug for fossils in Wyoming, ridden a prototype moon buggy, and held an astrolabe used by Galileo. She received a degree in science writing/journalism from Lehigh University. When she’s not geeking out over space exploration, Jaggard can be found playing video games, watching anime, or singing in the nearest karaoke bar. She lives in Washington, D.C.

Daniel Suarez is a New York Times bestselling author, TEDGlobal speaker, and former systems analyst. His unique brand of high-tech fiction explores the causes and impacts of rapid technological change. The author of six novels, his latest, Delta-v, is a realistic space-tech adventure depicting the first commercial asteroid mining expedition and will be published by Dutton on April 23, 2019.

Marc Okrand devised the dialogue and coached the actors speaking the Klingon language heard in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and Star Trek Into Darkness. He also created the Atlantean language heard in the animated feature Atlantis: The Lost Empire. The Klingon language he developed has continued to be used in the later Star Trek TV series. In addition, he created Vulcan, Romulan, Kelpien, and other languages for several Star Trek films and TV series. He is the author of The Klingon Dictionary, The Klingon Way: A Warrior's Guide, and Klingon For the Galactic Traveler. He is also an associate producer of the documentary "Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues" (2017). He has a PhD in linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC.

Ytasha L. Womack is an award-winning producer, director, author, and innovator.  She is author of the critically acclaimed books Afrofuturism: The World of Black Sci Fi & Fantasy Culture, Rayla 2212, Post Black: How a New Generation is Redefining African American Identity, and co-edited Beats Rhymes and Life: What We Love and Hate About Hip Hop. Afrofuturism is a 2014 Locus Awards Nonfiction Finalist, and Post Black was hailed as a Booklist Top 10 Black History Reader of 2010. Her films include Love Shorts and The Engagement. The Engagement was nominated for Best Film at the American Black Film Festival. A Chicago native, she recently co-founded Afrofuturism849  to host discussions and events in Afrofuturism. She shoots her sci-fi film Bar Star City later this year.

Plenary address and conversation with:

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Larry D. James was appointed deputy director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in August 2013. At JPL he is the Laboratory's chief operating officer responsible to the director for the day-to-day management of JPL's resources and activities. This includes managing the Laboratory's solar system exploration, Mars, astronomy, physics, Earth science, interplanetary network programs, and all business operations. These activities employ 5,800 scientists, engineers, technicians, and business support personnel, generating $2.2 billion in annual revenues. 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. 

Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides is a founder astronaut at Virgin Galactic and will be taking one of the first suborbital flights on SpaceShipTwo. Loretta has degrees in biology from Caltech and Stanford. She traveled to the bottom of the ocean with director James Cameron for the 3D IMAX movie Aliens of the Deep. Loretta has worked on 80 zero g flights and in the Arctic studying plant life in extreme environments. Loretta is the co-creator of Yuri's Night, the world space party—every April 12th. She co-created it with her now-husband George Whitesides in 2001.  This year there are major events in Seattle, DC, LA, and at KSC. A leader and pioneer in the space community, Loretta is passionate about bringing together people who want to use space to make a difference for the planet. Her book, The New Right Stuff, is about building the science-fiction culture to go along with the spaceships.

Space Industry Talk

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Robbie Schingler is the co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) of Planet. As CSO, Robbie leads the company’s long-term strategic trajectory and manages Planet’s Impact and US government teams. He spearheaded Planet’s acquisition of BlackBridge in 2015 and leads the company’s R&D teams, developing Planet’s next generation of remote sensing capabilities. Prior to Planet, Robbie spent nine years at NASA, where he helped build the Small Spacecraft Office at NASA Ames and was Capture Manager for the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). He received an MBA from Georgetown University, an MS in Space Studies from the International Space University, and a BS in Engineering Physics from Santa Clara University. Learn more about Robbie and Planet at www.planet.com and follow him and our Twitter for updates at @schingler and @PlanetLabs.

Democratizing "Open Space" Panel

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Kerri Cahoy is an Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT and leads the Space Telecommunications, Astronomy, and Radiation (STAR) Laboratory. Cahoy received a BS (2000) in electrical engineering from Cornell University, and MS (2002) and PhD (2008) in electrical engineering from Stanford University. Dr. Cahoy previously worked at Space Systems Loral, as a postdoctoral fellow at NASA Ames, and currently leads nano-satellite atmospheric sensing (MicroMAS, MiRaTA), optical communications (NODE, CLICK), and exoplanet technology demonstration (DeMi) missions.

Alexander MacDonald is the senior economic advisor within the Office of the Administrator at NASA Headquarters. He is recognized as an expert on the economic history of American space exploration and contemporary private-sector space activities. He was previously the founding program executive of NASA's Emerging Space Office, which conducts economic analysis on the emerging commercial space sector and established NASA’s first grants program for economics research. He is the author and editor of a number of NASA reports including "Emerging Space: The Evolving Landscape of 21st Century American Spaceflight," "Public-Private Partnerships for Space Capability Development," and "Economic Development of Low-Earth Orbit."

Leland Melvin’s first NASA job was as an engineer at Langley Research Center, where he focused on nondestructive testing, creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles. He joined NASA’s astronaut training program in 1998, but an underwater training incident made him deaf, disqualifying him from space flight. His hearing improved over the years and, after he was medically cleared, Melvin logged over 565 hours aboard the shuttle Atlantis in 2008 and 2009. He was appointed head of NASA Education in 2010 and served as co-chair of a White House task force—Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education—developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plan. Melvin was also the US representative and chair of the International Space Education Board. He has a BSc in chemistry and a master’s in materials science engineering, as well as five honorary doctorates for his service in education, the sciences, and philanthropy.

Teasel Muir-Harmony is curator of the Apollo Spacecraft Collection at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. After earning her PhD from MIT’s Program in History, Anthropology, Science, Technology, and Society, she was an associate historian at the American Institute of Physics. Muir-Harmony’s current research focuses on the history of space diplomacy, examining how Project Apollo shaped and mediated the United States’ role on the global stage. She is the author of Apollo to the Moon: A History in 50 Objects (National Geographic, 2018), and has written on the history of science diplomacy, the material culture of spaceflight, and the political history of space exploration. She serves on the Smithsonian exhibit committees for Destination Moon and One World Connected, and is the historical advisor for a six-part television series on Project Apollo. In addition, Muir-Harmony co-organizes the Space Policy & History Forum and teaches in Georgetown University’s Science, Technology and International Affairs program.

Frank White is a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard College, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and a Rhodes Scholar. He earned an MPhil in politics from Oxford University. Frank’s best-known work, The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution, is considered by many to be a seminal work in the field of space exploration. A film called Overview, based largely on his work, has had eight million plays on Vimeo. White has long advocated developing a new philosophy of space exploration. His book on this topic, The Cosma Hypothesis: Implications of the Overview Effect, asks the fundamental question, “What is the purpose of human space exploration?” In the book, he shares the idea of “the Human Space Program” as a “central project” that will engage all of us in the process of becoming “Citizens of the Universe.” White has taught in the Harvard Extension School since 1995 and is, for the first time, teaching “Introduction to Space Studies” this year.

Space Industry and Research Talk

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Dr. Natalya Bailey is the CEO and co-founder at Accion Systems and widely considered one of the top leaders in the emerging field of small satellite propulsion. Accion provides in-space propulsion engines for satellites and spacecraft. An Oregon native, Dr. Bailey moved to Cambridge, MA to complete her doctorate in space propulsion at MIT's Space Propulsion Laboratory, where she helped invent the first working prototype of an ion engine technology for small satellites, which would become the first product at Accion. Prior to MIT, she invented a new chemical rocket technology that she turned into a space startup. Dr. Bailey also has an MS from Duke University and a BS in aerospace engineering from San Diego State University.

Frontiers for Space Exploration

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Dr. Dava Newman is the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics at MIT and Harvard–MIT Health, Sciences, and Technology faculty member. She served as NASA Deputy Administrator (2015-17), the first female engineer, and was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Her research and teaching expertise include aerospace biomedical engineering, astronaut performance, advanced space suit design, leadership development, innovation, and space policy. Newman has been principal investigator on four spaceflight missions flown aboard the Space Shuttle, Russian Mir Space Station, and the International Space Station, and is best known for her revolutionary BioSuit™ planetary spacesuit. She is the author of Interactive Aerospace Engineering and Design, has over 300 publications, has supervised 90 graduate students, and mentored more than 200 undergraduates. Recent honors include: Lowell Thomas Award, AIAA Fellow, Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar, AIAA Jeffries Aerospace Medicine and Life Sciences Research Award, and the Women in Aerospace Leadership Award.

Leon Alkalai is a JPL Fellow (2014) and is a full member of the International Academy of Astronautics (2005). He is currently the manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Planning, responsible for developing a long-term vision and strategic plan for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, developing and maintaining strategic partnerships and developing new pathways for the future of the laboratory. Alkalai received his PhD in computer science from UCLA in 1989 and has been working at JPL ever since. For the first 14 years of his career, Leon was a leader in Advanced Avionics Systems, Micro-Systems, Micro/Nano Spacecraft, and related technologies. He led JPL’s Center for Integrated Space Microsystems (CISM), which was developing highly integrated “Systems on A Chip” and pioneering new micro and nano satellites. For the past 15 years, Leon has been in the forefront of JPL’s competed mission’s project formulation as a manager and a business capture lead.

Professor Sara Seager of MIT holds joint appointments in the departments of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences (EAPS), Physics, and Aeronautics and Astronautics. Professor Seager’s current research focuses on exoplanet atmospheres and the future search for signs of life by way of biosignature gases in the atmosphere—gases that might be attributed to life.  Professor Seager is involved with a number of space-based exoplanet searches; she is the deputy science director for the MIT-led NASA mission TESS, the PI for the on orbit JPL/MIT CubeSat ASTERIA, and a lead for Starshade Rendezvous Mission (a space-based direct imaging exoplanet discovery concept under technology development). Among other accolades, Professor Seager is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a 2013 MacArthur Fellow. Asteroid 9729 Seager is named in her honor.

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.

Yonatan Winetraub is co-founder of SpaceIL, a $100M Israeli non-profit organization that is attempting to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon next month. A key goal of this mission is to inspire the next generation of space researchers and to promote education and scientific exploration.  To date, SpaceIL has reached over 1M children. Yonatan is currently a PhD candidate at Stanford in biophysics, studying a method to interpret and intercept cancer cell communication.

Space Industry Talk

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Mandy Vaughn is the president of VOX Space. Mandy originally joined Virgin Orbit, VOX Space’s parent company, in 2015. As senior director of business development and mission management, she supported business development on the LauncherOne program for both government and commercial customers, and served as mission manager for customers including OneWeb and NASA, in addition to spearheading the creation and registration of VOX Space. Mandy was also selected to serve on the National Space Council’s Users Advisory Group, where she helps to streamline coordination and cooperation across the US space enterprise. Prior to joining Virgin Orbit, Mandy was with general dynamics mission systems’ space and intelligence systems directorate, where she was responsible for the space control, space protection investment portfolios, and analog-to-digital transitions for a variety of SIGINT payload families. Mandy has a BS in mechanical engineering and an MS in aeronautics and astronautics, both from MIT.

Space and the Arts Panel

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Eva Díaz is associate professor of the History of Art and Design at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Her book, The Experimenters: Chance and Design at Black Mountain College, was released by the University of Chicago Press in 2015. Her writing has appeared in magazines and journals such as Aperture, The Art BulletinArtforumArt Journal, Art in America, Cabinet, Frieze, Grey Room, Texte zur Kunst, Harvard Design Magazine, and October. Díaz has recently completed the manuscript of her new book After Spaceship Earth, analyzing the influence of R. Buckminster Fuller in contemporary art, a project supported by the Graham Foundation and a Warhol Foundation/Creative Capital Art Writers Grant. Recent sections of the project have been published in New Left Review, Aperture, e-flux journal, and Texte zur Kunst, taking up artists’ challenges to a privatized and highly-surveilled future in outer space, and how the space “race” and colonization can be reformulated as powerful means to readdress economic, gender, and racial inequality, as well as ecological injustices.

Laurie Anderson is one of America’s most renowned—and daring—creative pioneers. She is best known for her multimedia presentations and innovative use of technology. As writer, director, visual artist, and vocalist, she has created groundbreaking works that span the worlds of art, theater, and experimental music. Her recording career, launched by “O Superman” in 1981, includes the soundtrack to her feature film Home of the Brave and studio album "Life on a String" (2001). Anderson's live shows range from simple spoken word to elaborate multi-media stage performances such as “Songs and Stories for Moby Dick” (1999). Anderson has published seven books, and her visual work has been presented in major museums around the world. In February of 2018,  “Landfall,” a collaboration between Anderson and Kronos Quartet, was released through Nonesuch Records.  Commissioned by Kronos Quartet in 2013, the work  was inspired by  the devastating effects of hurricane Sandy.  Also in February, Rizzoli released All The Things I Lost In The Flood, a book of images and a series of essays about pictures, language, and codes.

Agnes Meyer-Brandis studied mineralogy for a year, then transferred to the Art Academy in Maastricht, the Düsseldorf Art Academy, and the Cologne Media Art Academy. She comes from a background of both sculpture and new media art. Her work, exhibited worldwide and awarded, is exploring the zone between fact and fiction—an artistic research on the quest for a degree of reality within constructions. Meyer-Brandis had exhibitions at Centre Pompidou Paris, FR/Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof - Museum for Contemporary Art Berlin, DE/HeK, House of Electronic Arts Basel, CH/National Gallery of Denmark SMK, Copenhagen, DK/National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, TWN/FACT, Liverpool, UK/apexart, New York City, NY, US/Daejeon Museum of Art, Daejeon, KOR/ZKM | Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie, Karlsruhe, DE/The Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, DE/Ars Electronica, Linz, AT/Oxo Tower, Bargehouse, London, UK, amongst others.

Tomás Saraceno’s oeuvre could be seen as an ongoing research, informed by the worlds of art, architecture, biology, astrophysics, and engineering; his floating sculptures, community projects, and interactive installations propose and explore new, sustainable ways of inhabiting and sensing the environment. In 2009, Saraceno attended the International Space Studies Program at NASA Ames. That same year he presented a major installation at the 53rd Venice Biennale, and was later awarded the prestigious Calder Prize. He has held residencies at Centre National d’Études Spatiales (2014–2015), MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (2012–ongoing), and Atelier Calder (2010), among others. His work has been widely exhibited internationally in solo and group exhibitions, and is included in the collections of MoMA, New York; SFMOMA, San Francisco; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Berlin; among others. Saraceno lives and works in and beyond planet Earth.

Josh Simpson is a western Massachusetts glass artist whose work includes vibrantly colored sculptural pieces often inspired by scientific, astrophysical, or cosmological themes. His work has been displayed in the White House and numerous international museums. His glass is currently on exhibit in the permanent collection of the Corning Museum of Glass, the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Museum, and the Yale University Art Museum. Simpson has spent nearly half a century inventing new formulas and making glass objects that combine his fascination with color, form, pattern, and complexity with his interest in the workings of the universe. His iconic "Planets" evoke imaginary worlds that might exist in distant, undiscovered galaxies. His signature New Mexico glass resembles the night sky, while experimental Corona glass evokes energetic space phenomena captured in Hubble Telescope imagery.

 Space Industry Talk

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Jeffrey Manber has served as the CEO of NanoRacks since 2009, growing the company into the world’s leading commercial space station company with customers in over 30 nations. He brings unique experience to the company in making space just another place to do business. Before NanoRacks, Jeffrey helped establish the Office of Space Commerce with the Reagan Administration’s Department of Commerce, serving as a voice for private industry in space.  Afterwards he became the only American to officially work for the Russian space program, serving as managing director of Energia USA. Under Jeffrey’s leadership, NanoRacks was a pioneer, and now the leader, in the commercial market for low-Earth orbit utilization. For the future, Jeffrey is increasingly focused on populating the solar system with commercial space station platforms, owned and operated by NanoRacks.

Life in Space Panel

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Sunanda Sharma is a research assistant and doctoral student in the Mediated Matter group. Sunanda focuses on designing the organism-environment relationship across scales and contexts. Her goal is to explore the capabilities of visualization and imaging tools such as light microscopes for understanding interactions between living organisms and their dynamic micro-environments. Visual information can be mapped across space and time and may be used to inform design approaches for products and architectures. Sunanda is especially interested in applying her research to study questions about the origin of life, definition and evolution of life, and life in extreme environments. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology and concentration in psychology from MIT in 2014, and a master’s degree in media arts and sciences in 2016.

Paul Horowitz is an emeritus professor of physics and of EE at Harvard, where he arrived as an impressionable freshman some fifty seven years ago and, well, just never left. He loves electronic circuit design, and his research (pandering to his love of circuits) has been unconventional—do radio pulsars have visible counterparts? Do they wobble, or quake? Do e.coli have cogs in their rotary engines? Do cuttings of Napoleon's hair demonstrate arsenic poising? Do recordings of the police radio, made in Dallas on a certain day in November 1963, capture the blasts of a second gunman's shots? Do samples of ordinary stuff contain a few atoms weighing a million times normal? Are there radio signals, or laser flashes, reaching Earth from extraterrestrial civilizations? These latter questions—SETI—are his main obsessions these days (along with finishing, with co-author Hill, a sequel to The Art of Electronics).

Julie Huber, PhD, is an oceanographer broadly interested in how basic Earth processes interact to create and maintain life in our ocean. Her research addresses some of the most central questions about the nature and extent of microbial life on Earth in one of its least explored corners, the sub-seafloor habitat beneath the ocean floor. A 2007 NASA Astrobiology Institute postdoctoral fellow, she has also received the L’Oréal USA for Women in Science fellowship. Beyond her duties as an associate scientist in marine chemistry and geochemistry at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Julie also serves as the associate director of the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations, whose mission is to explore life beneath the seafloor and make transformative discoveries that advance science, benefit society, and inform and inspire the public.

Dr. Lynn Rothschild is passionate about the origin and evolution of life on Earth or elsewhere, while at the same time pioneering the use of synthetic biology to enable space exploration.  Her research has focused on how life, particularly microbes, has evolved in the context of the physical environment, both here and potentially elsewhere. More recently Rothschild has brought her creativity to the burgeoning field of synthetic biology, articulating a vision for the future of synthetic biology as an enabling technology for NASA’s missions, including human space exploration and astrobiology. In addition to creating this program, she has represented NASA on two OSTP National Science and Technology Council working groups on synthetic biology. She is a senior scientist NASA’s Ames Research Center, as well as adjunct professor at Brown University in molecular, cell and biochemistry.

Max Tegmark is a professor doing physics and AI research at MIT, and advocates for positive use of technology as president of the Future of Life Institute. He is the author of over 250 publications as well as the New York Times bestsellers Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence and Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. His work with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey on galaxy clustering shared the first prize in Science magazine’s “Breakthrough of the Year: 2003.” 

Workshops

1 . Creative Movement in Zero G

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Adam Dipert is a physicist, circus performer, and dancer. He will be defending his PhD in experimental nuclear physics on April 8, 2019. His research has been executed at Arizona State, North Carolina State, Duke University, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. His circus career has spanned 18 years and hundreds of performances. His unique areas of interest have resulted in working on the future of human body movement in microgravity.  To develop the physical and mental skills needed for effective choreography in weightlessness, he has written computer programs to simulate the dynamics of the human body in microgravity and used them successfully for planning two zero g flights. Additionally, Adam is the founder of the emerging zero g movement arts company, Giant Leap Dance.

Kitsou Dubois, choreographer and researcher in dance, became the first artist to experience weightlessness in parabolic flight with the French Space Agency (CNES) in 1990. Since then, Kitsou has flown on a series of 21 parabolic flights. In her creations, from stage choreographies to video installations or hybrid productions, Kitsou uses her experience and knowledge of weightlessness to explore movement, perception of the environment, and the sensation of time, the relation to matter, the relation to others, and the poetry of an environment where all familiar references seem to have been transformed. She works with performers (dancers and acrobats) in environments where the sensation of gravity has been altered: in water, in parabolic flights, in virtual reality set-ups, and also works with researchers in neurosciences, physiology, and technology. In her artistic approach, she works, from the dance gesture perspective, on the legibility of another space-time, “nor heavy, nor light.”

Daniel Visan Levine imagines a world where our interactions with technology are handled as if between friendly creatures; one in which we mutually respect all kinds of matter. He aims to create imaginative technologies for meaningful impact and enjoys helping people experience life through unconventional perspectives. His past work primarily spans the domains of applied synthetic biology, biomimetic actuation, rehabilitative exoskeletons, and tongue-based interaction design. He holds bachelors degrees in mechanical engineering and computer science from Cornell University, and a masters degree from Cornell Tech’s Connective Media program in New York City.

2. Design Your Space Future

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Sands Fish is an artist and researcher at the MIT Media Lab's Civic Media group. His work falls between activism, computer science, ethnography, and design. Sands is interested in the unconsidered yet consequential assumptions embedded in objects—design for babies, for exorcisms, and for the police. His current work uses speculative design to help communities imagine and advocate for more desirable futures. Previously, he was a data visualization fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and at MIT's HyperStudio. He also co-organizes Tech Poetics, a new media art community in Boston.

Lizbeth B. De La Torre is a research assistant and MS candidate in the Media Lab's Space Enabled group. With an 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.

3. Hyper-Abilities

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Avery Normandin is a second-year graduate student in the Sculpting Evolution group, where his work relates to CRISPR engineering, phage biology,  and generation of ecology-focused educational programs. Aside from this, his interests relate to ecoimmunology, STEM engagement and outreach, and playing the violin. 

Chille Bergstrom began studying aerospace engineering at age eight through MIT and was named ‘Space Futurist’ at age 10 by MIT’s Media Lab; eleven year old Chille has worked with NASA and Boeing and currently is part of the Space Exploration Initiative at MIT’s Media Lab. 

4. Native Space Farer, Part II

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Dr. Kaitlyn Sadtler is a postdoctoral fellow in the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research of MIT. During her time at MIT she received an NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Fellowship for her work on immunoengineering in the context of soft tissue trauma, named a TED Fellow whose TED talk was listed as one of the top 25 most viewed in 2018 (go.ted.com/kaitlynsadtler), and recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in science for 2019. Prior to MIT, Dr. Sadtler completed her PhD at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where her work was published in journals such as Science and Nature Methods, among others. Dr. Sadtler received her BS summa cum laude from University of Maryland Baltimore County prior to a post-baccalaureate IRTA at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious disease in the Lab of Cellular and Molecular Immunology.

Liz George has spent her entire adult life building instruments to study the universe. Liz believes that the future of space science lies in strong, open international collaboration. On the scale of the galaxy, we all come from planet Earth. Starting in 2017, Liz has worked as a detector engineer at the European Southern Observatory near Munich, Germany, developing optical and infrared detector systems for the Extremely Large Telescope. Since 2008, she has worked with international teams to develop astronomical instruments and deployed them at remote telescope sites around the world. In the course of her work, she has spent months at a time living at the South Pole station and Paranal Observatory in the Atacama desert. Recently she has been using large, publicly available datasets to gain insight into instruments astronomers from around the world use.

Szyf is a professor of pharmacology and held a Glaxo Smith Kline and James McGill Chair in Pharmacology at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. Szyf has pioneered research in DNA methylation for the last three decades; his interests span a broad spectrum from basic mechanisms to cancer diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as behavior, chronic pain, and addiction. Szyf pioneered epigenetic pharmacology in cancer and as well as the field of behavioral epigenetics. Szyf's studies provide a molecular link between environment and genes, between nurture and nature that had a wide impact on the social sciences and psychiatry.

5. Open Access Space

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Andre Url is a PhD candidate at the department of Visual and Environmental Studies, with a secondary field in Science, Technology and Society. His doctoral research explores the concept of participatory design and its relevance for the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence. Further academic interests include system dynamics, hyperobjects, and environmental philosophy.

Dan Fries is currently a PhD candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology in the aerospace department and the deputy director of the technical committee at the Initiative for Interstellar Studies (i4is). He believes that opening space exploration and utilization to a broader audience, as well as the technological, economic, and societal implications, are some of the most important topics in the development of our species. I4is is working towards this goal through a citizen science approach bringing together interested individuals from all over the globe, university research groups, and professional organizations to work on innovative and far reaching space exploration topics.

Rachel Lyons is a key advocate in the advancement of space technology and exploration. Rachel is the executive director of Space for Humanity, a nonprofit working to expand the global perspective by sponsoring non-astronauts to fly to space commercially. She is the former vice chair of the Board of Directors of Students for the Exploration and Development of Space–USA, a nonprofit that empowers young people to make an impact in space exploration. She holds a BSc in aerospace engineering and economics. Astronauts return from space with a new understanding of life on earth—from the environment, to politics, to humanitarian issues. Rachel believes these perspectives are essential in addressing the challenges we are facing on a planetary scale. Rachel is committed to providing opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to get involved in space—both for the future of humanity, and our world today.

Pierros Papadeas is a founding and board member of LSF, serving as the director of operations. He has over 10 years of experience as a project manager in global open source projects, ranging from libre software projects to open hardware initiatives. He worked for nine years as a program manager, engineering manager, and strategist in Mozilla Foundation on Community Development, Open Innovation, and Participation teams. He co-founded hackerspace.gr in 2011 (first and most active hackerspace in Greece). He has been a speaker and instructor in over 100 events in more than 30 countries around the world, mainly on open source participation, management, and community themes. In 2016 he oversaw the successful delivery of UPSat (the first open source software and hardware satellite) as a project manager for LSF. He is an active amateur astronomer focusing on optical observations and orbit determination of artificial satellites.

Mads Stenfatt has been a member of Copenhagen Suborbitals since 2011 and is leading the development of the parachute system that will bring the space capsule through the atmosphere to a safe landing in the Baltic Sea. Mads is also one of the three astronaut candidates who aspire to be the first person to go to space in a home-built space capsule.

6. Space Architecture

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Valentina Sumini is a Postdoctoral Associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at Media Lab in Responsive Environments Group, investigating human space exploration in terms of design, architecture, In Situ Resources Utilization and soft-robotics for sustaining astronaut everyday life in space. Over the last years, she has been a Postdoctoral researcher also at MIT Media Lab in Tangible Media Group and at MIT in Digital Structures Research Group (Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering) studying new computational design methods for multi-objective optimization and form-finding strategies of deep space exploration habitats in Low Earth Orbit, Moon and Mars. Her research has been applied to different award winning projects and scenarios like a city on Mars of 10,000 people, a modular LEO Space Hotel and a scientific base on the Moon, offering new ways to support future space exploration.

Daniel Inocente is an American designer based in New York City working as a senior designer with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. His work revolves around developing design methodologies which leverage computational techniques for performance driven design, enclosure systems, discrete geometrical optimization, and interdisciplinary research. His primary interests in the future of architecture and design stem from having worked directly with some of the most innovative teams on producing unique processes for creative and complex architectural systems. His cumulative professional experience includes working with Gehry Partners LLP, NASA, Gehry Technologies, HKS LINE, and he is now charged with leading computational design efforts at SOM, New York.

Georgi Petrov is practicing architect and structural engineer. He is an Associate Director at the New York office of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, where he works on highrises, 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.

Melodie Yashar is an architect and designer committed to investigating the relationship of material fabrication, building technology, and interaction design. Melodie received a bachelors in industrial design from Art Center College of Design, a MArch degree from Columbia University GSAPP, and is currently pursuing a masters in Human-Computer Interaction at CMU. Melodie is co-founder and member of SEArch+ (Space Exploration Architecture), a group which famously won NASA’s Phase I 3D-Printed Habitat Competition, and has since been collaborating with a group of researchers at NASA Langley to realize a sub-scale demo for a future Martian ice habitat.

7.  Martian Biomanufacturing

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Shannon Nangle is a postdoctoral fellow in Pam Silver’s group at Harvard. She received her PhD in 2015 from the University of Washington for her work on structure biology in Ning Zheng’s group. Her current focus is on the optimization a chassis organism that uses CO2 as its sole carbon and H2  as its energy source. She primarily uses metabolic engineering to produce bioplastics, biofuels, feedstocks for heterotrophic microbes, and fertilizers—all with water and CO2 as the primary inputs. Her prime directive is to use synthetic biology to address the challenges of ISRU to promote a permanent human presence beyond Earth.

J.J. Hastings is a bio-hacker, artist, and researcher, fusing and folding together the fields of biology (tissue engineering, genomics), informatics (machine learning), and new media art. She is alumna of New York University, Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and Central Saint Martins with advanced degrees in biology, fine art, and bioinformatics. J.J.’s career in scientific research spans over a decade and is rooted in her longstanding identity as a bio-hacker. Her artwork has been exhibited across Europe, India, Asia, North America, and Australia. She teaches an array of subjects in science, design, and art at RMIT and the University of Melbourne.

8. Space Food

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Maggie Coblentz is an interdisciplinary designer creating the future of food. She makes speculative designs and culinary experiences that anticipate future global demands and promote unforeseen artifacts and foodways. Maggie's ongoing work as a research affiliate with MIT Media Lab’s Space Exploration Initiative focuses on food and human interactions in outer space.

Emilie Baltz uses food and the senses to create new experiences that foster wonder, curiosity, and delight. She is an award-winning author and public speaker with appearances at TEDx, DLD, PSFK Conference, Ignite Conference, Creative Mornings, TODAY Show, NBC, Wall Street Journal, D-CRIT, and more. Emilie is based in New York City and works out of the New Lab for emerging technologies. She is a founding member of NEW INC, the first museum-led incubator hosted at the New Museum; she is also part of the founding faculty of the School of Visual Arts Products of Design MFA program, as well as the founder of the Food Design Studio at Pratt Institute.

9. Zero-G-ames

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Dan Novy (also known as NovySan) is a PhD student at the MIT Media Lab, where he works to decrease the alienation fostered by traditional passive media consumption; increase social interaction through transparent, interconnected, and fluid media; and create enriched, active, and inspired immediate experiences. He is an Emmy- and Visual Effects Society Award-winning VFX technical supervisor, transmedia experience designer, and artist.  At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he received a BFA in theatre and an MA in theatre history, with a double emphasis in the technical history of the theatre and shamanic ritual performance in pre-agrarian societies. He is the former chair of the Visual Effects Society's Technology Committee, former visiting scientist at Magic Leap, and co-instructor of the Media Lab's "Science Fiction-Inspired Prototyping" and "Indistinguishable From Magic" classes.

Sam Liberty is a designer obsessed with how games make meaning. He was senior game designer at the Engagement Lab at Emerson College, where he designed impactful games for organizations at the highest levels of government and civil society. He has created and run workshops on games for real world impact for organizations like the United Nations Development Programme and the MIT Media Lab. As a consultant, he’s designed games for clients such as the US Department of Defense and MIT Lincoln Labs.

Plenary keynote

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Janna Levin is the director of sciences and chair of the science studios at Pioneer Works. She is also the Claire Tow Professor of physics and astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. A Guggenheim Fellow, Janna has contributed to an understanding of black holes, the cosmology of extra dimensions, and gravitational waves in the shape of spacetime. She is the presenter of the NOVA feature Black Hole Apocalypse, aired on PBS—the first female presenter for NOVA in 35 years. Her previous books include How the Universe Got Its Spots and a novel, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines, which won the PEN/Bingham Prize among other awards. Her latest book, Black Hole Blues and Other Songs from Outer Space, is the inside story of the discovery of the century: the sound of spacetime ringing from the collision of two black holes over a billion years ago.

Event finale: Astronaut augury

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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.

Nikolay Chub has been a certified Russian cosmonaut with the Russian State Space Corporation ROSCOSMOS since 2012. His areas of expertise include control systems; spacecraft design, integration, and testing; industrial and space robotics; and artificial intelligence. Nikolay is currently serving as the director of operations Houston, representing Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Leland Melvin’s first NASA job was as an engineer at Langley Research Center, where he focused on nondestructive testing, creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles. He joined NASA’s astronaut training program in 1998, but an underwater training incident made him deaf, disqualifying him from space flight. His hearing improved over the years and, after he was medically cleared, Melvin logged over 565 hours aboard the shuttle Atlantis in 2008 and 2009. He was appointed head of NASA Education in 2010 and served as co-chair of a White House task force—Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education—developing the nation’s five-year STEM education plan. Melvin was also the US representative and chair of the International Space Education Board. He has a BSc in chemistry and a master’s in materials science engineering, as well as five honorary doctorates for his service in education, the sciences, and philanthropy.

Nicole Stott has explored from the heights of outer space to the depths of our oceans, and believes that sharing these perspectives has the power to increase everyone’s appreciation of and obligation to our home planet and each other. A veteran astronaut with two spaceflights and 104 days living and working in space on both the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station (ISS), she is also a NASA aquanaut who, in preparation for spaceflight, lived and worked along with her NEEMO9 crew during an 18-day saturation mission—the longest to date—on the Aquarius undersea habitat. A personal highlight of Nicole’s spaceflight was painting the first watercolor in space. She now combines her artwork and spaceflight experience to inspire creative thinking about solutions to our planetary challenges, raise awareness of the surprising interplay between science and art, and promote the amazing work being done every day in space to improve life right here on Earth.

Closing remarks

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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 coordinates 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, Ars Technica, Ars Electronica, MIT Technology Review, Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, PRI’s ScienceFriday, and more.

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