Current Graduate Students

KRISTI BRADFORD is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She started her career researching and developing scientific instrumentation. Her work has been deployed to the South Pole, biomedical research labs, sub-orbital balloon trajectories, and Earth orbit. She has co-authored over a dozen publications on scientific measurement systems and received numerous awards for her work, including from the American Astronomical Society, Science Foundation Arizona, and Forbes Magazine. She holds a bachelor’s degree in astrophysics, earth and planetary science from Harvard University and a master’s degree in exploration systems design (systems engineering) from Arizona State University. She has worked full-time at Columbia University, Planetary Resources, and The Aerospace Corporation as well as conducted part-time research at NASA Ames, California Institute of Technology, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. She currently works as a Field Technology Architect at In-Q-Tel. Her policy research interests include space economics and the global space investment landscape, socio-technical systems engineering, and multi-lateral, public-private partnerships for space exploration and development. 

CHEIKH FAYE is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He recently graduated from the University of Georgia in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. He was a recipient of the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program (SLP), a yearlong program at the UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security which focused on national security, nonproliferation and international conflict management. Cheikh also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography from the Gaston Berger University in Senegal. He is interested in global space cooperation, emerging space technologies and export control, as well as the economic impact of space programs for developing countries. Cheikh is actually an International Trade Compliance Intern at OneWeb, a satellite company building the world’s first global communications network in space to deliver high-throughput, high-speed internet from space to  billions of people around the world. In his free time he likes playing soccer and visiting the numerous museums in Washington, DC. 

DREW GARZA is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He is a combat veteran with ten years of active duty with the U.S. Army, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as multiple tours around the world for disaster relief and mission support. He graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Space Studies from American Military University. In his time at GW, he hopes to focus his studies on international cooperative space policies that support United States defense and national security strategies. Drew currently works as a Program Manager for the Department of Defense, and he is also very active as a STEM advocate and volunteer, contributing time and expertise to the groups like the Planetary Society and Explore Mars, as well as providing community outreach efforts for the U.S. Science and Engineering Festival.

ROSS HATLEY is a first year master’s student at the Space Policy Institute. He completed his bachelor’s degree in Politics from Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan. Having written on the establishment of property rights in space, he is interested in the role of national governance apparatus in enabling the growing space economy. He has previously interned with the White House Domestic Policy Council working on aerospace innovation, and is currently interning at the Office of Space Commerce at the Department of Commerce.

MARISSA HERRON is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Marissa works at NASA Headquarters in the Science Mission Directorate. She previously managed the Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis Operations (CARA) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. At NASA’s Johnson Space Center, she supported human spaceflight operations for the Space Shuttle and Soyuz missions. Marissa holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Arizona, a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a Master of Science in Remote Sensing from the Naval Postgraduate School. 

RENATA KNITTEL KOMMEL is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She graduated from PUC University of São Paulo in Brazil with a B.A. in International Affairs. She held internships with the Brazilian Mission to the United Nations and the Satellite Industry Association. Renata has also worked as a member of the Space Security Index international research team and has attended international space and environmental conferences at the United Nations, both as a government and civil society representative. Currently, she works as a Research Associate at LMI Advisors. She is interested in space policy, as well as its intersection with environmental policy, particularly the ways in which satellites are being used to monitor climate change indicators.

MOHAMMAD KUSHAN is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2008 with a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He has worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for over eight years as an Oceanic Air Traffic Controller and more recently in Air Traffic Procedures. Currently, he is developing procedures for integrating commercial space launch and reentry operations into the national airspace system. He enjoys playing basketball in his free time.

GEORGE VLADIMIR LEAUA is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He is recent graduate of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs (2018). His experience has been shaped by several internships on both the European and North American continents. He first interned at the Romanian Competition Council in the economic analysis department (2015), then he was a policy intern in the International Trade and Investment department of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris (2016). He volunteered for the Romanian Embassy in Washington, DC (2017) and took on a position of advisor at the Permanent Mission of Romania to the United Nations, focusing on disarmament, security, global politics and space affairs (2018). He also interned in the policy department of the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD in Paris (2019). Currently, his research interests include the ethics of space exploration and space commerce, space law, and international cooperation between European states and the United States on new emerging technologies.

DILLON MACINNIS is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Previously, he graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 2018 with degrees in political science and marketing. Dillon first discovered space policy through an internship in the private space industry, where he worked on government and commercial proposals to launch satellites and other payloads into space. Since then, he has remained in the private space industry, building his experience around market research and government affairs. As one might expect, Dillon’s research interests include the role of private actors in space policy and government applications of commercial space technology. Outside of work and studying, Dillon regularly visits the movie theater to keep up with the latest in film (especially anything to do with superheroes and science fiction) and climbs at Earth Treks in Crystal City.

ETHAN MANISCALCO is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He recently graduated Cum Laude from George Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs, concentrating on international economics and Mandarin Chinese. During his undergraduate studies, Ethan interned for both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his Congressman from Tennessee. His interests include Chinese space policy, the militarization of space, and space cybersecurity. In his free time, Ethan enjoys watching movies, reading, and improving his chess game.

CHRISTOPHER MAY is a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree at the Space Policy Institute. Chris holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology where he also obtained a Minor in International Affairs. His concentration during his Master’s in Aerospace Engineering was in Systems Engineering. Currently, Chris works at The Aerospace Corporation where he has contributed to projects for NASA, the Air Force, and other aerospace related customers. Throughout his life he has been interested in the intersection of science, history, and policy-making. His primary policy interests lay in human spaceflight, especially regarding international cooperation to pursue further solar system exploration.

GWEN MAZZOTTA is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Commercial Space Operations from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2015. Previously, she interned at the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation in the Space Transportation Development Division (AST-100), the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs Section, and Bryce Space and Technology. Currently, she works for SAIC, supporting the FAA Office of NextGen.

JOHN O’DONNELL is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. John is originally from the D.C. area and currently works on space policy at the Pentagon. He has previously worked at NASA, has been in the Air Reserves for ten years, and was in the Army National Guard before then. John holds a Master’s degree in Astronautical Engineering from the University of Maryland, and a Master of International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

CREEL O’NEIL is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from Miami of Ohio in 2009 with dual Bachelor of Art degrees in Political Science and Music. Creel then spent four years in the Army supporting special operations elements through multiple tours in Afghanistan. Afterward, he held a number of positions in support of the Department of Defense and U.S. space policy issues. Creel intends to focus his studies on space and nuclear security policy.

ASHLEY PETER is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She graduated from MIT with a Bachelor of Science in Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences and Management Science in 2015. After graduation, she joined Booz Allen Hamilton as a consultant where she supported NASA’s deep space human exploration programs – the Space Launch System (SLS), Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems – as part of the Artemis missions. She recently joined NASA Headquarters in the Programmatic & Strategic Integration office of the Exploration Systems Development division.

MACKENZIE PUIG-HALL is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She is most interested in topics relating to international collaboration in space. She graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. During her time at UCI, she participated in the first and second SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competitions. After graduateion, Mackenzie joined The Aerospace Corporation’s Innovation Lab in El Segundo, CA where she focused on fostering innovation and collaboration in the space industry. During her graduate studies at GWU, she will continue to work with The Aerospace Corporation at their Crystal City and Chantilly offices.

LUC HARPER RIESBECK is a second-year Master’s candidate at the Space Policy Institute. They received their bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences with a minor in Global China Studies from New York University Shanghai in 2018. Their area of research is in commercial space and space sustainability issues, including solutions for active debris removal, on-orbit satellite servicing, and other applications for advanced robotics for rendezvous and proximity operations in space. Luc held several apprenticeship positions while pursuing their studies, including at NASA Headquarters, Space Angels, Secure World Foundation, and Bryce Space and Technology. They currently serve as a Graduate Intern at the Center for Space Policy and Strategy within the Aerospace Corporation, as well as a consultant for Astroscale. In their spare time, Luc enjoys traveling and engaging in conversations on ethics and inclusion. 

SAM SR is a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in International Science and Technology Policy at the Elliott School. Sam received a Bachelor of Science in Applied Science and Technology from Carnegie Mellon University and intends to use his technical background to develop ways of helping public policy experts and engineers communicate more effectively. During his time as an undergraduate, Sam attended the University of California’s D.C. campus, where he worked for Congressman Jerrold Nadler in his Capitol Hill office as a legislative intern. He has also previously worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania as a legal intake intern.

GENTOKU TOYOMA is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from the University of Tokyo in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Oriental Studies. He worked for the Japanese Ministry of Defense and was involved in Defense Operation Coordination with the Okinawa Government and also with Earthquake Disaster. Currently, he works for the Defense Policy Division and response to North Korea’s provocative actions. He is interested in the U.S. space policy and Japan-U.S. alliance.

ROBBIE VAN STEENBURG is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He recently graduated from The University of Texas in 2018 with a Bachelor’s degree in Astronomy and a Minor in Government. Previously, Robbie spent time at the Texas Capitol working for a member of the Texas House of Representatives. He also has conducted research in multiple different fields including astronomy and political marketing. In his future endeavors, Robbie is interested in using his combined science and government background to help ensure that government policy reflects the needs of the scientific community.

TYLER WAY is a first year master’s student in the space policy institute. He completed his bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. His interests within space policy are how emerging economies utilize space and also examining the international space treaty regimes to adapt them for a future further reliant on space. He has previously interned with the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies working on Aerospace Security, and is currently interning at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Aerospace Security Project.

CLAIRE WILHELM is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from the George Washington University in 2014. During her time as an undergraduate at GW, she interned at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. There, she worked with the team responsible for the integration and testing of the onboard propulsion system of the Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft. After completing her undergraduate work, Claire worked in various academic and government positions. She currently works at DARPA, supporting the Tactical Technology Office.