Current Graduate Students

BLAKE AHADI is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Michigan (2017), and a graduate certificate in Space Resources from the Colorado School of Mines (2020). He has previous experience as a private banking analyst at J.P. Morgan, and an asset manager at Invenergy, a private renewable energy developer & operator based in Chicago. Blake currently works as an analyst at Bryce Space & Technology, supporting their commercial space division with efforts in market forecasting and business consulting. In his spare time, Blake enjoys running, playing tennis, and watching Family Feud.

AMANDA ARENA is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2018 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in History. After graduation, she joined The Aerospace Corporation, where she works on a variety of projects for NASA and the Air Force. She has always been interested in the intersection of geopolitics, economics, and space policy, including the impact commercial space companies have had on US and international policy.

KRISTI BRADFORD is a second-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. 

STEPHANIE DELPOZZO is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Before attending George Washington University, Ms. DelPozzo held a position as an Economic Analyst at SpaceWorks Enterprises Inc. in Atlanta, GA. Her background includes publishing the Nano/Microsatellite Market Forecast, creating independent cost estimates for NASA’s Artemis Program, assessing the future LEO economy under NASA’s Commercialization of LEO program, and serving as the model-development lead for a custom tool analyzing cost-impacts of additively manufactured rocket engines. Stephanie holds Bachelor’s degrees in Economics and Political Science from Florida State University. While pursuing her undergraduate studies, she interned at the Florida State Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. Ms. DelPozzo intends to unite her background in economics and public policy to help shape the future of commercial space policy in both the private and public sectors.

RYAN FIELDER is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering in 2018. After graduation, he joined Booz Allen Hamilton as a systems engineer where he is currently supporting NASA’s Human Space Flight team in managing the integration of network resources that provide tracking data acquisition and communications services for Human Space Flight missions, including the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) and the Commercial Resupply Service (CRS) missions which relay with the International Space Station, as well as the Artemis missions tasked with returning astronauts to the moon.

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 second-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.

MICHAEL HICKS is a first year master’s student in the Space Policy Institute.  He graduated from Indiana University – Purdue University of Indianapolis (IUPUI) with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts & Science in 2013.  Following his undergraduate education, Michael took on roles in management and IT. He continues this work today at the George Washington University as a tech support specialist with GW IT.  Michael is looking forward to melding his interests in technology and space by pursuing the M.A. in International Science and Technology Policy at The Elliott School, and looks forward to taking advantage of the incredible opportunities The Elliott School, GW, and the Space Policy Institute offer. In particular, he plans to pursue a career as a policy analyst, working to tackle the increasing challenges of developing thoughtful, dynamic, and effective space policy. His research interests include the emerging policy surrounding the privatization of space travel, and the growing problem of space debris as well as its remediation.

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. 

JOSHUA INGERSOLL is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He recently graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering (2019) where he also holds a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering (2018). Josh is currently working as a Spacecraft Systems Engineer at The Aerospace Corporation in Chantilly, VA where his work has him creating and evaluating conceptual designs for next generation space systems. Josh is also quite active in the Matthew Isakowitz Fellowship program in which he took part in 2019. The program matches upperclassmen undergraduate and graduate students with executive mentors and internships in the Commercial Space Industry. His research interests include policy surrounding the regulation and environmental impacts of satellite mega-constellations as well as interactions between US commercial entities and foreign governments. Josh is also pursuing an MBA through the George Washington School of Business concurrent with his Space Policy work. In his free time Josh sings baritone with the Fairfax Jubilaires and follows the Buffalo Bills religiously.

GEORGE VLADIMIR LEAUA is a second-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 interned in the policy department of the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD in Paris (2019) and is currently working as staff assistant for SPI. 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 second-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.

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.

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.

MATEJ SIGET is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He recently graduated from Saint-Petersburg State University, Russia with a Master’s degree in International Affairs, where he conducted innovative research on the connection of space diplomacy with the theory of smart power and focused on analyzing current approaches of European Union, Russia and India. At GW, he wishes to focus on the issue of weaponization and militatization of space, on space policies of EU and its cooperation with other space actors and on further development of the theory of contemporary space diplomacy.
Matej has experience with interning in the national parliament of Slovakia and in Slovak foreign service. In his spare time, Matej enjoys traveling and is a passionate fan of abstract art and jazz music.

BENJAMIN STAATS is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He holds a B.S. from James Madison University, an M.S. from Columbus State University, and an M.A. from the United States Air Force’s Air University. He is also a graduate of the Schriever Space Scholar program. He has been serving in the United States Army over the last fifteen years, the last four of which have been as a Space Operations Officer where he has experience with the tactical and operational utilization of space capabilities by the joint military force. His research interests range from the implications of space on national security to the topic of planetary defense. In his free time, Ben enjoys time with his family, rock climbing, and hiking.

TYLER WAY is a second-year graduate student studying space policy. He graduated in 2018 from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio with a BA in International Studies and Chinese Language. He is most interested in issues related to the proliferation of counterspace weapons, commercial remote sensing, and space debris. He has interned at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Aerospace Security Project where he worked on projects related to space programs in developing countries and co-authored the annual Space Threat Assessment for 2020. Previously, he interned at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies researching future commercial space regulatory issues. He is now interning with The Aerospace Corporation’s Center for Space Policy and Strategy working on policy and regulatory issues in Space Traffic Management and Active Debris Removal.

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.

YAOFU ZHOU is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from Illinois Institute of Technology, where he participated in particle physics experiments at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 2019 with his focus on the numerical simulations for the Large Hadron Collider experiments at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Prior to the graduate program at GWU, Yaofu was a visiting scholar at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, researching international collaboration of big-science projects. Yaofu is a space and aviation enthusiast. He holds a certificate of airplane private pilot and is under active training for instrument rating and commercial certificate. Upon entering the graduate program at GWU, Yaofu is joining the research group of Prof. Peng Wei from the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, which works on autonomy in Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and Traffic Management for Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UTM) with government and industrial partners.

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