Current Graduate Students

James Alver

JAMES ALVER is a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from Harvard College in 2015, concentrating in Government with a secondary in Earth and Planetary Sciences. James has experience in space policy through work at the National Academy of Sciences, the Aerospace Industries Association, and International Technology and Trade Associates, where he participated in projects related to CubeSat policy, Earth observations, national security space, space technology, and other topics. His primary policy interests relate to non-government activity beyond Earth orbit and the role of governments in regulating and enabling such activities.


Aimee Barreto

AIMEE BARRETO is a second-year graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree at the Space Policy Institute. Most recently, Aimee managed the government contractor workforce in the Code 541 Materials Engineering Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD. She has held diverse positions in Task Management, Business Development, Procurement, Quality Assurance, and Human Resources Management working for various government contractors supporting NASA GSFC. Aimee holds a Master of Science in Government Contracts from the George Washington University, a Master of Business Administration from Syracuse University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Syracuse University. Her interests include financial management, U.S. space policy, project management, and technology transfer/export control issues. Her research interests are focused on trending topics: civil and commercial space partnerships, military space weapons, and international space competitiveness.


Jake Cooper

JAKE COOPER is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Jake holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Humboldt State University in Northern California, where he studied space policy, space exploration, and diplomacy. During Jake’s final semester he interned at the local office of a California State Senator, a role in which he focused on a range of constituent affairs. Jake’s research and policy interests include space exploration, resource extraction, development, and diplomacy.

 


FayeCHEIKH FAYE is a first-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, new space technologies and export control issues, as well as the economic impact of space programs for developing countries. In his free time he likes to play soccer, read history books, and watch TV.


Drew Garza

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.


MARISSA HERRON is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Most recently, Marissa managed the Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis Operations (CARA) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She previously supported human spaceflight operations for the Space Shuttle and Soyuz missions at NASA's Johnson Space Center. 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.


Cody KnipferCODY KNIPFER is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from McDaniel College in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and International Affairs, where he focused on Asia-Pacific affairs and on the domestic and international politics of space. He has experience working with several aerospace trade associations including the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, Aerospace Industries Association, and at a space and technology policy consultancy. Cody has also volunteered with a number of space non-profits, such as the Space Frontier Foundation and the Space Generation Advisory Council. His research and policy interests include public-private partnerships in the space industry, the evolution of national security space applications, and the use of space activities as an element of geopolitical strategy. 


KnittelKommelRENATA KNITTEL KOMMEL is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She graduated from PUC University of São Paulo in Brazil with a Bachelor of Arts in International Affairs. She held an internship with the Brazilian Mission to the United Nations and represented a Brazilian NGO at COP21 in Paris. She is interested in space policy, as well as its intersection with environmental policy, particularly in the ways in which satellites are being used to monitor climate change indicators.

 

 


KushanMOHAMMAD KUSHAN is a first-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 Ocean Air Traffic Controllor and more recently in Air Traffic Procedures. Currently, he works on procedures for integrating commercial space operations into the national airspace system. He enjoys playing basketball in his free time.

 


ManiscalcoETHAN MANISCALCO is a first-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 MayCHRISTOPHER 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.


MazzottaGWEN MAZZOTTA is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute, where she also works as the SPI Staff Assistant. Gwen graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Commercial Space Operations from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2015. Previously, she has interned at the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation in the Space Transportation Development Division (AST-100) and at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs (CPLA) Section during the Committee On the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) cycle in 2016.

 


O'DonnellJOHN O'DONNELL is a first-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).

 


Rowley

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.

 

PeterASHLEY PETER is a first-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. Since then, she has worked at Booz Allen Hamilton and currently supports NASA Headquarters in D.C. with its three deep space human exploration programs: Space Launch System (SLS), Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems.

 

 


Puig-HallMACKENZIE PUIG-HALL is a first-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 graduation, 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.


RiesbeckLUC HARPER RIESBECK is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. They graduated in May 2018 from NYU Shanghai with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences: International Relations Track, with a minor in Global Chinese Studies. During their undergraduate career, their research concentrated in intergovernmental science and technological development, diplomacy, and investment, completing a Senior Capstone on China's growing diplomatic and political influence in aerospace titled "China's Space Program: An Emergent Player in a Global Cooperative Sphere". They also served as a Policy Intern at NASA Headquarters' Office of International and Interagency Relations in 2017. This past summer, they were based at Space Angels in New York City as a Policy Analyst and resident Brooke Owens Fellow. Luc fosters a targeted professional interest in improving US-Chinese diplomatic relations in aerosapce and laying the regulatory foundations for the intergovernmental and public-private partnerships that will enable the first human crewed missions to Mars. Luc is also engaged in conversations about social and economic injustics in the US and China. Their writing and activism in this area has included commentary on topics such as LGBTQ+ activism, the oppression and surveillance of the Uyghur muslim population in Xinjiang, the Black Lives Matter and antifascist movements, and online harassment of journalists.


Rowley

JOHN ROWLEY is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Mary Washington. In the spring of 2016, John presented his research on NASA funding at the Economic Scholars Program Undergraduate Research Conference in Dallas, TX. Upon graduation, he was presented the Henry W. Hewetson Award for outstanding graduating economics major. He is interested in the commercialization and funding of space programs. 


Sam

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.

 


Van SteenburgROBBIE 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.

 


Takuya

TAKUYA WAKIMOTO is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. His undergraduate degree, awarded by Kwansei Gakuin University (Japan), was in International Development, where he gained exposure to international affairs, politics, economics, and technology. He then worked in the aero-engine division at IHI Corporation to learn how defense policies affect the manufacturer. After four years of professional experience, Takuya is now focusing his studies on space, security and defense policy.

 


AnnaANNA WIEGER is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Her interests lie in how present international space policy will shape future settlements in outer space. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Biola University where she was enrolled at the Torrey Honors Institute. She received her Bachelor of Science in Studio Arts and a Minor in Mathematics. Anna grew up in Turkey where her interest in the future impact of international policies was kindled by the way that old treaties still impact Turkey’s politics. Anna spent two years as an AmeriCorps member working in disaster relief and preparedness at the American Red Cross in Oakland, CA. She continues to volunteer at the Red Cross.


Claire

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.