Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme

The Emerging Space Leaders (ESL) Grant Programme enables each year 14 students and young professional between the age of 21 and 35 to participate in the International Astronautical Congress (IAC), as well as in the UN/IAF Workshop and the Space Generation Congress, both held the week prior to the Congress.

The IAF is proud to introduce the 2016 Emerging Space Leaders!

These 14 students and young professionals were chosen by the Emerging Space Leaders Steering Committee composed of six higly experienced space stakeholders. They will fly off to Guadalajara in September 2016 to participate in the IAC and have the opportunity to extend their network, gain knowledge and meet all the relevant people in space industry.

Mahesh ThakuriMahesh Thakuri


“I am Mahesh Thakuri, an amateur astronomer working as a communicator and popularizer of physics and astronomy in Nepal. I am a student of Master of Science in Physics with major Astrophysics at Tribhuvan University and freelance teacher of Physics and Mathematics. I am one of the founders of Pokhara Astronomical Society and currently working as its chairman. It is a nonprofit organization working in the field of astronomy and space science in Nepal. I have conducted many astronomy outreaches and given talks on the importance of science and astronomy to school students and general public. I coordinate and conduct workshops and trainings programs like Galileo Teacher Training Program (GTTP), Water Rocket Competition, Global Astronomical Month, Yuri’s Night Space Party, Solar Observation and Night Sky Observation. Similarly, we organize different kinds of webinar with renowned scientist from different parts of the world along with documentaries of space activities. I am now reaching thousands of students with different proceedings to popularize astronomy and space science generating interest for school students to pursue higher education in science. I frequently give talks, advocate and help different government and other organization to promote scientific programs to increase science literacy rate in our country. I have a dream of building an observatory and planetarium in Nepal for the possible research and science awareness. I believe it is the time for developing country to invest in the space sector for the better future of its economy. And international cooperation play crucial role in it.”

PhotoMarek Novak

Czech Republic

Marek Novák, 22 years old, is a student researcher and medical entrepreneur. He pursues a degree in electrical engineering at the Czech Technical University in Prague. He has been working for three years as medical hardware and software developer specialized in infant care devices development. In past, he got awarded by Intel, NASA and United Technologies for his design of non-distractive system for vital functions monitoring. Now he is working on wireless power transmission using microwaves. He works on development of tools for characterization of microwaves to DC converters which are the key component for space based solar power stations and RF harvesting systems in general. In 2015, following this research, he founded a medical hardware start-up called “X.GLU” which developed a battery-less glucose meter powered by RF field generated by smartphone.
In future, he plans to work on continuous vital function monitoring solution for crew isolation experiments to provide tools and data for enhancing current psychosocial analysis tools of crews. He believes that the affordability of space to everyone lies in multidisciplinary approach to effectively use the space research results on Earth on one side and by supporting and motivating the young generation into scientific and technical subjects on the other. To support the latter, he recently co-founded a non-profit organization which supports student research activities in his country.

MROMarta Rocha de Oliveira


Marta Rocha de Oliveira is an aerospace engineer dedicated to space exploration, currently working on the mission profile of a Venus mission proposal to ESA and developing a Venus cluster furnace at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center with the Solar System Exploration Division. Previously, she worked as a Horizon 2020 Space and Aeronautics National Contact Point for the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Education closely with the European Commission to vouch for national interests. Her selection to ESA’s Alpbach program allowed her to start working on orbital mechanics applications of genetic algorithms which was also the subject of her aerospace engineering master’s degree thesis supervised by IST Lisbon and Imperial College London. Additionally, she holds a bachelor’s degree in physics engineering from IST and is a laureate of the Concours Général des Lycées of the French Ministry of Education. She was awarded a full scholarship to participate in the International Space University Space Studies Program hosted by NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Ohio University where she was first introduced to Venus simulation chambers. Her goal is to find opportunities to continue to develop the Portuguese and Brazilian space networks and to raise awareness to the opportunities in space. Her hope is to significantly contribute in developing both countries’ capabilities in the space sector. Having had a multicultural education allowed her to develop her training in the space sector internationally and to become fluent in five languages. Her other interests include traveling, piloting and reading.

ishrajSinderjeet_ headshotShatirsingh (Ishraj) Inderjeet


Ishraj S. Inderjeet is a recent graduate in Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering with Honours from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) University in Melbourne, Australia.
During his studies, Ishraj led many aerospace organisations and activities. He executed roles such as President of the aerospace club at RMIT University, Victorian State Representative for the Australian Youth Aerospace Association, and chaired, in 2014 and 2015, the two most successful ‘Aerospace Industry Night’ conferences at RMIT University in 20 years. Ishraj is currently the Communications Manager at the Royal Aeronautical Society (Melbourne) and National Point of Contact (Mauritius) at the Space Generation Advisory Council – a United Nations Program on Space Applications.

For his contributions to the aerospace community, Ishraj achieved numerous awards: ‘NASA Space Apps 2014 – Galactic Problem Solver,’ ‘Boeing Prize 2012,’ amongst others. In 2013, Ishraj received the Australian Government’s ‘International Student Exchange Program’ scholarship to go on a one-year exchange program at Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in The Netherlands. Ishraj was one of four students in Australia to be awarded the ‘Northrop Grumman Global Externship Program 2014/15’ scholarship to do an internship at Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra, designing Australia’s next astronomy CubeSat mission. In 2016, Ishraj was the sole recipient of the ‘Sir Ross and Sir Keith Smith Fund’ full scholarship to attend the Southern Hemisphere – Space Studies Program by the International Space University (ISU) in Australia.
Ishraj is grateful to the International Astronautical Federation committee for selecting him as one of only 14 people worldwide to participate in the prestigious 2016 Emerging Space Leaders Grant Programme.

Oniosun Temidayo IsaiahOniosun Temidayo


Oniosun Temidayo Isaiah is in his final semester as an undergraduate student of Meteorology and Climate Science at the Federal University of Technology, Akure and the President of the University Space club under the University Centre for Space Research and Applications inaugurated by the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in English (ARCSSTEE). Over the past years, he has successfully led the Club in organizing Space Related Events and many Space Related Projects with wide media coverage. Being a lover of computer programs, he was instrumental in setting up a World Class Meteorological Station at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He is a web editor for SGAC and a member of the Youth for Global Navigation Satellite Systems (YGNSS) project group of the Space Generation Advisory Council of the United Nations. He was a volunteer coder for the AMADEE-15 Mars Simulation Mission by the Austria Space Forum where he assisted in the coding of the Spacesuit Helmet. He is a former intern at the Strategic Space Applications Division of the Nigerian National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA). He is passionate about Astrophysics and Satellite development and is currently in charge of organizing the first Asteroid Search campaign in West Africa, a collaboration between the Space Club of the Federal University of Technology, Akure and the International Astronomical Search Collaboration (IASC).

PhotoSinead O’Sullivan


Sinead O’Sullivan is a Sainsbury Management Fellow at the Harvard Business School. She is also the Co-Lead of the Space Generation Advisory Council’s “Space Technologies for Disaster Management” research group. In addition, she is the CEO of AviOptix, a drone based data collection and analysis services. Through AviOptix, Sinead is exploring the role of private-sector technologies for humanitarian disaster relief. She holds a Masters in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, USA and a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering from Queen’s University of Belfast, UK.

Jonathan KolbeckJonathan Kolbeck

Costa Rica

Jonathan Kolbeck is an aerospace engineer who is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at The George Washington University (GW) in Washington, DC. He holds a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering and a M.Sc. in Aerospace Engineering, both from the Technical University of Berlin, Germany. His main interest and current research field is electric propulsion, especially for miniaturized satellites such as CubeSats. His most recent project involves increasing the efficiency of the micro-cathode arc thruster (µCAT) developed at GW. He has two United States patent applications which focus on vacuum arc application and the µCAT. His third patent application was filed in Germany for a safe-and-arm device for university sounding rockets. Jonathan has presented at the International Electric Propulsion Conference in Kobe, Japan and at other various poster sessions in California and Washington, DC. He was part of the Alpbach Summer School organized by the European Space Agency in 2015, where he had the opportunity of leading his team in designing a mission to test the theory of general relativity in space using entangled photons. Jonathan is a space advocate, and with his research in the field of electric propulsion, he hopes to enable universities, developing countries, and smaller organizations to partake in the exploration of space.

Geraldo Salazar Diaz - PictureGeraldo Salazar Diaz


“I have been working in the past year in the Space Instrumentation Laboratory of the Electric Engineering Faculty, at the UNAM. There I studied the effects of the radiation in electronic components, especially in FPGAs SRAM, and the fault tolerance techniques that we can apply to reduce and mitigate these effects. In the laboratory it’s been developed a GMSK modulator described in VHDL language as a software radio and implemented in an Artix7 FPGA. This modulator is part of the downlink in a micro satellite carrying a HD camera for remote perception applications in a LEO orbit of 500 km, the main project of the laboratory. We propose the use of FPGAs COTS and the implementation of fault tolerance techniques over the use of military and hardened electronic space components, due to the first option is less expensive and the fact that we can achieve a level of trust good enough for electronic applications in low orbit satellite with the applications of fault tolerance techniques. My goal is to improve the communication system making it adaptive and intelligent, becoming a Cognitive Radio.  With that idea in mind, I have studied the different kinds of modulations available for space applications, and what parameters we can modify in our communication system that can improve our communication link for a certain characteristic of the channel.  My perspectives about this work are develop Cognitive Radio in a FPGA COTS, using software defined radio, and test the system in an operative satellite.”

Upasana DasguptaUpasana Dasgupta


Upasana Dasgupta is a lawyer, entitled to practice law in India. She has pursued Masters in Air and Space Law (Thesis) from McGill University, Montreal, Canada on Erin J.C. Arsenault Fellowship. She takes keen interest in space law and was awarded the Nicolas M. Matte Prize from McGill University for highest marks in “Space Law”. During her stint at McGill University, she also worked as a research assistant and researched on national space laws of space-faring nations on licensing of space launches and other space operations and on export control restrictions under national laws on launch of satellites. She was the advisor to the Indian Delegation to 38th International Civil Aviation Organisation Assembly held in 2013. At present, she works as an associate of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, one of the biggest law firms of India. She would be joining McGill University to pursue doctoral studies in Fall, 2016.

Tijesu OjumuTijesu Ojumu


Tijesu is a Geospatial analyst by discipline. He is a recent graduate of the Department of Remote Sensing and GIS from the Federal University Of Technology,Akure,Nigeria.
He is versatile in the applications of GIS in various fields as he has been able to partake in a couple of GIS based projects accross Nigeria. Tijesu is a motivated tech enthusiast who is also passionate about leveraging on technology to build a better world. He is presently working on a GIS-based project in his home community

M. Musilova_profile pic_croppedMichaela Musilova

Michaela Musilova is an astrobiologist with a research focus on life in extreme environments (extremophiles). Similar life could potentially be found on other planetary bodies, such as Mars, which is why extremophiles are very important for the search for extraterrestrial life. Michaela holds a PhD degree in physical geography, microbiology and astrobiology from the University of Bristol, UK. She studied at both University College London, UK and the California Institute of Technology, USA for her MSc degree in Planetary Science (completed with First Class Honours and a Dean of Science commendation). Michaela is also a graduate from the International Space University’s Space Studies Program (ISU SSP), 2015. Michaela’s astrobiology and space research experience includes: working on astrobiology and planetary protection research projects at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; simulating lunar and planetary surfaces through NASA’s and the UK Space Agency’s MoonLite project; searching for exoplanets at the University of London Observatory; and being an analogue astronaut at the Mars Desert Research Station, USA. She is currently the vice-chair of the Slovak Organisation for Space Activities (SOSA), a visiting lecturer for ISU SSP 2016 and the senior research advisor for Mission Control Space Services Inc.. Michaela returned to Slovakia to try to increase the number of space-related research/industry there, improve SOSA’s international collaborations and create a Slovak space research centre. She also enjoys participating in STEAM outreach activities from teaching at schools, giving public presentations, to working with the media and more, as well as encouraging people to pursue their dreams.

Manisha DwaManisha Dwa


Manisha Dwa, Project Coordinator and one of the Board of Directors at Nepal Astronomical Society- NASO is responsible for design/developing and test different outreach and educational and research activities on astronomy/astrophysics and space science covering primary level students to University graduates and academics. Her research interest lies in STEM education and art-craft. She is also a member at National Astronomy Olympiad Organizing Committee-Nepal and International Board of International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA), focal point for Universe Awareness (UNAWE) programs for Nepal. She also coordinates Women in Astronomy Nepal (WIAN) and a renowned female landscape astrophotographer. Her works has been featured in different national magazines and newspapers.

mug_shot - CopyYuval Brodsky


Yuval has a highly inter-disciplinary scientific and engineering background, and focuses on integrated applications and solutions using a wide range of methodologies and infrastructure, including space-based assets. He has worked on numerous projects in the fields of eHealth, disaster response/relief, public health, natural resource management, mobile asset tracking, and many others.

Yuval is a Director at the African Centre for eHealth Excellence (Acfee), where he specializes in the conception and development of eHealth services. He has worked for the European Space Agency in the Integrated Applications programme, and as a consultant in the fields of eHealth, human performance in extreme environments, astronautics and astronaut training.

Yuval has a wealth of diverse experiences that provide him with a unique and valuable design and assessment perspective. In addition to his interest in health ICT, Yuval has a keen interest in human performance in extreme environments, such as high altitude and space. He has worked as a systems engineer on a successful balloon-sat project, and is involved in the design of a proposed Mars analogue and habitat. He has worked as a forest firefighter and urban firefighter and an inshore rescue specialist with the Canadian Coast Guard.

Yuval graduated from McMaster University in 2009 with an honors B.Sc. in Earth and Environmental Sciences, with a minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing (RS). In 2010 he earned his M.Sc. in Space Management from the International Space University.

IMG_0070Lisa Stojanovski


Lisa Stojanovski is a science communicator currently based in Perth, Australia. She is also a YouTube video producer for the channel TMRO, where she interviews astronauts and leaders in the space industry, and explains the science experiments aboard the International Space Station. Lisa holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from Western Sydney University where her research focused on hibernation in mice. Lisa completed the International Space University’s Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program in 2016. She is currently studying a Graduate Certificate in Space Studies with the University of South Australia where she is working with NASA scientist Dr Christopher McKay to determine conditions needed to grow plants on Mars.

Lisa is passionate about increasing global scientific literacy so that science and space can be accessible to all. She recently spoke to over 3000 schoolchildren as part of National Youth Leaders Day in Brisbane, Australia. Lisa believes in providing equal opportunities to access space, and has interviewed the Australian public about their opinions on having an Australian Space Agency. Through International Space University, she learnt about the power of international cooperation and recommended Australia become an associate member of the European Space Agency in her submission to the recent review of the Australian Space Activities Act.