IAF Young Space Leaders 2018

The annual Young Space Leaders (YSL) Recognition Programme recognises exceptional students and young professionals (age 21-35) who demonstrate leadership in their academic or early careers by contributing  to astronautics through their academic and/or professional activities, reaching out to other young people and to their community to share knowledge and experience, engaging colleagues in the international space community, and contributing to the work of IAF committees and/or volunteering in support of other Federation activities.

The IAF is proud to present the 2018 Young Space Leaders!

Those three students and young professionals were chosen by the Young Space Leaders Recognition Selection Committee composed of six higly experienced space stakeholders. They will attend the IAC Gala Dinner as guests of the IAF President and the IAC registration fees will be waived for the year of their induction.


Ali Nasseri

Ali Nasseri recently completed a Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher Fellowship at ISI Foundation along with a PhD from the Politecnico di Torino, where he worked as part of the ITN WALL project on modeling magnetic phenomena in nanostructures. Prior to that, Ali conducted graduate research on developing surrogates for aerospace fuels at the University of Toronto, and worked on system level modeling and design optimization of space systems at K. N. Toosi University of Technology. He is also a graduate of the ISU SSP 2014.

Ali is the outgoing Chair and Advisory Board Member of the Space Generation Advisory Council, an organization he has worked with since 2012. Within the International Astronautical Federation, he serves as a member on the Space Education and Outreach Committee (SEOC) and the Workforce Development-Young Professionals Programme Committee (WD-YPP).

When not conducting research or volunteering with professional organizations, Ali works with organizations such as the University of Toronto’s Engineering Outreach Office and Let’s Talk Science to deliver STEM outreach programs, or consults with organizations such as the Skolkovo Foundation with their start-up incubation programs.


Jackelynne Silva-Martinez

Jackelynne was born in Cusco, Peru. She earned two bachelor degrees from Rutgers University; one in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and a second one in Spanish Translation and Interpretation.  She earned a Certificate in Lean Six Sigma from the Lockheed Martin Greenbelt Program, and a Certificate in Engineering Management from Drexel University.  Jackelynne obtained a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science with concentration in Human Factors Aviation/Aerospace Systems from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University; and a second Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering with concentration in Space Systems Integration at Georgia Institute of Technology.  Jackelynne is an alumna of the 2015 Space Studies Program from the International Space University.

Jackelynne works at NASA Johnson Space Center in the International Space Station Mission Planning Operations within the Flight Operations Directorate. She conducts research on crew autonomous scheduling aboard the ISS, and supports ground tests for Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway.  At JSC, she has worked in the aircraft operations division with the T-38 trainer aircraft primary flight displays, and in the human health and performance branch conducting human in the loop evaluations for Orion.  Prior to JSC, she worked as Mechanical Engineer and Test Operator at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory on the Robotic Manipulators and Deployable Booms group performing verification and validation ground tests for the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity Rover mission.  And ealier, Jackelynne worked for Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company as Antennas Mechanical Design Engineer and as a Systems Integration and Test Engineer for commercial and government satellite programs.  Her research is on Human Systems Integration.  She participated as Mission Specialist in the Human Exploration Research Analog mission, and as Executive Officer in the Mars Desert Research Station analog mission.

Jackelynne is the founder of the Centro de Ciencia, Liderazgo y Cultura, which brings topics of science, leadership and culture to the young generation at an international level.  She is an active member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Space Generation Advisory Council in support of the United Nations programme in space applications, and the International Astronautical Federation.  She has served as chair for the habitability and human factors subcommittee of the Space Architecture Technical Committee, the AIAA Young Professionals Committee, and the IAF Workforce Development and Young Professionals Committee. She has many conference and journal publications.  Jackelynne and her husband have a son and a daughter.  She enjoys reading, traveling, dancing, and learning from different cultures.  Her interests include human spaceflight, mission operations, space architecture, systems engineering, project management, STEM and STEAM initiatives.


Michal Kunes

Michal Kunes has been involved in the space industry for more than six years. He holds two Master’s degrees. Michal studied Business Administration and Management at the University of Economics between 2008 and 2013, and Aerospace Systems at the Czech Technical University between 2013 and 2016. This unique combination of education helps him to close the gap that often separates technical and business professionals in the space sector.

He is currently working as a Project Manager at the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre in Prague (ESA BIC Prague). His aim is to inspire entrepreneurs to turn space-connected business ideas into commercial companies and to provide them with technical expertise and business development support. Between 2012 and 2017, Michal worked as a consultant at the Czech Space Office. In that position, he sought to develop space activities in the Czech Republic and to provide Czech organizations with information on international space programs.

He is also active as a volunteer, supporting and inspiring other young people to get involved in space projects, competitions and other activities. Between 2014 and 2018, he served as the National Point of Contact for the Czech Republic and later as the Scholarships Coordinator and also as a member of the Executive Council at the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC).  As National Point of Contact, he acted as a communication channel between Czech students and young professionals and SGAC. As Scholarships Coordinator, he was responsible for running all scholarships and competitions and communication with sponsors and partners. Furthermore, in 2015, Michal established the Czech Space Network. This platform connects Czech students and young professionals interested in being involved in space activities, enabling them to communicate, meet and work together.

Since 2014, Michal has been actively contributing to the activities of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). He currently serves as a member of the Workforce Development and Young Professionals Programme Committee, the Space Education and Outreach Committee and the Entrepreneurship and Investment Committee. Previously he was also a member of two more committees, the International Project/Programme Management Committee and Knowledge Management for Space Organisations Committee.