Winners of the 2019 IAF Young Space Leaders Recognition Programme

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 2019 Young Space Leaders!

Those five students and young professionals were chosen by the Young Space Leaders Recognition Sub-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.


Olga Stelmakh-Drescher

Dr. Olga Stelmakh-Drescher is an international space lawyer, NewSpace advocate and space environmentalist – shaper of the Space Sustainability Goals and social responsibility for space activities concepts. She holds the position of Director of Business Development and International Affairs at the International Institute of Space Commerce and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Space Technologies. In addition to this, she is the Assistant Executive Secretary and Head of the Board Election Committee at the International Institute of Space Law.

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Dr. Olga has an extensive background in space matters, having worked in the space sector for more than 15 years, including seven years of governmental and parliamentarian engagement (European Space Agency, Ukrainian Space Agency, Parliament of Ukraine, and German Aerospace Center). She has become noted as a lawyer with strong business, diplomacy and policy background, working around the globe, combining public service with academic work and legal practice.

Academically, an alumna of Paris-11 Institute of Space and Telecommunication Law and International Space University, Dr. Stelmakh-Drescher holds a Doctorate in International Law specializing in Space Sustainability and Security, two Master of Laws (LLM) degrees, and two Master in Business Administration degrees. She pursued her Postdoctoral degree at McGill Institute of Air and Space Law where she coordinated an International Study on the Global Space Governance and was one of its lead drafters. Additionally, she was a visiting scholar and research associate with the George Washington University Space Policy Institute. She has also completed a number of professional development and leadership programs, including the Legislative Fellowship Program (U.S. Department of State), Public International Law Course (The Hague Academy of International Law), Training for International Diplomats (German Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Intellectual Property Law Course (WIPO Academy) and International Arbitration Course (ICC Arbitration).

In 2013, she was honored with the IAF Emerging Space Leaders recognition award, in 2015 – with Secure World Foundation award and in 2017 – with Space Generation Leadership Award. For the past five years she was a judge of the regional rounds of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition.

Dr. Olga is a member of many high-profile professional groups, sits on several boards and committees, including the IAF Space Economy Committee and Entrepreneurship & Investment Committee. In her personal capacity she also acts as a space strategy development and implementation adviser to several governments.

Dr. Stelmakh-Drescher is a frequent speaker at many international space fora (United States, Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific), chaired and moderated number of panel discussions. She places a lot of emphasis on leadership, knowledge-based society, inclusiveness and empowerment of the next generation, serves as mentor to many and is an often lecturer on issues of space sustainability and security, NewSpace and global space governance. Dr. Olga publishes extensively on space-related topics.


Matteo Emanuelli

Matteo Emanuelli works as Senior Systems Engineer at GomSpace, a leading provider of turn-key solutions using nano- and microsatellites. Matteo is the technical manager for several programs in GomSpace, spanning from advanced in-orbit demonstration spacecraft to a LEO constellation aiming to provide tracking and surveillance for aircraft and ships. Matteo has received his master degree in space engineering at Politenico di Milano, in Italy.

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Before joining GomSpace in Denmark, Matteo has worked for HE Space in the Netherlands and for the Université de Picardie Jules Verne, in France. Matteo has also contributed to the International Association for Advancement of Space Safety supporting ADMIRE study, to quantify the risk for aviation coming form space debris and meteoroids.

Matteo is Chair of Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), a global, non-governmental Organisation and professional network which brings the views of students and young space professionals to the United Nations, industry, academia and space agencies. He has been involved in SGAC since 2011 in various roles: National Point of Contact for Italy, Co-Lead of the Space Safety and Sustainability Project Group and Regional Coordinator for the Europe. Through SGAC, Matteo joined IAF’s activities participating both in technical and administrative committees.

João Lousada

João Lousada graduated from Instituto Superior Técnico, in Portugal, with a Masters in Aerospace Engineering that included studies at Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya, in Spain, and University of Victoria, in Canada. He has worked in space feasibility concepts at the German Aerospace Agency (DLR) and in satellite assembly, integration and testing at OHB System, for European Space Agency (ESA) projects.

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Today he is a Systems Flight Control Engineer (STRATOS) for the Columbus Module of the International Space Station. He is also an active member of multiple volunteer organizations related to the space sector, such as the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), where he has been participating and leading several technical projects as well as acting as co-lead of the Space Safety and Sustainability project group and as National Point of Contact for Portugal. João has also been a part of the core organizing teams of several SGAC events, including national, regional and global events; and he is currently the SGAC regional coordinator for the European region. He is also an analog astronaut and field commander at the Austrian Space Forum, having taken part in multiple analog missions with different space suit simulators.

Avid Roman Gonzalez

Avid ROMAN-GONZALEZ is an IEEE Senior Member. He is an electronic engineer from the Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad del Cusco, a systems engineer from the Universidad Andina del Cusco. He received his master’s degree in industrial and human automatic, from the Université Paul Verlaine de Metz – France, and he received his Ph.D. degree in image and signal processing from TELECOM ParisTech. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia.

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His work experience includes research at the French Space Agency (CNES) and German Aerospace Center (DLR); university teaching (Universidad Nacional San Antonio Abad del Cusco – UNSAAC, Universidad Andina del Cusco – UAC, Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria – UNI, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia – UPCH, Universidad de Ciencias y Humanidades – UCH, and Universidad Nacional Tecnologica de Lima Sur – UNTELS); performance as consulting engineer in the Peruvian Space Agency (CONIDA), SPECTRUM, EGEMSA, etc.

Currently, he is the coordinator of the Image Processing Research Laboratory (INTI-Lab) at Universidad de Ciencias y Humanidades (UCH) and full professor at Universidad Nacional Tecnologica de Lima Sur (UNTELS).

He participates as keynote speaker and jury of projects in various academic events. He has more than 60 international published papers. He gives more than 100 lectures.

His areas of interest are signal and image processing, biometrics, artificial intelligence, human automation, bioengineering, industrial automatic, control, and aerospace technology.


Mia Brown

Mia Brown is a space policy and research professional with a background in international government affairs. She is currently a Research Associate at the Space & Aeronautics Boards of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, DC. In this role, she supports consensus-building activities, focusing her time on encouraging discourse among today’s most challenging topics across different communities within the international and private space sectors. This includes expanding the conversations beyond traditional boundaries and building platforms for diverse stakeholder engagement, leading to cross-disciplinary approaches for addressing the intersections of space exploration and policy.

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Mia is also widely involved in promoting programs for early career individuals and young professionals. She was the primary point of contact for two projects that engaged young professionals in furthering their understanding of space science and policy. First, the Astro2020 Decadal Survey Early Career Focus Session was the first workshop of its kind to solely focus on early career involvement in the Decadal Survey process and will pave the way for similar workshops for future decadal surveys. Second, Mia helped bring early career individuals to the Space Studies Board’s annual Space Science Week meetings, which gave young professionals a seat at the table with members of the senior space science community. Mia also supports the boards by mentoring participants of the Lloyd V. Berkner Space Policy Internship Program and the Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellowship Program. With each new cohort of interns and fellows, she provides mentorship and guidance on the National Academy of Sciences and on space policy.

Mia has interned and worked for various organizations including NASA, Arianespace, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the Federal Communications Commission, the Space Policy Institute at The George Washington University (GWU), and the U.S. Department of State. Mia has remained focused on civil and defense policy issues, including international space cooperation, space regulation, and international treaty engagement and implementation. From 2014 to 2015, Mia was the Managing Editor of the International Affairs Review Journal (print edition).

Prior to joining the NAS, Mia received a masters degree in International Science & Technology Policy, focusing on international space policy, from the Space Policy Institute at GWU. She also holds a masters degree in Historical Studies from University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where she focused on the intersection of technology and foreign policy and completed a thesis on 20th century space diplomacy. She holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UMBC, and has worked and studied in several countries across Europe and Asia.