Keynote Speakers

Keynote lunches bring you the cutting edge speakers who challenge the status quo and provide a new perspective on traditional topics.


Technical Tracks

Becoming an Interstellar Civilization, Propulsion & Energy; Data, Communications, and Information Technology; Interstellar Education; Uncharted Space & Destinations; Interstellar Innovation Enhances LIfe on Earth, Life Science in Space Exploration, and introducing Poster Sessions.

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100YSS Classes

New 100YSS Classes will explore the areas of Engineering, Space Sciences, Education, Social Sciences, and Culture.

Plenary Sessions

2014 Plenary sessions include Keynotes, Trending Now, State of the Universe, Tech Track Show & Tell, and introducing our new workshop session - Radical Leaps.

Special Guests

Special Guests make the 100YSS Experience unique.


Experts, Activists, Scientists, Visionaries, and Educators– each one pushing the envelope of science, culture, and community.  Our 2014 speakers and guests share their ingenuity and talent which only enriches the 100 Year Starship symposium experience.

Science Fiction Night Authors

Yoon Ha Lee YOON HA LEE Science Fiction and Fantasy Author

Yoon Ha Lee’s short story collection Conservation of Shadows was published by Prime Books in 2013. Lee’s short fiction has appeared in, Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and other venues. Her stories “Ghostweight” and “Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” were Theodore Sturgeon Award finalists. Lee was born in Houston, Texas and has also lived in South Korea, Missouri, upstate New York, Boston, Washington state, and Southern California. Currently she lives in Louisiana with her family and has not yet been eaten by gators. Her website is

Edward M. Lerner EDWARD M. LERNER Science Fiction Author Author EDWARD M. LERNER has degrees in physics, computer science, and business. Before turning to full-time writing, he spent thirty years in high tech at every level from engineer to senior VP. He’s worked at such techie havens as Bell Labs, Hughes Aircraft, and Northrop Grumman. Lerner’s novels range from technothrillers, like Energized (asteroid deflection and solar power satellites) to traditional SF, like the InterstellarNet series, to (with NY Times bestselling author Larry Niven) the grand space epic Fleet of Worlds series. He writes nonfiction, too, on topics as varied as nanotechnology, privacy in the Internet era, defending Earth from asteroids—and technologies that might enable interstellar travel. Lerner is a member of the Science-fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and SIGMA (“The Science Fiction Think Tank”). His website is

Nisi_12 NISI SHAWL Science Fiction Author

Nisi Shawl’s story collection Filter House was a James Tiptree, Jr., Award winner.  She co-authored Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, and co-edited the 2014 Locus Award finalist Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler.  Shawl was the 2011 Guest of Honor for the feminist SF convention WisCon and a 2014 Guest of Honor for the Science Fiction Research Association.  She has spoken at Stanford and Duke Universities and Smith College, and is a co-founder of the Carl Brandon Society, a nonprofit supporting the presence of minorities in the fantastic genres.  Her website is

Plenary Speakers

Michael Epstein MAKERS: Women in Space Panelist, Director MAKERS’ Documentary

Michael Epstein is an Academy Award-nominated documentary producer, director and writer whose work has been awarded two George Foster Peabody Awards, two Primetime Emmy Awards, a Writers Guild Award, a Clio, as well as numerous other distinctions. His films have screened in dozens of international film festivals, and been broadcast throughout the world.


Les_Johnson_Web Les Johnson Radical Leaps Facilitator, Sci-Fi Author Scientist, Author, NASA technologist



Les Johnson is a scientist, an author, and a NASA technologist.  He is an author of several popular science books about space exploration, including “Living Off the Land in Space,” “Sky Alert: When Satellites Fail,” and “Harvesting Space for a Greener Earth;” and three science fiction books “Back to the Moon,” “Going Interstellar,” and “Rescue Mode.”   You might have seen him on NatGeo or The Science Channel where he has appeared in numerous programs about space and science.  In his day job, he serves as the Senior Technical Advisor for NASA’s Advanced Concepts Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.  Les is the Principal Investigator (PI) of NEA Scout, an asteroid reconnaissance mission being considered for launch in 2017 and the NASA Co-Investigator (Co-I) for the European Union’s Deploytech Solar Sail demonstration mission planned for launch in 2015.  He thrice received NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal and has 3 patents. Les is a frequent contributor to the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and a member of the National Space Society, the World Future Society, and MENSA.  He serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for the British Interplanetary Society and is Chairman of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop.  Les was the featured “interstellar explorer” in the January 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine and a technical consultant for the movie, “Europa Report.”

Nichelle Nichols,  MAKERS: Women in Space Panelist, Actress, Activist


Mason Peck, PhD Perils of Futuring Panelists, and State of the Universe PanelistHouse Hearing on NASA Technologies


Dr. Peck is an Associate Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University and the Director of Cornell’s Space Systems Design Studio. His research interests include space-systems architecture and satellite dynamics and control. From late 2011 through 2013 he served as NASA’s Chief Technologist in Washington, DC. In that role, he served as the agency’s chief strategist for technology investment and prioritization and chief advocate for innovation in aeronautics and space technology. Dr. Peck received an undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, a Master’s degree in English at the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering at UCLA. From 1994 to 2001 he was a systems engineer and attitude-control specialist at Boeing Integrated Defense Systems (the former Hughes Space and Communications) in El Segundo, California. From 2001 to 2004 he was a Principal Fellow at Honeywell in Phoenix, Arizona, where he directed research related to agile satellites and control-moment gyroscopes. Since 2004 he has been on the Faculty at Cornell University, where he is jointly appointed to the Systems Engineering program and the School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. His lab currently leads three spaceflight technology demonstrations, the most recent of which is Kicksat, a crowd-funded technology demonstrator for satellites-on-a-chip. More information on this research is available at and

Mike_Perschon_Web Mike Pershon, PhD Trending Now Panelist, Deep Dive Workshop Leader Steampunk Scholar



Dr. Mike Perschon began studying steampunk for his Ph.D. dissertation in the fall of 2008. That October, he attended Steam Powered, the Northern California Steampunk convention. In addition to sharing panels with Hugo-award winning fanzine editor Christopher J. Garcia, authors J. Daniel Sawyer, and the yet-unknown Gail Carriger, presented content that would become his first published article on steampunk: “Finding Nemo: Verne’s Antihero as Original Steampunk.” Perschon has published numerous articles on steampunk in fanzines, websites, and magazines, including Exhibition Hall,, On-Spec, and Locus. He has been featured in many interviews, from small personal blogs to USA Today. In the fall of 2012, Perschon defended his Ph.D. dissertation titled The Steampunk Aesthetic: Technofantasies in a Neo-Victorian Retrofuture. That fall, Steaming into a Victorian Future, the first English academic anthology on steampunk was released, which contained Perschon’s ‘Useful Troublemakers: Social Retrofuturism in the Novels of Gail Carriger and Cherie Priest.” With the release of that anthology, Perschon realized the goal he’d set when he began studying steampunk: to be at the forefront of steampunk studies in North America. Perschon currently resides in Edmonton, Alberta, in the Great White North of Canada, where he works as a full time instructor of English at Grant MacEwan University.

Amalie Sinclair, PhD
Trending Now Panelist, Deep Dive Workshop Leader Space Treaty Working Group

Amalie Sinclair was born in London on April 12th 1951. On her 10th birthday, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. With background in the arts and humanities her childhood years were formative ones, developing an insight for world culture, at an early age she took up studies for the extant philosophies of Asia, with many significant teachers including the late Karmapa XVI. In the 70’s she was introduced to the deep sematic structures of Wittgenstein through the work of the Cambridge Language Research Unit. In 1984 she located to California with her family where she wrote, directed and produced a program for the Millennial celebrations which included the participation of Lakota Sioux and peoples of Taos Pueblo, together with artists from Mongolia, Japan, South India, Tibet, Cambodia and Indonesia. In 2004 she was invited to address the formulation of an advanced US Space Policy with an opening program in Washington DC. Since then she has worked to promote international collaboration in space, providing various talks and presentations including for the planetary decadal survey and the Lunar Science Institute. Amalie is a Director of the Leeward Space Foundation, a member of the Star Voyager group, Lifeboat advisory board, and the UNISPACE program for advanced concepts. She is currently proposing for the placement of a specialized unit at the US Library of Congress dedicated towards forthcoming expansions of the 1967 Treaty on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

Peter_Swan_web Peter Swan, PhD Radical Leaps Panelist, Deep Dive Workshop Leader Space Elevators



President of the International Space Elevator Consortium.  As such, he leads a team who further the concept with incremental studies and yearly conferences.  Over the last ten years he has published five books on the topic as co-author and/or co-editor.  They are:  Space Elevators: An Assessment of the Technological Feasibility and the Way Forward [2013], Design Considerations for Space Elevator Tether Climbers [2014], Space Elevator Concept of Operations [2013], Space Elevator Survivability – Space Debris Mitigation [2012], and Space Elevators Systems Architecture [2005].  He graduated from the US Military Academy in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree and served 20 years in the Air Force with a variety of research and development positions in the space arena.  He taught at the Air Force Academy and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.  Upon retirement in 1988, he joined Motorola on the Iridium satellite program. He lead the team responsible for the development of the Iridium spacecraft bus.  In 1998, he helped develop Teaching Science and Technology, Inc. which teaches space systems engineering.  His classes emphasize engineering know-how and management techniques to successfully develop space systems of national importance.  Pete received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles in Mechanical Engineering with a specialty in space systems. He has published many papers and a few books; two of which are on preparing for SCUBA trips.


Jill Tarter, PhD State of the Universe Moderator,  SETI, Institute

Jill Tarter holds the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Tarter received her Bachelor of Engineering Physics Degree with Distinction from Cornell University and her Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley. She served as Project Scientist for NASA’s SETI program, the High Resolution Microwave Survey, and has conducted numerous observational programs at radio observatories worldwide. She is a Fellow of the AAAS and the California Academy of Sciences, she was named one of the Time 100 in 2004, and one of the Time 25 in Space in 2012, received a TED prize in 2009, public service awards from NASA, multiple awards for communicating science to the public, and has been honored as a woman in technology. Since the termination of funding for NASA’s SETI program in 1993, she has served in a leadership role to design and build the Allen Telescope Array and to secure private funding to continue the exploratory science of SETI. Dr. Tarter was recently awarded the prestigious Jansky Lectureship, which honors outstanding contributions to the field of Radio Astronomy. Many people are now familiar with her work as portrayed by Jodie Foster in the movie Contact.

Kurt Zatloukal, MD Plan B Panelist,  Advanced Health Care

Kurt Zatloukal’s research work focuses on molecular pathology of metabolic liver diseases and cancer. He coordinated the preparatory phase of a European biobanking and biomolecular research infrastructure (BBMRI) within the 7th EU framework programme. BBMRI should provide access to high quality human biological samples to enable future needs of large genetic epidemiology and sequencing studies. In this context it is crucial to establish Europe-wide harmonized processes and quality criteria that are compliant with the requirements of latest -omics technologies as well as with ethical and legal regulations. Furthermore, he leads in the FP7-funded large integrated project SPIDIA the development of new European standards and norms for tissue-based biomarkers, and leads the medical platform of the FET Flagship project IT Future of Medicine. Kurt Zatloukal was member of the OECD task force on biological resource centres and the Roadmap Working Group of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures. Moreover, he contributed to the OECD best practice guidelines for biological resource centres, the regulations for genetic testing of the Austrian Gene Technology Law, and the opinion on Biobanks for research of the Bioethics Commission at the Austrian Federal Chancellery.

Barry Holtz, President and CEO of InterveXion Therapeutics

Untitled1Dr. Holtz serves as President and CEO of InterveXion Therapeutics, specializing in monoclonal antibody and vaccine development for treatment of methamphetamine abuse. Dr. Holtz also serves as Chief Science and Technology officer for Caliber Biotherapeutics subsidiary specializing in the development of protein therapeutics for cancer therapy using plants as bioreactors.

Prior to the founding G-CON, LLC, Dr. Holtz was the Senior Vice President of Biopharmaceutical Development for Large Scale Biology Corporation for 15 years and was an integral member of the management team that took the company from a start-up to a successful public company.   Dr. Holtz was responsible for the product development, manufacturing, and clinical trials of new protein therapeutics.

Dr. Holtz was the founder and President of Holtz Bio-Engineering in 1981. Holtz Bio-Engineering was a biotech pioneer in the design of bioreactors and digital control systems.

Dr. Holtz has held research management positions at Foremost-Mckesson and was on the faculty of Ohio State University. He received his Ph.D. at Pennsylvania State University and was an NSF Postdoctoral Biochemist Fellow at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Dr. Holtz has been awarded 23 US patents and has published over 60 scientific papers. Dr. Holtz was awarded the Pennsylvania State University, Outstanding Alumni Award in 2003.

Rick N. Tumlinson

DSI_RT_portrait_smile_2011edit020213Rick Tumlinson has been called one of the world’s top space “Visionaries” and was listed by Space News as one of the world’s most influential space leaders. He helped create the NewSpace commercial space industry that today includes Virgin Galactic and SpaceX and billionaire investors like Paul Allen and Larry Paige of Google. He co-Founded the Space Frontier Foundation, led the team that took over the Mir Space Station for a year, signed up the first “space tourist”, and has spoken as an expert witness before Congress 6 times on space policy. He helped found the International Space University, the Lunar Prospector Project that discovered water on the Moon, and the Mars Society and founded the commercial space suit company Orbital Outfitters Inc.. A founding trustee of the XPrize, he founded the Texas Space Alliance and the EarthLight Foundation/New Worlds Institute, and Deep Space Industries, an asteroid mining company. He is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and his writings and interviews appear in media worldwide, from CNN to the New York Times, to Fox News and the People’s Daily.

Dorit Donoviel, Ph.D.  Biosketch

retouched full resolution image donovielThe National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), Deputy Chief Scientist and Industry Forum Lead

Director, The Laboratory for Biomedical Innovations

Baylor College of Medicine, Center for Space Medicine and Dept. of Pharmacology, Assistant Professor

Dr. Donoviel oversees the diverse portfolio of science and technology research and development projects at NSBRI that address the challenges faced by humans in space. She leads the NSBRI Industry Forum and the SMARTCAP seed award program for commercialization of biomedical technologies co-developed for both space and Earth-based markets. Dr. Donoviel is Director of the Laboratory for Biomedical Innovations where she evaluates emerging medical products that have the potential to transform medical care in space and on Earth.

Dr. Donoviel is also an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Center for Space Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, lecturing and mentoring medical students in space biomedical research. Before joining NSBRI, Dr. Donoviel worked in Pharmaceutical Discovery for 8 years at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company based in The Woodlands, Texas. She managed a metabolism research group that identified and validated targets for drug discovery by using in-vivo functional genomics technology, and developed small molecule compounds, antibody, and protein therapeutics against these validated targets.

Christopher Randall

chris randallChristopher Randall, a Chicago native, moved to Huntsville in 1994 to begin his college education. Since receiving a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Alabama A&M University, he has worked most of his career at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) as an Aerospace Engineer for the Valves, Actuators & Ducts Design and Development branch.

In September of 2009, students, educators and parents across the country heard inspiring messages about the importance of staying in school from President Barack Obama, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Aerospace Engineer, Chris Randall as he was selected by NASA to support the President’s and Administrator’s “Back to School” speeches. Chris webcasted live to schools across the nation specifically about the importance of math, science, engineering and technology.

He was nominated for the “Trailblazer” award in 2010 and has since then assumed several leadership roles in his organization. The Trailblazer award issued by the Black Engineer of the Year Awards is presented annually during the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Global Competitiveness Conference.

In 2012, he transitioned into a new role supporting the Academic Affairs Office as Co-op Program Coordinator for MSFC’s Office of Human Capital. While there, he served as the center lead for recruitment and student placement.

Randall now works in MSFC’s Office of Strategic Analysis and Communications as Technical Liaison to the External Relations team. In this role Chris provides integrated analysis, planning and communications capabilities that facilitate key Center decisions and relationships.

Chris has been a part of the Space 2100 team since the beginning of the 2014 Sprint in February and has facilitated many discussions on the topic.

Marc Garvin

Interlude Presentation—Music, Analytics and the Creative Process.

Marc Garvin is a guitar soloist, chamber music performer and well-known instructor.  He’s performed regularly with Houston’s classical music triad of the Houston Symphony, Houston Grand Opera and Houston Ballet. Whether performing with the Pittsburgh Symphony Chamber Music Ensemble, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., or as a recitalist through the Texas Commission on the Arts, his enthusiasm and musicality has charmed audiences throughout the United States and Canada. As a graduate with a degree in music from Carnegie-Mellon University, Marc Garvin has placed a high emphasis on music education. He currently is the principle classical guitar instructor at Lamar University and Houston Community College (Central Campus). He has also worked as an artist on the roster of Young Audiences of America, and was an active teaching artist for the Texas Institute for Arts in Education. As an instructor, Mr. Garvin has been on the faculties of Carnegie-Mellon University, Houston Baptist University and San Jacinto Jr. College. Many of his students have been accepted to prestigious music schools including The New England Conservatory of Music, The University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, The Butler School of Music at The University of Texas, The University of Miami’s Frost School of Music and The Beinen School of Music at Northwestern University. Marc will also be performing for 100YSS at our Accelerating Creativity reception and dinner.

Cynthia Fergeson

Cynthia “Tia” Kaiser Ferguson was born and raised in Natchez, MS.  She graduated from Tulane University in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, and from the University of Alabama in Huntsville in 2003 with a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering.  She has been a Professional Engineer since 1998 and holds a patent for a Micro-Electro-Mechanical-Systems (MEMS) translation stage.  Ms. Ferguson has worked at NASA for almost 25 years.  She started at Kennedy Space Center, employed from 1990 – 1995 as an integration and test engineer for various space shuttle payloads before moving to Huntsville, AL to work at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC).  At MSFC, her current position is Project Manager for SERVIR, which is a joint NASA-USAID international initiative to help developing countries use information provided by Earth observing satellites and geospatial technologies for managing climate risks and land use. SERVIR has an imaging instrument on the International Space Station (ISERV), and hub organizations in Mesoamerica, Eastern and Southern Africa, and Hindu Kush Himalaya regions, with plans to expand to South East Asia and West Africa regions. Prior to her SERVIR management role, Ms. Ferguson served as Assistant Manager for the MSFC Science and Technology Office, Branch Chief of the Structural and Mechanical Design branch for the Space Systems Department, Project Manager for Cargo Element Integration of the Multi-Purpose Logistics Module (MPLM) for ISS during the development phase, and Structural and Mechanical Design engineer for space and ground hardware. At MSFC she has operated a science Earth observing payload on a Spacelab mission, been a scuba diver to support Hubble Space Telescope astronauts training for a repair mission, and recovered a cosmic radiation experiment 200 miles from the South Pole.  She currently lives in Huntsville with her husband and two teenage children.

whitson-thumbnailPeggy A. Whitson (Ph.D.)

EDUCATION:  Graduated from Mt. Ayr Community High School, Mt. Ayr, Iowa, in 1978; received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1981 and a Doctorate in Biochemistry from Rice University in 1985.

EXPERIENCE:  From 1981 to 1985, Whitson conducted her graduate work in Biochemistry at Rice University, Houston, Texas, as a Robert A. Welch Predoctoral Fellow.  Following completion of her graduate work, she continued at Rice University as a Robert A. Welch Postdoctoral Fellow until October 1986.  Following this position, she began her studies at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, Texas, as a National Research Council Resident Research Associate.  From April 1988 until September 1989, Whitson served as the Supervisor for the Biochemistry Research Group at KRUG International, a medical sciences contractor at NASA-JSC.  From 1991 to 1997, Whitson was invited to be an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics at University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas.  In 1997, Whitson began a position as Adjunct Assistant Professor at Rice University in the Maybee Laboratory for Biochemical and Genetic Engineering.

NASA EXPERIENCE:  From 1989 to 1993, Whitson worked as a Research Biochemist in the Biomedical Operations and Research Branch at NASA-JSC.  From 1991 to 1993, she served as Technical Monitor of the Biochemistry Research Laboratories in the Biomedical Operations and Research Branch.  From 1991 to 1992, she was the Payload Element Developer for the Bone Cell Research Experiment (E10) aboard SL-J (STS-47) and was a member of the U.S.-USSR Joint Working Group in Space Medicine and Biology.  In 1992, she was named the Project Scientist of the Shuttle-Mir Program (STS-60, STS-63, STS-71, Mir 18, Mir 19) and served in this capacity until the conclusion of the Phase 1A Program in 1995.  From 1993 to 1996, Whitson held the additional responsibilities of the Deputy Division Chief of the Medical Sciences Division at NASA-JSC.  From 1995 to 1996, she served as Co-Chair of the U.S.-Russian Mission Science Working Group.  In April 1996, she was selected as an Astronaut Candidate and started training in August 1996.  Upon completing two years of training and evaluation, she was assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Operations Planning Branch and served as the lead for the Crew Test Support Team in Russia from 1998 to 1999.  From November 2003 to March 2005, she served as Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office.  Also in 2003, she served as commander of the fifth NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) mission.

From March 2005 to November 2005, she served as Chief of the Station Operations Branch, Astronaut Office.  Whitson trained as the backup ISS commander for Expedition 14 from November 2005 to September 2006.  Whitson also was a member of the 2004 Astronaut Selection Board and chaired the Astronaut Selection Board in 2009.
Whitson completed two six-month tours of duty aboard the International Space Station, the second as the station commander for Expedition 16 in April 2008.  This was Whitson’s second long-duration spaceflight.  She has accumulated 377 days in space between the two missions, the most for any woman.  Whitson has also performed a total of six career spacewalks, adding up to 39 hours and 46 minutes.

From October 2009 to July 2012, Whitson served as Chief of the Astronaut Corps and was responsible for the mission preparation activities and on-orbit support of all International Space Station crews and their support personnel.  She was also responsible for organizing the crew interface support for future heavy launch and commercially-provided transport vehicles.

Peter Murray, Marketing Director,  Firaxis Games,

Murray joined Firaxis in 2009 where he serves as Marketing Director. He is also writer on the new game Civilization:Beyond Earth, the next installment of the award-wining Sid Meier’s Civlizaiton franchise. Murray graduated from Indiana University with an MA in Experimental Cognitive Psychology in 2001. His undergraduate degree is in Psychology.

Event Moderators

Karl Aspelund, PhD,  Perils of Futuring, Moderator

Jason D. Batt,  Science Fiction Stories Night Moderator

Ronke Olabisi, PhD Science Fiction Stories Night Movie Reviewer

Alires J. AlmonCivilization: Beyond Earth

Technical Track Chairs


Pamela Contag, PhD

Overall Technical Track Chair

Pamela R. Contag, PhD, has founded four early stage technology companies, most recently ConcentRx, a cell-based immune therapy company and Cygnet Inc. commercializing a platform technology to discover beneficial microbes for applications in food, renewable fuels, low cost therapeutics, industrial enzymes, and carbon dioxide capture. With more than 25 years of microbiology research experience, Dr. Contag is widely published in the field of Microbiology and Optical imaging and has over 35 patents in Biotechnology. Dr. Contag received her Ph.D. in Microbiology.


John C. McKnight, JD, PhD.

Becoming an Interstellar Civilization Track Chair

John Carter McKnight is a former corporate finance lawyer with a PhD in Human & Social Dimensions of Science and Technology . His research focuses on emergent community governance, ethics and social norm enforcement in technologically-mediated spaces from internet gaming communities to spacecraft. He is currently a postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Sociologyat Lancaster University in the U.K. Dr. McKnight is working on the Third Party Dematerialization and Rematerialization of Capital project on peer-to-peer finance communities.


Yvonne D. Cagle, MD

Life Sciences in Space Exploration Track Chair

Dr. Yvonne Cagle is an astronaut for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a Colonel, U.S. Air Force (retired), a Family Physician, and consulting professor for Stanford University’s department of cardiovascular medicine and its department of electrical engineering. Dr. Cagle is currently the Chief scientist for the Level II Program Office of NASA’s Commercial Reuseable Suborbital Research program.  Her groundbreaking work is preserving NASA legacy data while galvanizing NASA’s lead in global mapping, sustainable energies, green initiatives and disaster preparedness.She was assigned as Stanford’s lead astronaut science liaison and strategic relationships manager for Google and other Silicon Valley programmatic partnerships.


David Alexander, PhD

Uncharted Space and Destinations Track Chair

David Alexander , PhD is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, where his primary area of research is solar astrophysics. Professor Alexander is author of “The Sun” part of the Greenwood Press “Guide to the Universe” Series. Professor Alexander has served on many national and professional committees including the NASA Advisory Council’s Heliophysics Subcommittee, the NASA Solar Heliospheric Management and Operations Working Group (SH-MOWG), ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter Payload Committee and the Science Advisory Board of the High Altitude Observatory Coronal Solar Magnetism Observatory.


Hakeem Oluseyi, PhD

Propulsion & Energy Track Co-Chair

Hakeem M. Oluseyi, PhD is an internationally recognized astrophysicist, science TV personality, and global science education activist. His research interests span the fields of astrophysics, cosmology, and technology development. He currently has 7 U.S. patents, 4 EU patents and over 60 scholarly publications in the areas of astrophysics, optics and detector technologies development; nanotechnology manufacturing; observational cosmology; and the history of astronomy. Dr. Oluseyi leads a group studying processes by which electromagnetic fields and plasmas interact in order to understand solar atmospheric heating and acceleration, which has resulted in a new in-space propulsion technology.


Eric Davis, PhD

Propulsion & Energy Track Co-Chair

Eric Davis, PhD is a Senior Research Physicist at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin and is the co-editor/author of the first-ever academic research monograph on breakthrough propulsion physics for interstellar flight: Frontiers of Propulsion Science (AIAA Press). His research specializations include breakthrough propulsion physics, beamed energy and nuclear propulsion, general relativity theory, and quantum field theory. Since 1984, Dr. Davis has been a contractor/consultant to the USAF, Air Force Research Laboratory, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and NASA. He has been featured in American and UK television and film productions, as well as in numerous news media articles, on interstellar flight.

marianne capannetoo

Marianne Caponnetto

Interstellar Innovations Enhances Life on Earth Track Co-Chair

Ms. Caponnetto’s career has included the roles of global strategist, marketer and sales leader. As Founder of MCW Group, she acts as Strategic Advisor and Consultant with a focus on technology start-ups, Venture Capital and Fortune 500 organizations with significant transformational and growth objectives in both B2B and B2C businesses. She is also a Founding Partner in HyperBlue Lab, a technology IP consulting firm. From 2005-2008, as Chief Sales and Marketing Officer of DoubleClick, she was a key member of the management team that recaptured digital market leadership, resulting in the sale of the company to Google.


Dan Hanson

Interstellar Innovations Enhance Life on Earth  Track Co-Chair

Dan is a principal with Technology Innovation Group, Inc. (TIG). Dan has a keen interest in leveraging art, science, and education infrastructure to promote economic development in regional economies across the globe. TIG pursues it mission through two primary service offerings: advising governments, foundations, and communities wanting to build technology-based economies; and serving as translational consultants with institutions and private companies to commercialize specific technologies, primarily those with public health or economic development benefits. TIG works with clients that are developing products and services based on complex technologies, and universities and research institutions that desire to move discoveries from the laboratory to businesses.


Ron Cole

Data, Communications, and Information Technology Track Chair

Ron finished a 50-year career with the US Intelligence Community in May 2013. Ron received the Civilian Defense Meritorious Award upon leaving the NSA to begin working with Scitor Corporation as a systems engineer technical advisor to the NSA and the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) on system development and data processing. Ron left Scitor to go to work for Riverside Research as a senior advisor for five years to the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency on technology developments for mission execution and then moved to support the NRO on policy and management issues.

Karl Online2

Karl Aspelund, PhD

Designing for Interstellar Chair

Karl Aspelund, PhD, is an anthropologist with a design background. He is assistant professor at the Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design at the University of Rhode Island and visiting professor of ethnography at the University of Iceland. His interests lie in examining the role of textiles and design in identity-creation, the environmental impact of the textile life-cycle, and how designers may contribute to environmental sustainability. He is currently investigating the design and cultural needs and constraints of apparel in long-term space exploration. Dr. Aspelund was recently a speaker at TEDx Reykjavik in Iceland.


Kathleen Toerpe, PhD

Interstellar Education Track Chair

Kathleen D. Toerpe, PhD, is a social and cultural historian who researches the human dimension of outer space through an emerging field called “astrosociology.” She is the Deputy CEO for Programs and Special Projects with the Astrosociology Research Institute, and volunteers as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador. She has served as a Historian-in-Residence and a museum Educational Curator and has provided local outreach programming, oral history program management and exhibit curation. As a research and applied astrosociologist, she investigates how individuals and societies react and respond to space exploration and astrobiological discoveries, and how those responses can reflect, predict, inform or mitigate social and cultural conflict here on earth.


Timothy Meehan, PhD

Poster Sessions Chair

Timothy Meehan, PhD has extensive expertise in biomolecular analytical science and diagnostics. He has applied nanotechnology approaches to bioengineering through a collaborative effort with the Australian Stem Cell Centre in order to achieve large scale human synthetic whole blood production. Tim is a seasoned small business leader with experience in genetic diagnostics, microbial parasite detection and commercial New Space startup ventures. At Saber Astronautics he is working with NASA performing reduced gravity hardware flight tests and developing the next generation of autonomous fault detection and recovery solutions for spacecraft.

100YSS Class Leaders

Bobby Farlice-Rubio 

Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium; 100YSS Class Organizer

Bobby Farlice-Rubio has been a Science Educator at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, Vermont since 2003. There he teaches classes, to visiting students and the public at large, on a wide variety of subjects ranging from Astronomy and Natural Sciences to History and Culture. Mr. Farlice-Rubio may also be seen in his monthly “Star Struck” segments on WCAX-TV’s news show “The :30,” on which he presents the latest happenings in the field of Astronomy. Raised in Hialeah, Florida from Cuban and African-American roots, Bobby is also an avid musician who plays in a local band called Tritium Well, as well as his solo musical endeavor, Bobby & The Isotopes. He currently resides in Barnet, Vermont with his partner and their four children.

Dr. Ronke Olabisi, Life Sciences: Leaving the Nest

Jason D. Batt, Culture: Science Fiction Dream Factory

Alires Almon, Social Sciences: Can We All Just Get Along?


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