Bethany Downer was born and raised in St. John's, Newfoundland and currently works around the world in the domain of outreach and communications for space. She received her Bachelor of Science from Memorial University of Newfoundland before completing the MSS program at ISU. She currently manages the outreach of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope for the European Space Agency. Bethany is also the first scientist-astronaut candidate from Newfoundland as part of the first and only crewed suborbital research program that studies the upper mesosphere through polar suborbital research, Project PoSSUM. At 25 years old, she is the youngest-ever recipient of Memorial University's Horizon Alumni award, which she received in 2018, and has twice been named one of Canada's Top 30 Under 30.
Daphne de Jong
Daphne de Jong recently started working for one of the most advanced autonomous vehicle companies and moved to California from Seattle. There she worked for Amazon Prime Air, aiming to deliver the majority of Amazon’s packages to their customers in 30 minutes or less, by autonomous drones. Before Amazon Prime Air she spent time at NASA Ames, focused on optimizing flight networks. She has chosen to dedicate her career to work with very talented people to develop technologies that will transform people’s lives.
Besides working on new technologies, Daphne is very passionate about mountaineering. She has climbed mountains in Europe but really started climbing when she was living in Seattle. In Washington she was surrounded by volcanoes and spent every free day in the mountains. Daphne has climbed some of the tallest mountains in the world and most recently, she summited Mt. Everest.
Even though she believed she was mentally and physically prepared for the climb, she was not prepared for getting altitude sickness on the way down. Even though the ascent was not easy, the way down was the real struggle. According to Daphne, the years she spent to prepare and train for this climb were definitely worth it. Climbing is something she will keep doing and the next trip is in the making, which will be with an all-female team.
Not only the climb itself was challenging, also the preparation regarding the gear and logistics. Most of the expedition gear was not available for women, including watches and trackers. This is how she landed a sponsorship with a European sports brand. Daphne believes that women should help each other in the outdoor industry and finds it shocking how few women are climbing big mountains.
Daphne also holds her commercial pilot’s license and her skipper license, which taught her a lot about both dealing with pressure, as well as thinking ahead in tricky situations. Outside work and climbing she’s an advocate for women and girls who do not have similar opportunities. Daphne is a board director at UN Women in San Francisco, is involved in several organizations aiming to break gender bias barriers, and helped set up an organization to teach girls how to code.
David is a Senior Engineer and Manager working as a contractor for NASA Ames Research Center where he helps leading the Mission Design Center to assess how potential future robotic missions can explore the Solar System. A graduate of the Italian Naval Academy with 14 years of professional military experience as an Officer in the Italian Marines and Navy, David ended his military career as Commanding Officer of a Marine rifle assault company. He holds degrees in Engineering, Naval and Maritime Science and Space Studies. Besides several military medals and commendations, he is also the recipient of the NASA Exceptional Public Achievement Medal.
Michal Ziso is the founder of ZISO, a firm combining architecture with innovation and equality ideas; and the founder + CEO of Mars is More, a platform that aims to make space accessible, collects data on spatial needs of diverse groups in the population and promotes idea sharing to create a movement of thought leaders who impact our future.
Dr. Omar Hatamleh is the Executive Director of the Space Studies Program at the International Space University. In addition to
his role at ISU, Omar is the Chief Innovation Officer, Engineering at NASA. Prior to that he was the Deputy Chief Scientist at NASA
ARC responsible for identifying new and promising areas of scientific research and supporting technologies that can be
integrated into the Center's capabilities.
Omar has twenty years of aerospace industry experience and has published over 33 international journal articles; he has four engineering degrees, speaks four languages, and has been an invited keynote
speaker to multiple national and international events including major innovation conferences of Google, IBM and the European Investment Fund.
Chairman, Breakthrough Foundation
Simon Peter “Pete” Worden, (Brig. Gen., USAF, Ret., PhD) (born 1949, in Michigan, USA) is the Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the foundation’s ‘Breakthrough Initiatives’. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Astronomy for the University of Arizona.
Prior to joining the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Dr. Worden was Director of NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, USA until his retirement on March 31, 2015. He has held several positions in the United States Air Force and was research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. He is a recognized expert on space and science issues – both civil and military, and has been a leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector internationally.
A musician of international fame, Philippe Geiss is saxophonist and composer. He is Professor at the Strasbourg Conservatory and the Strasbourg Superior Music Academy / Haute École des Arts du Rhin and a member of the scientific committee of LabEx-GREAM at Strasbourg University. His project « Duo Ostinato » is a collaboration in which the demands of interpretation rub shoulders with the freedom of improvisation. Created in 2015, the group has quickly developed an important reputation internationally, performing all over the world. Marija Aupy (piano) and Philippe Geiss (saxophone), both passionate about chamber music, enrich their playing by seeking out new repertoires and creating a dialogue between musical styles. Step by step, through original works and arrangements by Philippe Geiss, they have developed a “crossover” language of their own. The CD “Galaxsax” published by Nomadmusic is dedicated to Thomas Pesquet.
Dr. Shawna Pandya is a citizen-scientist astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM, physician, speaker, martial artist, advanced diver, skydiver and pilot-in-training. She holds degrees in neuroscience, space, entrepreneurship and medicine, and is currently completing a fellowship in Wilderness Medicine.
In 2015, Dr. Pandya completed Scientist-Astronaut Candidate training with Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) and was part of the first crew to test a commercial spacesuit in zero-gravity; her work with Project PoSSUM and Final Frontier Design was captured in the CBC Documentary, “We Are Canada.” She has continued to test commercial spacesuits with Project PoSSUM’s annual microgravity parabolic flight campaigns, and has completed over 100 parabolas in microgravity to date. Dr. Pandya is also the lead instructor forProject PoSSUM’s EVA 102: Space and Wilderness Medicine course. As part of Project PoSSUM, she also completed hypobaric hypoxia training, centrifuge studies, aerobatic flight, basic and advanced emergency spacecraft egress and sea survival training, and high altitude noctilucent cloud research. Dr. Pandya also completed a 2-week tour at the Mars Desert Research Station analog in Utah as the Crew Health and Safety Officer. She has recently been named as an ambassador for the PoSSUM 13, an initiative to make space opportunities and engagement more accessible to students, particularly girls and young women. She also serves as the Chair of Strategic Development for this initiative. Dr. Pandya will be attaining her aquanaut designation with a mission to the Jules Verne Underwater Lodge later this year and successfully completed the World Extreme Medicine Hyperbaric and Dive Medicine Course at Florida International University’s Aquarius Reef Base, where NASA NEEMO missions take place, attaining her Dive Medical Technician designation in the process. Her adventures and experiences were recently captured in the Land Rover short, released with the Apollo 11: First Steps film.
In her spare time, Dr. Pandya practices Taekwondo (as a second-degree black belt) and Muay Thai. She is currently working towards her private pilot’s license and holds her accelerated free fall solo skydiving license and numerous SCUBA diving certifications. Dr. Pandya also sings and plays the piano.
Yan-Erik is an entrepreneur, speaker and coach, engaged in the movement of exponential transformation of organizations.
His learning journey explores mathematics, business, mental preparation techniques, hypnosis and meditation, methods of social innovation and emergence such as Theory U, radical innovation, exponential thinking, and organizational transformation.
He has been working internationally for 20 years and has dedicated the last 10 years to support teams in exponential innovation for financial, industrial, corporate and start-up groups. Its mission is to acculturate the leaders and their teams to the exponential model then to accompany them towards the change, the adaptation to their future.
"My favorite moment is when the system reveals its true complexity and the teams become aware of the future that emerges from it."