PoSSUM 13 Members

The PoSSUM 13 Ambassadors

Karen Brun

Karen grew up on the island of Trinidad and Tobago and later moved to the US. She served in the U.S. Air Force, specializing in aviation and air mobility operations. She has earned 3 associates degrees, a bachelors degree in Applied Science and Technology and is currently working on her graduate degree in Unmanned Systems - Space Concentration at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Karen is also an FAA licensed pilot with 5 additional ratings. She joined Project PoSSUM in 2016 and has continued her passion for space by being selected for the NASA HERA Program and a NASA internship. Karen hopes to inspire generations of learners about aviation and space exploration, and how they too can become a part of it by becoming involved in STEM programs early. Passion overcomes setbacks ...just stay the course because there is no timeline, only perseverance.

Alyssa Carson
Social Media

Ever since Alyssa was a little girl, she had her heart set on the stars. At just 17 years old, she is a graduate of Advanced Space Academy, National Flight Academy, VA Flight Academy, Cosmosphere, & Euro Space Academy. In October of 2016, she was the youngest to be accepted and graduate the Advanced PoSSUM Academy. She has received her applied astronautics degree through her involvement with Project PoSSUM. In 2018, she was one of five women chosen to complete geology training in Iceland. Alyssa also enjoys traveling the world speaking to kids and adults about the importance of STEM reaching 22 countries so far. She speaks 4 languages including English, French, Spanish, and Chinese. Her ultimate goal is become an astronaut one day and be apart of a mission to Mars.

Bethany Downer

Bethany works in the domains of public outreach and communications for the space industry and is a scientist-astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere). Born and raised on the island of Newfoundland in eastern Canada, she now works worldwide for various space organizations, including agencies, start-up companies and universities, to communicate specific missions as well as scientific and technical developments to broader audiences for general comprehension and engagement through the company she founded, Reaching Space Science. She holds degrees in geography (BSc, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada) and space studies (MSc, International Space University, France), the later of which included an internship in the communications department at the European Space Agency. In 2018, she joined the secretariat of the IAU100 - the centennial anniversary celebrations of the International Astronomical Union - as a communications officer. She also served as the coordinator of the 100 Hours of Astronomy in January 2019 and will be coordinating the IAU100’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing in July 2019. Bethany also currently works as the Public Information officer for ESA/Hubble, through which she manages the public outreach for the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope on spacetelescope.org. Bethany volunteers as the communications and public relations coordinator for the Space Generation Advisory Council. In 2018, Bethany became the youngest recipient of Memorial University’s Horizon Alumni Award and she has also been named one of the Top 35 Under 35 in Space by the International Institute of Space Commerce. She was listed in 2017 as one of Canada's Top 30 Leaders and Innovators Under 30 by The Bay Street Bull and one of the country’s Top 30 Under 30 by Corporate Knights in 2016.

Carmen Felix
Knowledge Management

Carmen is a citizen-scientist astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM, engineer, public speaker, diver and first aid responder. She studied electronics and telecommunications at ITESM, and a master in Space Science at the International Space University, in France. In 2010, she worked at NASA Ames focusing on Small Satellites, and at the same time, she started collaboration programs between Mexico and Ames to give Mexican students the opportunity to do internships and summer programs in this center. Carmen contributed as one of the space experts during the creation of the Mexican Space Agency. She is a long-time member of the Space Generation Advisory Council, an organization in support of the UN space applications program, where she has been leading multiple initiatives. Carmen is an expert on Mars Analogue Missions and had run simulations in Austria, Spain, US, the Netherlands and Poland. Carmen was the first Mexican to graduate from the PoSSUM, performing acrobatic flights, spacesuit testing, space capsule egress and emergency procedures, open water survival and hypobaric hypoxia training. She participated in the most recent PoSSUM microgravity parabolic flight campaign testing MIT experiments, commercial spacesuits, and a biomedical vest that has flown in the ISS. Carmen lives in the Netherlands and is member of different government and private groups focused to promote STEM careers for girls. She has been featured in national and international TV news, radio programs, newspapers, and received multiple awards.

Kellie Gerardi

Kellie Gerardi is an aerospace and defense strategist who has supported a number of commercial spaceflight companies, NGO's, and government agencies to accelerate and communicate the progress of the commercial spaceflight industry. Kellie leads Special Projects for the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and serves on the Defense Council of the Truman National Security Project. She previously served as the Program Manager for a DARPA workshop series focused on the Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) Program and led Business Development for Masten Space Systems. A popular science and technology communicator, Kellie has appeared across a broad range of television and print media. She is an active member of The Explorers Club and has participated in a number of scientific expeditions, including an analog crew rotation at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS). Kellie is a Scientist-Astronaut Candidate with Project PoSSUM and has participated in multiple citizen science campaigns, including microgravity research flights in which she alternated roles as a Suited Test Subject and Bio-Medical Monitor.  Kellie is a mom to a one-year-old daughter named Delta V, and is a dedicated mentor to women in STEM. She is committed to improving diversity and representation in the space and technology sectors.

Shayla Redmond
Education Coordinator

Shayla K. Redmond served as an Air Battle Manager for seven and a half years, at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. She received Bachelor of Science degrees in Aerospace Engineering and Physics from Tuskegee University and a Masters of Science Degree in Systems Engineering with a concentration in Space Systems from the Air Force Institute of Technology. Completing a Thesis on “Conceptual Architecture System to Measure the Effects of Subauroral Polarization Streams on Radar Operations”. For the past six years Shayla has been a volunteer educator for schools and different organizations. She is apart of the National STEM Academy for Georgia where she participates in professional development for teachers and volunteers year round to support educating people of all ages. Shayla balances between being a mother of two and an active advocate of STEAM( Science Technology Engineering Arts and Mathematics) developing events that incorporate the “ARTS” in the sciences. She looks forward to continuing her knowledge in research and the testing field of the upper atmosphere and beyond.

Yvette Gonzalez

Yvette is a Human Resilience expert, Astropreneur, and Scientist-Astronaut Candidate. With 20 years of Development/Emergency Response experience rebuilding communities in active war, conflict, natural disasters, and epidemiological outbreaks, she adapts her skills to focus on Human Factors in space technology, flight, and experience.   Most notably the physiological and anthropological effects of long term flight missions and space habitation. Her transitional career is an example of the possibility of commercial and private sector space flight opportunity for all generations. Yvette aims to be one of many future Native Americans to conduct research in sub-orbit, orbit, and the moon and supports space settlement education, science, technological efforts, missions, and policy dialogue. Yvette is an active member of Project PoSSUM citizen science campaigns. Thanks to her PoSSUM peers, she is now a member of the Association of Spaceflight professionals.  She simultaneously trains with the citizen-science Austrian Space Forum (OeWF) in analog mission preparation and is supporting the International Lunar Exploratory Working Group’s (a public forum sponsored by the world's space agencies to support international cooperation towards a world strategy for the exploration and utilization of the Moon) EuroMoonMars team’s Lunar Analog and science efforts.   With EuroMoonMars she also contributes to Lunar science conducted with European Space Agency ESA_LAB@ Interuniversity demonstrator project, IgLuna, an Ice Habitat.  With a Woman-Owned, Minority-Owned, HubZone small business, Yvette continues to conduct humanitarian missions in complex contexts and is eligible for private as well as aerospace, aviation, and space-related contracts and research projects.  While she pursues her Bioastronautics Certificate with Project PoSSUM, Yvette holds a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University focusing on Forced Migration and the Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS, a Bachelors in Multinational National Organization Studies & French from St. Mary’s University in Texas, and her Deuxième and Troisième Degrés from the Université des Sciences Humaines de Strasbourg (USHS) in Strasbourg, France. She is a classically trained soprano, and avid scuba diver.

Heidi Hammerstein
Research and Support

Heidi is a bi-lingual, multi-degreed, published scientist and engineer with a BS in aerospace engineering (Cal Poly ’91) and 16 years of aerospace engineering R&D, certification flight test, and project management experience.  Heidi has worked for six different aerospace entities including Gulfstream Aerospace, Boeing, NASA, McDonnell-Douglas, Grob Luft und Raumfahrt, and the United States Air Force. Heidi holds research- based MS degrees in molecular biology (UNT ’04) and environmental engineering (Georgia Tech ‘13), and worked at Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, focusing on biomolecular protocol, and laboratory development for space and planetary-based life-exploration research. A licensed pilot, skydiver, and advanced open water scuba diver, Heidi is a space and planetary exploration enthusiast with a passion for the advancement of the commercial space industry. Heidi is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, and President of the Zonta Club of Savannah, a UN-NGO dedicated to advancing the status of women through service and advocacy.

Ulyana Horodyskyj

In October 2015, Ulyana graduated from Project PoSSUM and since then has taken part in microgravity tests of Final Frontier Design commercial spacesuits with the National Research Council in Canada (2015) and Zero-G Corps/NASA Flight Opportunities Program (2017). In September 2016, she was chosen to command NASA HERA XII (human exploration research analog), a 30-day experiment that studied the effects of stress and isolation for future long-duration space missions. Ulyana was selected as one of 120 semifinalists (out of 18,354 applicants) for NASA's 2017 astronaut class. Ulyana is the founder and owner of Science in the Wild, an adventure citizen science company that leads immersive and educational experiences in the mountains around the world. She is also a visiting assistant professor at Colorado College, teaching courses on climate and the environment. In January 2019, Men's Journal named her one of the "world's most adventurous women."

Shawna Pandya
Strategic Development

Dr. Shawna Pandya is a citizen-scientist astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM, physician-surgeon, speaker, martial artist, advanced diver, skydiver and pilot-in-training. She holds degrees in Honors Neuroscience (BSc Hons. Neuroscience, University of Alberta), space (MSc Space Studies, International Space University), entrepreneurship (Graduate Studies Program, Singularity University) and medicine (MD, University of Alberta), and is currently completing concurrent fellowships in Wilderness Medicine (Academy of Wilderness Medicine) and Enhanced Surgical Skills (University of Saskatchewan). Dr. Pandya was appointed course instructor for Project PoSSUM’s EVA 101: Space and Wilderness Medicine, which ran its first iteration in Colorado in September 2017. Prior to this, Dr. Pandya successfully completed Scientist-Astronaut Candidate training with Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) and was on the first crew to test a commercial spacesuit in zero-gravity, and has continued to tests commercial spacesuits with Project PoSSUM’s annual microgravity parabolic flight campaigns. As part of Project PoSSUM, she also completed slow onset hypobaric hypoxia training, centrifuge studies, aerobatic flight, basic and advanced emergency spacecraft egress and sea survival training. In 2016, Dr. Pandya was appointed as the Life Sciences Team Lead for Association of Spaceflight professionals (formerly Astronauts4Hire), and has undertaken to further her team’s experience and skills in developing research, technology and payloads related to space medicine and life sciences. Dr. Pandya’s research interests center on resilience and performance in extreme environments, as well as reproduction in long-duration spaceflight. Her published works include articles on neurosurgical robotics, and book chapters on space technology spin-offs benefitting every day medicine on Earth, resilience in long-duration spaceflight and reproduction in long-duration spaceflight. In her spare time, Dr. Pandya practices Taekwondo (as a second degree black belt) and Muay Thai. She has travelled to Thailand annually since 2015 to train in Muay Thai fight camps. In 2016, she competed at the International Taekwondo Federation’s World Cup in Taekwondo, and in 2017, she fought in (and won) her first amateur Muay Thai fight in Thailand. She is currently working towards her private pilot’s license, and holds her accelerated free fall solo skydiving and numerous SCUBA diving certifications. Dr. Pandya also sings and plays the piano.

Norah Patten

Dr. Norah Patten is a faculty member at the International Space University and is a scientist-astronaut candidate with Project PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere). She is an experienced communicator and has featured on national television, radio, and other media. Award winning and purpose driven, Norah is a staunch STEM (Science, technology, engineering and math) advocate and ambassador. Norah was a recipient of the Emerging Space Leaders Grant and a Next Generation Plenary panellist at the International Astronautical Congress in 2015. Through a partnership with NanoRacks, Norah initiated and managed ‘The Only Way is Up’ project which launched Ireland’s first student experiment to the International Space Station in 2014. Norah has industrial experience from The Boeing Company and Bell Labs Alcatel Lucent, holds a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering and is determined to be Ireland's first person in space.  

Amy Ramos

Amy Ramos is a current Mechanical Engineering student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL, USA. Upon graduating in May of 2019, Amy hopes to fulfill her military career as an Officer in the Navy. Amy has participated in many citizen-science campaigns such as Microgravity Spacesuit Evaluations at the CNRC in Ottawa, ON, CA, Aerospace Tomography Campaigns that involved collecting research from the most remote parts of High Level, AB, CA, via a modified Mooney research jet and a remote ground location. Along with a Sea Survival and egress course at Survival Systems USA located in CT, USA, Amy was on the inaugural team of 12 that performed egress testing on a full scale mock Orion Space Capsule in spacesuit.

Yajaira Sierra-Sastre
Science Coordinator

Dr. Yajaira Sierra-Sastre is a materials scientist with more than fifteen years of R&D experience in academia, start-up companies, and the U.S. federal government. Yajaira holds a BS degree from the University of Puerto Rico and a PhD in Nanomaterials Chemistry from Cornell University.  A teacher-turned scientist, she is extremely passionate about STEM education and has collaborated with numerous organizations for the execution of citizen-science initiatives in The Americas.  Her most recent project involved flying a student CubeSat experiment on board the Airbus' Perlan II. In 2013, Yajaira served as the Chief Science Officer for the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, a four-month-long Mars analog mission funded by NASA.  Yajaira has been a highly qualified applicant for the NASA Astronaut Candidate Program and is the co-founder and CEO of Science In Space, a general partnership to further advance R&D and sustainable technologies for outer space and planet Earth.  Her works in nanotechnology, educational outreach, and her aspirations to become the first Puerto Rican woman to fly to space have been featured in many media outlets.