PoSSUM 13 Members

The PoSSUM 13 Ambassadors

Elizabeth Balga
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Elizabeth Balga is a Mission Integration, Operations, and Test Engineer on Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner. During Starliner test flights and missions, she supports field operations as the Hatch and Spacecraft Operator and the Payloads Recovery Lead. Prior to Starliner, she completed multiple internships and rotations with Boeing on the Space Launch System, Ground-based Midcourse Defense System, and the 787. In 2019, she completed Boeing’s Engineering Career Foundations Program.

Elizabeth is involved in leadership roles and outreach projects with numerous professional societies, including the Society of Women Engineers, Space Generation Advisory Council, The Mars Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Women of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences (IIAS). She holds a Bachelors degree in Aerospace Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology (2016), a professional certificate in Architecture and Systems Engineering from MITx (2017), and a Masters degree in Astronautical Engineering from University of Southern California (2020) and, taking a detour from engineering, she is currently pursuing an Emergency Medical Technician certification at Eastern Florida State College. She is also a PADI-Certified Advanced Open Water Diver and enjoys cooking, hiking, kayaking, traveling, volunteering, and learning new hobbies and skills in her free time.
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Kim Ellis
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Ms Kim Gina Ellis is an International Lawyer & Space Research professional with a background in metals, mining and mineral processing in addition to expertise in Space Research, Technology & Law. The Chief Executive Officer and founder of International Earth & Space Technology, a private Australian company https://kimellis.mykajabi.com/ , Kim’s team delivers a range of specialist consultancy services for Universities, Corporate business and Professional Education providers in Europe, the USA and Australia. Kim is a specialist in designing and delivering Lunar, Interplanetary, Space Resource Utilisation, Innovation & International Space Law workshops in collaboration with NASA & ESA and STEM activities for students in the USA & Australia and online technical education programs.

The Discipline co-ordinator for Space Technology at Swinburne University, Kim works in the Space Office for the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing and is also an Adjunct Faculty member of the International Space University. Her thought leadership in academic research related to Space Governance, Law and Space Applications led her to being selected by the World Economic Forum, ESA and MIT to contribute to creating the model for a new Space Sustainability Rating system designed to encourage sustainable behaviour in space and reduce new orbital debris creation. An elected member of the International Institute for Space Law, Kim is an official observer at the United Nations Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space UNCOPUOS, Legal Subcommittee in Vienna, Austria. Ms Ellis serves on a number of advisory boards, review panels and executive committee's related to Aerospace & Technology in Australia, Europe and the United States. These include the American Bar Association Forum of Air and Space Law committee & International Defense & Aerospace Industries group, Universities Space Research Association, NASA Postdoctoral Program and the Monash University Aerospace Industry Advisory Group. As an official observer to the United Nations Hague Space Resource Governance Working Group she contributed to the development of the first Building Blocks for the development of an International Framework on Space Resource Activities. The recipient of an Australian Government Endeavour Executive Fellowship for International Space collaboration and engagement, Kim is regularly invited by International Space Agencies, Australian government and Commercial Space Businesses to speak at conferences and space industry events. Passionate about STEM education and outreach for children and teenagers, Kim is a long term volunteer for the CSIRO STEM professionals in schools program and delivers volunteer workshops building Mars ATV's and Lunar Landers for YMCA summer camps.
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Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador, STEM Coordinator

Dr. Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio joined the International Institute for Astronautical Sciences in 2019. She earned her Doctorate in Molecular Genetics at California Institute of Technology, then continued her post-doctoral work on myotonic dystrophy at the Institute of Genetic Medicine at the University of California.   She mentors high school and middle school students and helps families with different learners through a non-profit organization she co-founded and co-directs called the Gift over Learning Differences Initiative (GoLD Initiative).  In 2020, she was recognized by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Los Angeles Educator for Aspirations in Computing. Dr. Gonzalez was born and raised in the South Bronx, New York, and is a wife, mother, researcher, educator, amateur magician, and Solar System Ambassador.

 Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere Scientist-Astronaut Class 1902, Dr. Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio, earned her Doctorate in Molecular Genetics at California Institute of Technology, then continued her post-doctoral work on myotonic dystrophy at the Institute of Genetic Medicine at the University of California. Dr. Gonzalez later became a co-principal investigator on sperm motility and mitochondrial defects using roundworms as the investigative tool and lecturer. An accident leads her to research pain regulation and nociceptive receptors at the California Institute of Technology using zebrafish as her investigative tool. Dr. Gonzalez continued her science career, mentoring high school and middle school students. She also helps families with different learners through a non-profit organization she co-founded and co-directs called the GoLD Initiative (Gift over Learning Differences Initiative). The foundation's mission is to provide an extensive, holistic educational experience to school-age students by delivering the most entertaining, engaging, fast-moving, and creative aspects of STEAM education through project-based learning for solving real-world science and engineering problems. Dr. Gonzalez was born and raised in the South Bronx, New York, and is a wife, a mother, a researcher, an educator, an amateur magician, and Solar System Ambassador. She currently works at the Buckley School as a Science Educator as well as the STEAM director (K-12th), and Science Department co-Chair (6-12th). In 2017, Dr. Gonzalez won Science Teacher of the Year at the California Science Fair and an award from Latino Thought Makers: Women Who Rule. In 2017, she was interviewed by award-winning comedian and television writer Rick Najera for his podcast show Latino Thought Makers. In October of 2018, she was featured on Ventura Blvd's online magazine: Women We Love. In 2018, Dr. Gonzalez presented at the Research Teachers Conference sponsored by Regeneron in Washington D.C. titled, "STEAM Funding for the iGen's New Science Curriculum: Applied Science Research." In October of 2019 at the Research Teachers Conference, Dr. Gonzalez was selected as a Research Teacher Captain to oversee, and a resource to a cohort of seven teachers as well as a present on scientific research in secondary education. In 2020, Dr. Gonzalez is recognized by the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Los Angeles Educator for Aspirations in Computing.
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@real_dr._ghttps://www.linkedin.com/in/aidyl-gonzalez-serricchio/@aidylsofia
Heidi Hammerstein
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Heidi Hammerstein is a bi-lingual, multi-degreed, published engineer with a BS in aerospace engineering (Cal Poly ’91) and seventeen years of aerospace engineering - R&D, flight test, performance, systems engineering, 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. Also an experienced scientist, Heidi holds research-based MS degrees in molecular biology (UNT ’04) and environmental engineering (Georgia Tech ‘13), focusing on laboratory, and protocol development for biomolecular space and planetary-based research. A licensed pilot and scuba diver, Heidi is a space and planetary exploration enthusiast with a passion for the advancement of the commercial space industry. She is an active scientific member, and astronaut candidate for Project PoSSUM training for suborbital missions to conduct in situ studies of Polar Mesospheric Clouds.

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heidi.hammerstein@projectpossum.org
Rachel Jones
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Rachel developed a love of astronomy at a young age. Growing up on a farm allowed for an amazing view of the night sky.  Unfortunately, a move to the city added a lot of light pollution.  Eventually, RC got her own telescope and learned new ways to study the sky with radio astronomy.  She became a certified amateur radio operator and is currently working to combine optical and radio images of outer space. Rachel joined Project PoSSUM in class 1901. Following her dream, she earned her private pilot’s license and achieved Padi’s Master Scuba Diver’s training to understand the unique challenges and needs of spacesuits. Rachel is building upon a strong background in space science and cybersecurity.  Her current endeavors are founded on an extensive academic background with a BA in Political Science from LaGrange College, an MSc in Space Management from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, and a MA in Intelligence with a cyber focus from the American Military University.  Currently, RC is pursuing a BS in Computer Networks and Cybersecurity from the University of Maryland Global Campus.

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Morgan Kainu
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Morgan Kainu graduated with her BA in Anthropology from the University of North Texas (UNT) in 2019 and is a certified Applied Anthropologist. She is a veteran analog astronaut of four missions and has held roles as Crew Health and Safety Officer, Lead Flight Director for Remote Mission Support, Commander, Journalist, Geologist/Scientist, and Ethnographer by way of Mars Academy USA/AvatarMedic and the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS).

Morgan’s other involvement in the space community includes her completed role as 2020 Chair for Students for the Exploration and Development of Space’s (SEDS USA) annual conference SpaceVision, where she worked alongside SEDS USA Board and Staff and space industry leaders and professionals, and acting President of the UNT SEDS USA Chapter from 2017-2019. During her collegiate experience, Morgan also conducted UX design research for the National Association of Applied Anthropology (NAPA) for the redesign of their website and was able to present her research at the annual Society for Applied Anthropologists (SfAA) Conference in Portland, Oregon in March 2019. In continuation of education, she is currently attending the Advanced PoSSUM Space Academy as a part of class 2001. In the future, she plans to pursue a Masters degree or PhD to continue learning about Applied Anthropology, space architecture and human factors, and how they can assist in solving complex problems for deep space missions and habitat design. During and after her educational career, Morgan hopes to work closely with aerospace and space agencies on developing habitats and other astronaut facilities by understanding the human perspective of those who will be utilizing them on long-duration missions to Mars and beyond
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Megan Kane
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Megan Kane decided she was bound for Mars as a teen. Her life is dedicated to learning skills and honing abilities she will need for a life on Mars. In addition to her Masters of Science from the International Space University she has worked with the International Space Safety foundation, Madam Mars, Spire Global, Mars One, the Mars Desert Research Station, NASA’s HERA research project, and Project Possum to name a few. From a young age she has worked to encourage others to pursue their dreams and goals around the world first through 4-H where she was a youth leader. then as an adult 4-H leader and assistant scoutmaster for Boyscouts, and later as a Peace Corps Volunteer in sub-Saharan Africa. Recently she started her own podcast, Megan2Mars, to share her love for and knowledge of space. She is excited to be a 2021 Possum 13 Ambassador.  

She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2019. During her senior year at UCLA she interned at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she designed several Printed Circuit Boards for the test equipment used on the electronics of several spacecraft. She was offered a full-time Electrical Engineering position upon graduation and is now working for the Europa Clipper mission. She works in the hardware group in charge of building the ground support equipment for the Europa Clipper spacecraft. She is very involved in STEM outreach programs such as MESA and regularly holds talks for university clubs and K-12 schools to promote inclusivity and a STEM education for minorities and women.
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katechazarreta.comhttps://ca.linkedin.com/in/kat_echz
Catherine Knipe
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Catherine’s interest in aviation and space flight started in childhood. She went to Cape Canaveral for this first time when she was 8. She has been a pilot for over 30 years. She holds a H. BSc. and MSc from the University of Guelph focused on human biology and then muscle biology. Further doctoral work was completed in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Iowa State University. Her early career was a series of leadership roles in health care, from public health, regional health delivery and finishing in an advisory role to the provincial Minister of Health. Building on her expertise in data management and technology she transitioned to a professional services technology consultancy eventually becoming the CIO of a large academic hospital. She currently owns a consultancy focused on global technology implementations.

Catherine’s other interest is governance opportunities for women and currently serves on the Milton Hydro Distribution board and the Georgian Bay Club Foundation. Previous boards have included serving on the Greater Toronto Airports Authority during the build of terminal 1, the Senate at the University of Guelph and the Brantford Airport Commission. Her interest in governance is focused on board evaluation and improvement. Travelling, scuba diving, flying, golfing, horse-back riding and skiing are her main hobbies. She served on the Canadian Ski Patrol for 20 years.
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Starr Schroeder
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Starr Schroeder graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She is currently a Registered Nurse citizen-scientist. She graduated Project PoSSUM Advanced Academy in 2018. Starr is a member of the Association of Spaceflight Professionals where she is co-lead for research involving medical guidelines in commercial space flight participants. Her team presented “Medical Guidelines for Commercial Space Flight: A Review” at the International Astronautical Congress in October 2019. Additionally, she is a member of the Aerospace Medical Association, National Space Society and the Moon Village Association. She is a Master’s candidate in Human Factors in Aerospace at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Her publications include chapters on Spaceflight Nutritional Support, Future Trends in Spacesuits, as well as The Lunar Environment (in review). Starr is involved in multiple collaborations including research related to ECG changes during parabolic flight. Her goal is to incorporate her experience in medicine into her love for space by assisting the development of space medicine in current and future space exploration. Her outreach focus aims to bring STEM opportunities to students in under-served and urban areas.

Aimee Valliere
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Aimee Valliere is currently a student at the University of Arizona, studying GIS, Computer Science, and Aeronautics. She is also a STEM educator and science communicator, having taught at the Space Foundation in Colorado Springs, CO, Space Camp in Huntsville, AL, and The Mcauliffe-Shepard Discovery Center in Concord, NH. She enjoys sharing her knowledge of space, science, and other STEM topics, and encouraging students, especially young women, to become more involved in STEM.

Aimee is a graduate of Project PoSSUM’s Advanced PoSSUM Academy and has also participated in other PoSSUM Programs including Spacecraft Egress and Rescue Operations, Space Suit Post-Landing operations, and Microgravity Spacesuit Evaluation since joining the organization in 2018. Aimee is also a Ham Radio Technician, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, and is pursuing her private pilot license with the intention of acquiring commercial license. She also has experience working with CAD modeling programs, and 3D printing technologies. When not studying or working, Aimee also enjoys volunteering with animals, photography, drawing, and going out to explore nature with her two dogs, Sagan and Hubble.
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