PoSSUM 13 Members

The PoSSUM 13 Ambassadors

Bailey Burns
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador, Social Media Coordinator

Bailey Burns was born and raised in Colorado, USA and is a member of the PoSSUM 1902 class. Ms. Burns’ unquenchable curiosity and desire to understand the world around her drove her to perform preliminary research in optimizing chemiluminescence activity and to graduate high school with an International Baccalaureate Diploma. She then graduated from the Colorado School of Mines with her BS degree in Mechanical Engineering and a minor in Economics and Business. Ms. Burns is currently pursuing her Master’s in Space Resources at Mines. 

Bailey interned for two summers with HoneyBee Robotics where she worked on mechanism components for space programs such as the gearbox and clutch for the side hatch on the Orion capsule and drive actuator production on the OneWeb satellite design. This time solidified her interest in the aerospace industry. She currently works for Raytheon as a Systems Engineer in Space Situational Awareness supporting NORAD and NORTHCOM. Bailey discovered her passion for the non-technical side of STEM after college and is an innovation advocate and aspiring public speaker, specifically to K-12 and college students. She has also spoken at The Neutral Buoyancy Lab at NASA Johnson and on behalf of the Smithsonian for Apollo 11: Go for the Moon. She aims to show the importance of space as well as the emotional and personal side of STEM. Ms. Burns has developed a personal platform, A Space Story, to do this under where she aims to give a voice to every space story. Ms. Burns also is a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo.
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Aidyl Gonzalez-Serricchio
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador, STEM Coordinator

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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Bethany Downer
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador, Newsletter Coordinator

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.
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Shayla Redmond
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador, 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.

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Yvette Gonzalez
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

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.
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Shawna Pandya
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador, 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.
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Jupiter Jones
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Jupiter Jones was born and raised in rural Canada until the age of 18 when she decided to move to Toronto to pursue her education and passion for science. Currently, Jupiter is attending York University working towards her degree in Theoretical Astrophysics with aspirations to earn her Ph.D. Aside from formal education, Jupiter wanted to get more hands-on experience  - volunteering at the Allen I. Carswell Astronomical Observatory, becoming a PoSSUM 1902 Advanced Academy alumni and receiving her pilots’ license.

Ms. Jones first got her passion for science at a young age while watching Carl Sagan, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Bryan Greene, Bill Nye, and her older brother Maric, among others. At a very young age, Jupiter realized as much as she loved science and the wonders of space there weren’t many female role models front and center. Jupiter Jones decided to take her love for science further by becoming a science communicator with a strong focus on Women In STEM and female-identifying representation.  Jupiter has amassed a large following of 200,000+ across her socials from fellow STEM enthusiasts and science communicators. She is also a part of the IIAC’s Out Astronaut, a program addressing the underrepresentation of the LGBTQ2S+ community in STEM fields. With dreams of discovering a ToE (hypothetical framework explaining all known physical phenomena in the universe), Jupiter also hopes to one day be a Mars resident.
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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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Katya Echazarreta
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Katya Echazarreta was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. She was raised in San Diego where from a very young age she became fascinated by the night sky. As a child, she drew her own maps of the constellations and the stars by observing them night after night. She made up her mind to work for NASA at only 7 years old.

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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Sian Proctor
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador

Dr. Proctor is a geoscientist, explorer, and science communication expert with a passion for space exploration. She’s an analog astronaut and has completed four analog missions including the all-female Sensoria Mars 2020 mission at the Hawai’i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Habitat and a NASA funded 4-months Mars mission at HI-SEAS. She believes that solving for space actually solves issues on Earth. She has a TEDx talk called Eat Like a Martian and published the Meals for Mars Cookbook. She is a continuing Solar System Ambassador and serves on the National Science Teaching Association’s Aerospace advisory board, the JustSpace Alliance board, and the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) USA advisory board. In 2019, she was the science communication outreach officer on the JOIDES Resolution Expedition 383. She was a 2017 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Teacher at Sea, a 2016 Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador (ACEAP), and a 2014 PolarTREC Teacher.

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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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Yajaira Sierra-Sastre
PoSSUM 13 Ambassador, Chair

Dr. Yajaira Sierra-Sastre is a materials scientist and informal science educator 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.  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 aspires to become the first Puerto Rican woman to fly to space.

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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.