Current ISTP Students

Jay AlverJAMES ALVER is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from Harvard College in 2015, concentrating in Government with a secondary in Earth and Planetary Sciences. James has experience in space policy through work at the National Academy of Sciences, the Aerospace Industries Association, and International Technology and Trade Associates, where he has participated in projects related to CubeSat policy, Earth observations, national security space, space technology, and other topics. His primary policy interests relate to non-government activity beyond Earth orbit and the role of governments in regulating and enabling such activities.


Aimee BarretoAIMEE BARRETO is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Most recently, Aimee managed the government contractor workforce in the Code 541 Materials Engineering Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, MD. She has held diverse positions in Task Management, Business Development, Procurement, Quality Assurance and Human Resources Management working for various government contractors supporting NASA GSFC. Aimee holds a Master of Science in Government Contracts from The George Washington University, Master of Business Administration from Syracuse University and Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Syracuse University. Her interests include financial management, U.S. space policy, project management, and technology transfer/export control issues. Her research interests are focused on trending topics: civil and commercial space partnerships, military space weapons, and international space competitiveness.


BRENDAN BORDELON is a first-year graduate student at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy. Brendan graduated from the University of California at Riverside in 2012 with a B.A. in international relations, and has lived and worked as a journalist in Washington D.C. ever since. He covered politics for several years, including a stint at National Review, until the silliness of the 2016 presidential election drove him to take up policy reporting. For the last two years he’s covered technology and cybersecurity policy for National Journal, focusing on Capitol Hill along with activity at the FTC, FCC and other federal agencies. Brendan’s research interests include space policy, data privacy, international technology transfer, election security and infrastructure cybersecurity. He also recognizes that he should narrow down that list of interests sooner or later. Brendan loves old maps and history, and enjoys hiking in the Shenandoah foothills and traveling overseas whenever possible.


Jake CooperJAKE COOPER is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Jake recently graduated with a B.A. in Political Science from Humboldt State University in Northern California. During his time as an undergraduate at Humboldt State, he decided to study topics in space policy, space exploration, and diplomacy. During Jake’s final semester he interned at the local office of a California State Senator. In this role, he worked and focused on a range of constituent affairs. Jake’s research and policy interests include space exploration, resource extraction, development, and diplomacy.



Rita Didkan

RITA DIDKAN is a second-year graduate student at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy. She moved to DC in May 2016 to join GWU as a Sponsored Projects Administrator in the Office of the Vice-President for Research (OVPR). She has a Masters degree in sociology from Saint-Joseph University of Beirut where she was a junior lecturer and coordinator of research projects and grants and where she was undergoing a Ph.D. thesis on highly skilled Lebanese migration that she put on hold as too many exciting things were happening in her life. She is fluent in English, French, Arabic, and is currently learning Spanish. In her free time, she enjoys discovering Washington DC on her electric bike.


 Cheikh FayeCHEIKH FAYE is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He recently graduated from the University of Georgia (May 2018) with a BA in International Relations. He was a recipient of the Richard B. Russell Security Leadership Program(SLP) at the UGA’s Center for International Trade and Security. The SLP is a yearlong program focused on national security, nonproliferation and international conflict management. Prior to UGA, he completed a BA in Geography from the Gaston Berger University in Senegal. Cheikh is interested in global space cooperation, new space technologies and export control issues as well as the economic impact of space programs for developing countries. In his free time I like to play soccer, read history books, and watch TV.


 Taylor FrankTAYLOR FRANK  is a first-year graduate student at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy.  He is a leader in the critical Internet resource, online brand protection, digital transaction, Internet policy, and domain-related cybersecurity fields. He has over ten years of experience within the cyber ecosystem, and has helped to build several industry-leading advisory firms. Taylor currently serves as Vice President of FairWinds Partners, DigitalDNA, and Kalorama Group.  A senior leader in all three roles, Taylor is responsible for major client management, new ventures, corporate strategy, and business development.  He has spent the past decade helping marketing, legal, and technology executives from a broad portfolio of clients across the technology, financial, retail, health, media, and luxury industries create value and reduce costs; protect brands and consumers online; build new digital business models; and transact complex and intangible assets.  He is also an active participant within the global Internet governance community. Taylor is currently pursuing an MBA from The Wharton School and the professional designation of Certified Cybersecurity Leader from Carnegie Mellon University. Mr. Frank grew up in Pasadena, California and is a graduate of Georgetown University.  He was a member of Georgetown’s varsity rowing team, continues to participate in elite rowing competitions, and is a two-time Ironman All World Gold athlete.

DREW GARdrew garzaZA is a  second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute.  He is a combat veteran with ten years of active duty with the US Army, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as multiple tours around the world for disaster relief and mission support.  He graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Space Studies from American Military University.  In his time at GWU, he hopes to focus his studies on international cooperative space policies that support US defense and national security strategies.  Drew currently works as a Program Manager for the Department of Defense, and he is also very active as a STEM advocate and volunteer, contributing time and expertise to the groups like the Planetary Society and Explore Mars, as well as providing community outreach efforts for the US Science and Engineering Festival.


John GuyJOHN GUY is a first-year graduate student at the Institute for International Science & Technology Policy. John graduated from Florida State University in 2012 with a B.S. in Social Science. He has been at Biotechnology Innovation Organization for 3 years, working on domestic and international tax and financial services issues for small and emerging biotechnology companies, both private and public. At GWU, John hopes to focus on economic issues that affect high-tech based companies and develop policies that will spur the growth of innovative, R&D-focused industries.



MARISSA HERRON is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Most recently, Marissa managed the Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis Operations (CARA) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She previously supported human spaceflight operations for the Space Shuttle and Soyuz missions at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Marissa holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Arizona, a M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and a M.S. in Remote Sensing from the Naval Postgraduate School.

CINDY HUANG is a second-year graduate student at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy.  She received a B.A. in Journalism from The Pennsylvania State University and commissioned in the U.S. Army.  In 2009, she left the Army to pursue a career in environmental policy and currently works at the Environmental Protection Agency as a program analyst for climate and transportation programs.  She is interested in combining her experiences in environmental policy and military operations to reduce the impacts of climate change as a threat multiplier to national security.

Alexander KaltenbornALEXANDER KALTENBORN is a first-year graduate student in the International Science and Technology Policy certificate program. He is currently in his third year of his Ph.D. program, which is primarily conducted at the Physics and Astronomy Department at GWU with residencies at Los Alamos National Laboratory. He graduated from the University of Tennessee Knoxville with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics before completing a Master’s of Science in Theoretical Astrophysics from the University of Wroclaw, Poland. During this time, he attended international workshops and conferences, as well as working at the Russian Joint Institute for Nuclear Research. Alexander’s current work is in computational modeling of compact mergers and observations of gravitational waves.


Cody KnipferCODY KNIPFER is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from McDaniel College in 2015 with a B.A. in Political Science and International Affairs, where he focused on Asia-Pacific affairs and on the domestic and international politics of space. Cody currently works in the U.S. House of Representatives and has experience working with several aerospace trade associations, including the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and Aerospace Industries Association, and at a space and technology policy consultancy. Cody has also volunteered with a number of space non-profits, such as the Space Frontier Foundation and the Space Generation Advisory Council. His research and policy interests include public-private partnerships in the space industry, the evolution of national security space applications, and the use of space activities as an element of geopolitical strategy.


JONATHAN KNELLER is a first-year graduate student at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy. Jonathan graduated with a B.Sc. in Finance from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland. Jonathan has spent the last seven years working in the financial services sector for the bank, Morgan Stanley. He left his last position at the company in July 2017, and has spent this past year volunteering, studying, and traveling – predominantly in India and Russia. Spending most of his time in Moscow, he has begun studying the Russian Language.

Renata Knittel KommelRENATA KNITTEL KOMMEL is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She graduated from PUC University of São Paulo in Brazil with a B.A. in International Affairs. She held an internship with the Brazilian Mission to the United Nations and represented a Brazilian NGO at COP21 in Paris. She is interested in space policy, as well as its intersection with environmental policy, particularly the ways in which satellites are being used to monitor climate change indicators.



Mohammad KushanMOHAMMAD KUSHAN is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2008 with a bachelors degree in Political Science. He has worked for the Federal Aviation Administration for over eight years as an Oceanic Air Traffic Controller and more recently in Air Traffic Procedures. Currently, he works on procedures for integrating commercial space operations into the national airspace system. He enjoys playing basketball in his free time.



GEORGE VLADIMIR LEAUA is a recent graduate of International Affairs at the Elliott School of International Affairs (2018). As a Romanian international student, his main areas of focus during his undergraduate studies have been European and Eurasian international politics and security, political philosophy, and during his senior year space policy and astronomy. His experience has been shaped by several internships on both the European and North American continents. He first interned at the Romanian Competition Council in the economic analysis department (2015), then he was a policy intern in the International Trade and Investment department of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris (2016). Following that, he volunteered for the Romanian Embassy in Washington DC (2017) and took on a position of advisor at the Permanent Mission of Romania to the United Nations, focusing on disarmament, security, global politics and space affairs (2018). Currently, his research interests include the ethics of space exploration and space commerce, space law, and international cooperation between European states and the United States on new emerging technologies.


Kathy LiMANYI (KATHY) LI is a first-year graduate student at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy. She graduated from the Beijing Foreign Studies University in 2016 with a B.A. in English Literature and is currently finishing her first year MA program in International Law at the same university. Currently, she is interested in how technology can eliminate poverty, increase global connectivity, and promote fair business practices in developing countries.



Ethan ManiscalcoETHAN MANISCALCO is first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He recently graduated Cum Laude from George Washington University with a B.A. in International Affairs, concentrating on international economics and Mandarin Chinese. During his undergraduate studies, Ethan interned for both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and his Congressman from Tennessee. His interests include Chinese space policy, the militarization of space, and space cybersecurity. In his free time, Ethan enjoys watching movies, reading, and improving his chess game.



Chris MayCHRISTOPHER MAY is a second-year graduate student pursuing a master’s degree at the Space Policy Institute. Previously he graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a B.S. and an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering where he also obtained a minor in International Affairs and during his master’s concentrated in Systems Engineering. Chris currently works at The Aerospace Corp. where he has contributed to projects for NASA, the Air Force, and other aerospace-related customers. Throughout his life, Chris has been interested in the intersection of science, history, and policy-making. His primary policy interests lay in human spaceflight, especially regarding international cooperation to pursue further solar system exploration.


Gwen MazzottaGWEN MAZZOTTA is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute, where she also works as the SPI Staff Assistant. Gwen graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Commercial Space Operations from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2015. Previously, she has interned at the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation in the Space Transportation Development Division (AST-100) and at the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs in the Committee, Policy and Legal Affairs (CPLA) Section during the Committee On the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) cycle in 2016.



ALINE MCNAULL is a second-year graduate student at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy. She is a legislative representative for IEEE-USA.  In this position, she focuses on energy, nuclear, aerospace, and research & development policy and works with the broader science and engineering policy community through the Task Force on American Innovation, Energy Sciences Coalition, AAAS, STEM Education Coalition, and Coalition for National Science Funding.  She engages with IEEE members throughout the US and works with Congress and the federal science and engineering agencies to influence legislation, policy, and regulations.  Prior to IEEE-USA, Aline was a policy associate at the American Institute of Physics where she focused on STEM education and research policy.  Aline began her career as a multidisciplinary engineer in semiconductor development at Raytheon and as a patent examiner for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in the optics division.  She holds Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Bryn Mawr College.

JOHN O’DONNELL is a first-year graduate student in the International Science and Technology Policy certificate program. He received a Master’s Degree in Astronautical Engineering from the University of Maryland and in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins SAIS. He is originally from the DC area, and currently works in the Pentagon on space policy. Prior to the Pentagon, John worked at NASA.  He also served in the Air Reserves for 10 years and Army National Guard before that.



Alissa PerriALISSA PERRI is a first-year graduate student working towards a certificate in Nuclear Policy and a certificate in International Science and Technology. During her programs, she looks forward to applying these two certificates towards a Master of Arts in Security Policy and obtain all three programs upon graduation in 2022. She graduated from Seton Hall University, School of Diplomacy and International Relations in 2017 with a B.S. in Diplomacy and International Relations. During her undergraduate career, she held a diplomatic position for the Permanent Observer Mission the Holy See to the United Nations, where she wrote reports on Security Council, General Assembly, and Fourth Committee meetings. She also held the position of Campus Leader for the ONE Campaign, based on eliminating global extreme poverty. For the past year, she has been a Data Review Steward at iCIMS, working with the Enterprise Technology department as well as representing the United States at the United Nations, Youth for Human Rights. At GWU, she hopes to focus on intelligence and weapons of mass destruction.

Ashley PeterASHLEY PETER is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She graduated from MIT with a B.S. in Earth, Atmospheric & Planetary Sciences and Management Science in 2015. Since then, she has worked at Booz Allen Hamilton and currently supports NASA Headquarters in D.C. with its three deep space human exploration programs: Space Launch System (SLS), Orion, and Exploration Ground Systems.



Mackenzie Puig-HallMACKENZIE PUIG-HALL is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She is most interested in topics relating to international collaboration in space. She graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2017 with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. During her time at UCI, she participated in the first and second SpaceX Hyperloop Pod competitions. After graduation, Mackenzie joined the The Aerospace Corporation’s Innovation Lab in El Segundo, CA, where she focused on fostering innovation and collaboration in the space industry. During her graduate studies at GWU, she will continue to work with The Aerospace Corporation at their Crystal City and Chantilly offices.


Creel O'NeilCREEL O’NEIL is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from Miami of Ohio in 2009 with dual BAs in Political Science and Music. Creel then spent 4 years in the Army supporting special operations elements through multiple tours in Afghanistan. Afterward, he held a number of positions in support of the Department of Defense and US space policy issues. Creel intends to focus his studies on space and nuclear security policy.



CONNOR RABB is a first-year graduate student at the Institute for International Science and Technology Policy. Connor graduated from the University of Georgia in 2017 with a BA in Political Science and in International Relations. While a student at UGA Connor conducted research on energy policy and participated in foreign study programs at the University of Oxford and the Beijing Administrative College. Since graduating he has worked in Washington D.C. for U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. Connor is interested in the economics of innovation and international competitiveness in science and technology.



Luc Harper RiesbeckLUC HARPER RIESBECK is a first-year student at the Space Policy Institute. They graduated in May 2018 from NYU Shanghai with a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences: International Relations Track, with a minor in Global China Studies. During their undergraduate career, their research concentrated in inter-governmental science and technological development, diplomacy, and investment, completing a Senior Capstone on China’s growing diplomatic and political influence in aerospace titled “China’s Space Program: An Emergent Player in a Global Cooperative Sphere.” They also served as a Policy Intern at NASA Headquarters’ Office of International and Interagency Relations in 2017. This summer, they are based at Space Angels in New York City as a Policy Analyst and resident Brooke Owens Fellow. Luc fosters a targeted professional interest in improving U.S.-Chinese diplomatic relations in aerospace and laying the regulatory foundations for the intergovernmental and public-private partnerships that will enable the first human crewed missions to Mars.
Luc is also engaged in conversations about social and economic injustice in the United States and China. Their writing and activism in this area has included commentary on topics such as LGBTQ+ activism, the oppression and surveillance of the Uyghur muslim population in Xinjiang, the Black Lives Matter and antifascist movements, and online harassment of journalists.

John RowleyJOHN ROWLEY is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated with honors with a B.S. in Economics from the University of Mary Washington. In the spring of 2016, John presented his research on NASA funding at the Economic Scholars Program Undergraduate Research Conference in Dallas, TX. Upon graduation, he was presented the Henry W. Hewetson Award as an outstanding graduating economics major. He is interested in the commercialization and funding of space programs.



Daniel ShafferDANIEL SHAFFER is a first-year student in the Nuclear Policy graduate certificate program. He is concurrently pursuing his MA degree in Security Policy Studies from GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs, with specialized fields in 1) Transnational Security and 2) Science, Technology and National Security. Recently, Daniel worked in Washington, D.C. at International Technology and Trade Associates on the nuclear energy industry and policy issues, and at Business Executives for National Security.  He holds a BA in political science with a minor in economics and an undergraduate certificate in security studies from Dickinson College. As an undergraduate, Daniel had research internships at the National Defense University, the US Army War College Peacekeeping and Stability Operations Institute, and the Hudson Institute Center for Political-Military Analysis. Daniel also volunteered as a Foreign Affairs Campus Coordinator for the US Department of State. His research and policy interests include geopolitics, national security policy, nuclear energy industry and policy issues, the nexus between nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear energy, government affairs, and interagency coordination.

Sam SRSAM SR is a second-year graduate student pursuing at the Space Policy Institute. He also serves as Staff Assistant at SPI. Sam received a B.S. in Applied Science and Technology from Carnegie Mellon University and intends to use his technical background to develop ways of helping public policy experts and engineers communicate more effectively. During his time as an undergraduate, Sam attended the University of California’s DC campus, where he worked for Congressman Jerrold Nadler in his Capitol Hill office as a legislative intern. He has also previously worked for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania as a legal intake intern.



Gentoku Toyama GENTOKU TOYAMA is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from the University of Tokyo in 2013 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Oriental Studies. He worked for the Japanese Ministry of Defense and was involved in Defense Operation Coordination with the Okinawa Government and also with Earthquake Disaster. Currently, he works for the Defense Policy Division and response to North Korea’s provocative actions. He is interested in the U.S. space policy and Japan-U.S. alliance.



Takuya WakimotoTAKUYA WAKIMOTO is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. His undergraduate degree awarded by Kwansei Gakuin University (Japan), was in International Development, where he gained exposure to international affairs, politics, economics, and technology. He then worked in the aero-engine division at IHI Corporation to learn how defense policies affect the manufacturer. After four years of professional experience, he is now focusing his studies on space, security, and defense policy.



Robbie Van SteenburgROBBIE VAN STEENBURG is a first-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from The University of Texas in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronomy and a minor in Government. He has worked for a member of the Texas House of Representatives. He has also conducted research in multiple different fields including astronomy and political marketing. He is interested in using his combined science and government background to help ensure that government policy reflects the needs of the scientific community.



Anna WiegerANNA WIEGER is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. Her interests lie in how present international space policy will shape future human exploration of outer space. Last year  Anna held an internship at NASA in Exploration Systems Development, and this summer she is a space policy fellow at the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. She received her Bachelor of Science in Studio Art and Minor in Mathematics from Biola University where she was enrolled at the Torrey Honors Institute. Anna served two years in AmeriCorps with the American Red Cross where she twice received the President’s Volunteer Service Award.



Claire WilhelmCLAIRE WILHELM is a second-year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. She received a B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from George Washington University in 2014. During her time as an undergraduate at GW, she interned at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. There, she worked with the team responsible for the integration and testing of the onboard propulsion system of the Magnetospheric Multiscale spacecraft. After completing her undergraduate work, Claire worked in various academic and government positions. She currently works at DARPA, supporting the Tactical Technology Office.