Graduate Students

Space Policy Institute Alumna Jenn Makins with Astronaut Sunita Williams



Space Policy Institute Alumna Stephanie Wan with Chinese Taikonaut Zhai Zhigang

Current M.A. Candidates


BRITTANY BALCOM is a first year student at the Space Policy Institute.
She graduated from Marshall University in 2010 with a BA in International Affairs and a minor in Political Science, with postbaccalaureate coursework in geophysics from the University of Kentucky. She has also studied Chinese at Shanghai International Studies University. Brittany has worked in the US Embassy in Singapore and as a program analyst at Davis Defense Group in Fredericksburg, VA. She has previously interned in NASA's Office of International and Interagency Relations and is currently a space policy research intern at International Technology and Trade Associates. 


DAVID BELCHER is a second year student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from Cleveland State University in 2012 with a B.A. in International Relations and Political Science. His research was primarily centered upon constructing theoretical frameworks for a synthesis between the international relations theories of Neoliberalism and Neorealism, with a focus on investigating the causes of late-twentieth and early twenty-first century conflicts. David has recently worked as an intern with the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, ATK, and the Aerospace Industries Association. He is currently a research assistant at Fultron Corporation.


MIA BROWN is a first year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute at GW where she concentrates in international space policy and political risk management. She recently graduated with an M.A. in Historical Studies from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where she concentrated in space policy, 20th century science and technology policy, and the history of science. Her masters thesis focused on President Johnson's career in space policy throughout the developments and formalization of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Mia also received her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in History from UMBC. During her undergraduate career, she studied central European politics at the Anglo American University in Prague and intensive Chinese language studies at the Beijing Language and Culture University in Beijing. She's worked at various organizations in Washington, DC including Search for Common Ground, Office of Senator Charles E. Schumer, Smithsonian Institution, the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, and the Office of International and Interagency Relations at NASA HQ. Currently, she is an intern at Arianespace. 


THOMAS CHINICK is a first year student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from the University of Denver in June of 2013 with a B.A. in International Studies (concentrated on the Global Political Economy) and Asian Studies, for which he completed a thesis on coping and healing in the aftermath of Hiroshima. While at DU, Tom founded a student-led environmental awareness group, interned with the International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (iCAST), and studied at Kansai Gaidai in Japan for a semester. He is currently an intern in the Space Division of Aerospace Industries Association.


SCOTT FREESE is a second year student with the Space Policy Institute. He attained a B.S. in Astrophysics from Lehigh University in 2008, after interning at NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center in summer 2007, and studying at the University of Edinburgh in the Fall 2007 semester. Upon graduation, Mr. Freese returned to Goddard, employed by SGT, Inc., as a Spacecraft Thermal Coatings and Contamination Engineer. In this position, he continues to support multiple spacecraft projects in all phases of development. He performs laboratory space environment simulation, analysis of thermal control coatings, and was also part of the launch site team for the Solar Dynamics Observatory, which successfully launched from Kennedy Space Center in February 2010.


ZACHARY HESTER is a first year student at the Space Policy Institute.  He graduated summa cum laude from North Carolina State University with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and a B.S. in Political Science in 2011.  At N.C. State, Zack was a both a Park and a Benjamin Franklin Scholar. The Benjamin Franklin program is a dual degree program integrating technology and science with the social sciences and humanities.  His paper entitled “U.S. Opinion on Nuclear Power: Analysis and Perspective” received the N.C. State School of Public and International Affairs award for best senior seminar paper.  In the summer of 2008, he studied at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China.  Zack has interned on the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics and is currently a business technology consultant in Deloitte Consulting’s Federal Practice.


NIKOLAI JOSEPH is a first year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute.  He holds a BS from the University of New Mexico where he majored in Applied Mathematics and minored in Astrophysics. While at UNM, Nikolai worked in a biophysics laboratory and co-authored two papers super resolution imaging theory and techniques, published in Nature Methods and Biophysics Journal. He spent time with an economic development nonprofit before starting his current role at Mathematica Policy Research. His policy interests include: commercial space development, advanced energy concepts, and strategic long term planning. 


KATRINA LAYGO is a second year student at the Space Policy Institute. Her research interests focus on the applications of space technologies for support of maritime security and disaster risk reduction in the United States and Southeast Asia. She graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2010, receiving her B.A. in Geography and Environmental Studies and minor in Geospatial Information Systems and Technology. Katrina served as the Center Lead for NASA's Applied Sciences DEVELOP Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where she conducted applied, use-based research for near-term application and benefit under the guidance of NASA and partner science advisors. She is currently an intern for Environment and Energy at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.


RAPHAEL PERRINO is a first year student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from James Madison University in 2009 with an M.S. in Technical and Scientific Communication and currently works for SAIC as a Technical Writer-Editor. In 2010, he co-founded a STEM-centered non-profit organization, Friends of Arlington's David M. Brown Planetarium. He led online operations for the non-profit and helped raise over $430,000 to save the planetarium from closure. He currently serves on the Board of Directors, coordinating speaking engagements, NASA star parties, and monthly public programs. In 2011, he founded saveJWST, leading a successful grassroots effort to mobilize support and restore funding to the James Webb Space Telescope.


TRENT SCHINDLERis a first-year student at the Space Policy Institute. Trent graduated with a B.S. in Physics in 1995 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where he performed research in the area of high-pressure physics. He went on to receive an M.S. in Meteorology from Penn State University in 2000, with an interdisciplinary concentration in the fields of planetary atmospheres, exoplanets, and astrobiology. Since graduation Trent has worked in the area of scientific animation and visualization. His work has appeared widely in print, broadcast, and Web media, including among others Nature, PBS NOVA, Scientific American, and CNN. Trent is currently a member of the Scientific Visualization Studio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where he creates visualizations based on remote-sensing datasets from Earth science missions.


JORDAN SOTUDEH is a first year student at the Space Policy Institute. He studied at La Sorbonne and New York University, where he received a B.A. in International Relations (Honors), Anthropology, French, a minor in Creative Writing and a certificate in Political Economy, graduating magna cum laude in 2012. His thesis paper, published in Inquiry, uses statistical analyses to test the effects of the Internet on antigovernment demonstrations around the globe. Jordan has worked with, iSpaces cloud computing, MaisonRouge artists in Paris, Belize Valley Archaeological Reconnaisance, LitWorld grass-roots education, IMUNA, and currently serves as Staff Assistant at the Space Policy Institute and Researcher for the 2014 Space Security Index.





SPI Director Part of US Delegation to UNCOPUOS

SPI Director Interviewed by KPCC on Conflict in Space

SPI Director Interviewed by NPR on SpaceX-ULA Lawsuit

Space Policy Institute Luncheon with Representative Frank Wolf

SPI Research Associate Published in WPR

SPI Visiting Scholar Speaks at JAXA Washington Office

SPI Professor Featured in GW Magazine

SPI Director Delivers Testimony in Senate Hearing

SPI Director Delivers Statement in Congressional Hearing

SPI Associate Director Delivers Statement in Congressional Hearing

SPI Director Awarded AIAA Durand Lectureship in Public Service

Air Force General Shelton, Commander of AFSPC, Speaks at an SPI Seminar: "Space and Cyberspace: Enduring Missions in a Changing World"

SPI Director on Radio Panel, Diane Rehm Show, NPR

SPI Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund Interviewed by Forbes

SPI Director's New Collaborative Book Looks Into the Future of American Space

SPI Faculty Article in AAAS's Science Looks Into Human Lunar Heritage

SPI Director on India Mars Mission in NewScientist

SPI Alumna, Emma Hinds, Recognized by Satellite Industry with 2013 Promise Award

SPI and Beijing Institute of Technology's Institute of Space Law Sign Joint Statement in Beijing

SPI Director Weighs Public and Private Interests at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space

SPI Director Gives Presentation at NextGen Ahead Conference on the Future of GPS

SPI Director Discusses Space Industry, Policy and Inspiration at Home and Abroad on The Space Show

SPI Professor Emeritus John Logsdon to Receive Frank J. Malina Astronautics Medal from IAF

SPI Director and SPI Professor Emeritus Review Time in Office as Former NASA Deputy Administrator Steps Down

SPI Director Tells Washington Post TV What to Expect from Space

To the Point Interviews SPI Director on Future of Space

SPI Director Interviewed on Plan for US Lunar Park

SPI Alumna Laura Delgado López to Participate in MIT/Skoltech Initiative in July, Moscow

SPI Professor Pascale Ehrenfreund elected President of Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

GWU Faculty Honored at AIAA Awards Gala

SPI Visiting Scholar Speaks at JAXA Washington Office

SPI Director Scott Pace Writes Guest Blog for The Diplomat

George Washington University Team Competes in Quarter Finals of 2013 North American Space Law Moot Court Competition

SPI Alumna to Moderate NASA's First Spanish Language Google+ Hangout

C-SPAN, SpacePolicyOnline, The Space Review and Aviation Week cover SPI-AIAA Event, "Columbia+10: Lessons Learned and Unlearned"

SPI Professor Henry Hertzfeld interviewed on The Space Show

Papers by SPI Faculty named in Science Direct's Top 25 Hottest Articles from Advances in Space Research for 2012

SPI Director Scott Pace cited by Der Spiegel


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