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 second 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 at NASA's Office of International and Interagency Relations, International Technology and Trade Associates, and the Space Policy Institute. She is currently an intern at Arianespace.


MIA BROWN is second year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute at the George Washington University where she concentrates in international space policy and risk management. She recently graduated with an M.A. in Historical Studies from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where she completed her masters thesis 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 European politics at the Anglo American University in Prague and intensive Chinese language studies at the Beijing Language and Culture University. Mia is the Managing Editor for the print edition of the Elliott School's academic journal, the International Affairs Review, and serves as Vice-Chair of the Science and Technology Global 2015 Consortium. She's worked at various organizations in Washington, DC and abroad, such as the Office of International and Interagency Relations at NASA HQ, Arianespace, and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs in Vienna, Austria, along with the International Bureau at the FCC. Currently, Mia is the Staff Assistant at the Space Policy Institute.


THOMAS CHINICK is a second 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 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, and studied at Kansai Gaidai in Japan for a semester. Since beginning his studies at the Space Policy Institute, he has interned at Aerospace Industries Association, Satellite Industry Association, conducted research for Dr. Henry Hertzfeld at SPI, and is currently interning at NASA's Office of International and Interagency Relations. Tom is also conducting research on the Super 301 trade agreement with Japan.


ZACHARY HESTER is a second 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 second 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. 


KATE MCGINNIS is a first year ISTP student focusing on Space Policy.  She graduated with a bachelors and masters in mechanical engineering from Cornell University in 2008 after working on the student satellite team, CUSat, which launched in 2013.  She has since worked in the aerospace industry in California and the DC region.  Her goal is to learn more about the policy considerations that drive the space industry in the US and the world.  She is particularly interested in science satellites and the interactions between civil, military, and international space powers concerning the resulting data.


DEVIN OSTING is a first year student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated from Western Washington University in 2009 with a B.A. in Political Science/Philosophy/Economics, where he was active in intercollegiate debate. For the last three years, Devin has worked at LMG, a public affairs firm, working on aviation issues. Before that, he worked on political campaigns in Washington state, including Senator Patty Murray’s. He is interested in the commercial and civil sector space sectors, and the policy challenges that new uses of space creates.


RAPHAEL PERRINOis a second 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 The Tauri Group as an Aerospace Analyst in support of the Strategic Investments Division of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer at NASA. 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. In August 2014, Perrino was published in the conference proceedings of the AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition (SPACE 2014) and presented “Is JFK-Style Leadership the Catalyst?” at the conference in San Diego, California.


TRENT SCHINDLER is a second 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 second 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 Researcher for the 2014 Space Security Index as well as in the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (OUSD(P)), Space Policy.


KENTARO TANAKA is a first year graduate student at the Space Policy Institute. He majored in Physics at Chiba University in Japan, where he studied the formation of celestial bodies and the large-structure of the universe. During his studies, he wrote a thesis titled “Simulation of Astrophysical Jets and Visualization of the Phenomenon in 3D”. After Chiba University, he has been working for the SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation, a Japanese satellite operator and telecommunication & broadcasting service provider based in Tokyo. He has experience working in Hong Kong, where he did marketing for the Asia- Oceania telecommunication satellite industry, and in Tokyo developing one of the largest PPP project in Japan in the Japanese space & defense field.


WILLIAM WEST is a first-year student at the Space Policy Institute. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida in 2011 with a BA in Geography and a minor in Linguistics, with additional postbaccalaureate coursework in geographic information systems and spatial epidemiology at the University of Florida. He has worked for the U.S. Geological Survey in Gainesville, where he worked in cartographic production and the landcover analysis and digital processing of Everglades aerial photography. His policy interests include international cooperation in space and the use of satellites in remote sensing and planetary scientific research.


»SPI Director, Scott Pace, testifies in front of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Environment on NOAA Utilization of Commercial Remote Sensing Data.

»SPI Director, Scott Pace, testifies in front of the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation committee on U.S. Human Exploration Goals and Commercial Space Competitiveness. His testimony is available online.

» SPI Professor Emeritus John Logsdon discusses his upcoming book titled After Apollo: Richard Nixon and the American Space Program at the National Air and Space Museum

»SPI Hosts Brett Biddington AM for Discussion on Space Activities in Australia: Challeneges, Opportunities and Responsibilities

»SPI Graduate Student Jordan Sotudeh Writes Op-Ed for Space News

SPI Director Speaks at Atlantic Council event, The Final Frontier: Renewing America's Space Program

SPI Director Writes Op-Ed for Aviation Week

SPI Graduate Student Zack Hester Writes Op-Ed for Space News

SPI Director Discusses National Security Space Launch and the Industrial Base: Issues and Opportunities at the Marshall Institute

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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