Keynote Speakers

Speakers subject to change.


Founder and Managing Director, Lux Capital

Josh co-founded Lux Capital to support scientists and entrepreneurs who pursue counter-conventional solutions to the most vexing puzzles of our time in order to lead us into a brighter future. The more ambitious the project, the better—like, say, creating matter from light.

Josh is a Director at Shapeways, Strateos, Lux Research, Kallyope, CTRL-labs, Variant, and Varda, and helped lead the firm’s investments in Anduril, Planet, Echodyne, Clarifai, Authorea, and Resilience. He is a founding investor and board member with Bill Gates in Kymeta, making cutting-edge antennas for high-speed global satellite and space communications. Josh is a Westinghouse semi-finalist and published scientist. He previously worked in investment banking at Salomon Smith Barney and in capital markets at Merrill Lynch. In 2008 Josh co-founded and funded Kurion, a contrarian bet in the unlikely business of using advanced robotics and state-of-the-art engineering and chemistry to clean up nuclear waste. It was an unmet, inevitable need with no solution in sight. The company was among the first responders to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. In February 2016, Veolia acquired Kurion for nearly $400 million—34 times Lux’s total investment.

Josh is a columnist with Forbes and Editor for the Forbes/Wolfe Emerging Tech Report. He has been invited to The White House and Capitol Hill to advise on nanotechnology and emerging technologies, and a lecturer at MIT, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia and NYU. He is a term member at The Council on Foreign Relations and Chairman of Coney Island Prep charter school, where he grew up in Brooklyn. He graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in Economics and Finance.

Jeff Guido ’07

Director, Special Projects at Planet

Jeff is the Director of Special Projects at Planet where he coordinates R&D programs while onboarding new missions to the Planet strategic roadmap. Prior to his current role, Jeff has been a program manager, satellite operator and developer for Planet, Google and the US Air Force touching all life stages of a space program including inception, source selection, development, test, launch, early operations and sustainment. Jeff received his BS in Electrical Engineering from Cornell University and his MS in EE from University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. 


Program Director, Science and Robotic Exploration, Tactical Space Systems at Northrop Grumman, Space Systems

Cheryl Reed is Program Director of the Science and Robotic Exploration Operating Unit in the Civil and Commercial Satellites Business Unit, Tactical Space Systems Division at Northrop Grumman. In this capacity, Cheryl maintains full profit and loss, and operating responsibility for the science and robotic exploration missions for NASA, NOAA, USGS customers with a portfolio including NASA Earth, Astrophysics, Heliophysics, Lunar and Planetary Sciences; NOAA and USGS Terrestrial and Space Weather Missions; and USG Engagement, industry collaboration and international community outreach.

Recently retired from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory after 35 years of service, Cheryl became widely recognized in the space science community as an innovative leader, a trusted partner, and an effective and respected advocate for NASA programs and capabilities. Ms. Reed has held major program management roles for more than 25 national and international civil and national security space programs. Ms. Reed was the APL Civil Space Strategic Integration Manager and Program Manager for DART, NASA’s first planetary defense mission. Under her leadership, many of APL’s most innovative architectures and missions have been formulated from the ground up including, NASA’s New Frontiers-4 nuclear-powered Dragonfly Mission to Titan.

Ms. Reed has served on NASA non-advocate review boards, including Chair for the NEXT-C Electric Propulsion System and GRAIL Mission Standing Review Board (SRB), and Executive Council member to NASA’s Radioisotope Power Systems Program and Next-Generation RTG Team.

Ms. Reed earned a Master of Art in International Affairs from the American University in 1985 and a Bachelor of Business Administration from New England College in 1982.


Stephen J. Fujikawa ’77 Professor of Astronautical Engineering

Dr. Peck is on the engineering faculty at Cornell University, where his research and teaching focus on Aerospace Engineering and Systems Engineering. From late 2011 through 2013, he was on leave serving as NASA’s Chief Technologist, one of the seven highest-ranking officials at the agency. In that capacity, he served as the primary advisor to the NASA Administrator on matters of technology-investment strategy, roadmapping, prioritization, partnerships, intellectual property, and commercialization. The Office of the Chief Technologist is home to the agency’s Technology Transfer enterprise, the Innovative Partnerships Office, Prizes and Challenges Strategy Office, and Emerging Space Office. His work with NASA since 2011 has included collaborations in space-policy development with the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. Examples include new technology initiatives at the agency, including the Asteroid Grand Challenge and the program in Foundational Investments in Engineering Science.


Associate Professor, Director, Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, Director of the Spacecraft Planetary Image Facility

Alexander Hayes is an Associate Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Spacecraft Planetary Image Facility. Prof. Hayes and his group specialize in the geological and physical processes that shape planetary surface and atmospheres, including the identification and characterization of potentially habitable environments across the solar system. Alex’s flight project experience includes Cassini, MER, MSL, Mars2020, and Europa Clipper. He has also worked on instrument design and characterization for several Missile Defense Agency Programs. Dr. Hayes is the recipient of the Zeldovich Medal from COSPAR and the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Ronald Greely Early Career Award from AGU, the Sigma Xi Young Scholar Procter Prize, and a NASA Early Career Fellowship. Dr. Hayes recently served as a member of the Science Definition Teams for the Europa Lander and Ice Giants mission concept studies. He earned a M.Eng in Applied Physics from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the California Institute of Technology.

Space Talk Speakers

Speakers subject to change.

ADAM MAHER ’06, M.ENG. ’07

CEO and Founder of Ursa Space Systems Inc.

Adam Maher is the CEO and founder of Ursa Space Systems Inc., whose services enable users to research, monitor, search, and discover changes in physical objects around the globe, from the perspective of space. Ursa Space’s platform uses a proprietary virtual satellite radar constellation management, analytics, and fusion engine to automate and abstract the complicated process of gaining access to, processing, and fusing satellite data with terrestrial data sources.

Adam’s vision is to improve the satellite Earth observation user experience by bringing the community of traditional and new space members together to create a living world map that empowers individuals to better understand how the events of the world impact them or their mission.

Prior to founding Ursa Space, Adam worked at MAXAR (Space Systems Loral). There, he served as a system engineer from paper to launch for complete satellite builds and multiple successful commercial satellite proposals. In addition to broadband satellite communications work, he also worked on efforts in space robotics, electric propulsion, Earth observation, and government programs.


Assistant Professor, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Elaine Petro joined the Cornell University faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at in 2020. She is the director of the newly formed ASTRAlab, which focuses on plasma science and sustainable space exploration architectures. Elaine did her graduate work at the University of Maryland’s Space Power and Propulsion Laboratory studying water plasma propulsion. She also spent time in the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics as a visiting student and post-doctoral researcher, studying electrospray thruster technology for small satellite platforms. Elaine has been named an ARCS Scholar, National Science Foundation and Amelia Earhart fellow, and was recognized as one of AIAA / Aviation Week & Space Technology’s Twenty20s emerging leaders in aerospace in 2016.


Assistant Professor, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Professor Savransky received his PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University, where he was a member of the High Contrast Imaging Laboratory. After completing his doctorate in 2011, he became a postdoctoral fellow at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he assisted in the integration and testing of the Gemini Planet Imager and participated in the planning of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey.


Advanced Systems Manager, Ball Aerospace

Bonnie is a planetary astronomer with extensive experience in developing and managing strategic projects for space-based observatories and in serving the needs of their users. She is the coordinator of multiple national-level programs and communications activities through establishing and maintaining relationships with stakeholders across scales. She is an experienced NASA contractor, knowledgeable of scope of SMD missions and responsive to requirements of federal agencies. 


Program, Strategic University Research Partnership (SURP), Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)

Dr. Jordana Blacksberg is currently the Program Manager for the JPL Strategic University Research Partnership (SURP) program in the Office of the Chief Scientist. She is dedicated to increasing the impact of our research partnerships with universities which is the key to keeping JPL on the cutting edge of research. Prior to her SURP role, she was a senior member of technical staff in the Instruments Division at JPL.  She has an active research program and extensive experience in in situ planetary instrument and detector development.  She has served as PI for numerous research programs supported by NASA, JPL, and KISS. She also serves as the Investigation Scientist for the Europa Clipper Magnetometer.

Research focus Primitive Bodies, Raman, Infrared spectroscopy, magnetometry, in situ science and instrumentation for primitive Solar System bodies

In her early career at JPL and previously at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory she developed expertise in designing, fabricating and testing numerous detectors for imaging and spectroscopy in bands ranging from ultraviolet to far-infrared including delta-doped CCDs, Germanium BIB arrays, and extended wavelength silicon detectors.  

Barry Safier

Technical Director, Moog Space Systems Advanced Programs

Barry currently serves as the Technical Director for Moog’s Space Systems Advanced Programs Group where he leads a talented team of engineers to explore new products and technologies to enable continuous growth across Civil, Commercial, and DoD markets.  By leveraging Moog’s extensive heritage in critical product areas including Propulsion, Actuation, Avionics, and Structures, the Space Systems Group strives to enable future capabilities in both emerging and traditional Space markets from New Space and LEO commercialization to Human and Deep Space exploration to space situational awareness and assured access to space. 

Barry joined Moog’s Space and Defense Group in 1996 and has held roles in Design, Project, and Systems Engineering where he was responsible for the technical leadership of complex programs, the development of system-level product designs and architectures, and the generation of technology roadmaps and IR&D plans.  Barry received his BS in Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science and Computer Science from Duke University and his MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University.



Adjunct Associate Professor of Astronomy, Department of Astronomy, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Dr. Britney Schmidt has just joined the faculty of the Astronomy and Earth & Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University as an Associate Professor, having spent the past nearly 8 years as a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She and her team develop robotic tools and instruments and use spacecraft to study planets.  Exploring Earth’s ice shelves and glaciers and the oceans beneath them, Schmidt’s team helps to capture the impacts of changing climate on the cryosphere, while understanding analogs for Ocean Worlds like Jupiter’s moon Europa. She received a B.S. in Physics from the University of Arizona, and PhD in Geophysics and Space Physics from UCLA. Schmidt has a long history of NASA spacecraft involvement, including the Dawn and Europa Clipper missions and the Europa Lander and LUVOIR Space Telescope mission concepts.  She has conducted seven field seasons in Antarctica and one in the Arctic leading large science and technology programs. Her team’s most recent projects have deployed the Icefin vehicle, built in her lab, to explore underneath the McMurdo and Ross Ice Shelf (NASA project RISE UP) and Thwaites Glacier, one of the fastest changing glaciers in Antarctica (NERC-NSF ITGC). She’ll be joining the symposium on the tail end of a campaign to explore ground ice and water in Pingos in the Arctic—analogs for features on Mars and asteroids that may represent future in situ water resources, which the team will explore with candidate instruments for future robotic lander and human exploration.


David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences, Chair, Department of Astronomy

Lunine is interested in how planets form and evolve, what processes maintain and establish habitability, and what kinds of exotic environments (methane lakes, etc.) might host a kind of chemistry sophisticated enough to be called “life”.  He pursues these interests through theoretical modeling and participation in spacecraft missions.  He worked with the radar and other instruments on Cassini, is co-investigator on the Juno mission now in orbit at Jupiter, and on the MISE instrument for the Europa Clipper mission.  He is on the science team for the James Webb Space Telescope, focusing on characterization of extrasolar planets and Kuiper Belt objects.  Lunine has contributed to concept studies for a wide range of planetary and exoplanetary missions. Lunine is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and has participated in or chaired a number of advisory and strategic planning committees for the Academy and for NASA.

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