IEEE Space Mission Challenges for Information Technology - IEEE Space Computing Conference
Computer History Museum  •  Mountain View, CA, USA  •  15-19 July 2024

Dr. Laurie Leshin


Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. Laurie Leshin, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since May 2022, is a distinguished geochemist and space scientist with extensive leadership experience in academia and government, including senior NASA positions.

Leshin was president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 2014 to 2022 and previously served as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Science dean. At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center from 2005 to 2008, she served as director of science, then deputy director for science and technology, leading strategy, planning, and implementation of more than 50 Earth and space flight projects. In 2010, Leshin became deputy associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, overseeing future human spaceflight.

Her numerous honors include NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and Distinguished Public Service Medal, and the Meteoritical Society’s Nier Prize for outstanding research by a scientist under the age of 35. The International Astronomical Union named asteroid 4922 Leshin to honor her planetary science contributions. Leshin advised President George W. Bush on space policy, and Barack Obama appointed her to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum advisory board. Leshin holds a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Arizona State University, and master’s and doctoral degrees in geochemistry from Caltech.

Leshin is the first woman to serve as JPL director, a role that also includes serving as Vice President at Caltech, which manages JPL for NASA. Leshin is also a Bren Professor of Geochemistry and Planetary Science at Caltech and will continue as co-investigator for two instruments on NASA's Mars Curiosity rover.

Dr. Katherine Bouman

Assistant Professor

California Institute of Technology

Katherine L. (Katie) Bouman is an assistant professor in the Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Electrical Engineering, and Astronomy Departments at the California Institute of Technology. Before joining Caltech, she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She received her Ph.D. in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT in EECS, and her bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan. She is a Rosenberg Scholar, Heritage Medical Research Institute Investigator, recipient of the Royal Photographic Society Progress Medal, and co-recipient of the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. As part of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, she is co-lead of the Imaging Working Group and acted as coordinator for papers concerning the first imaging of the M87* and Sagittarius A* black holes.

Dr. Rachel Klima

Director, Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium

Principal Staff Scientist, Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory

Dr. Rachel Klima is the Director of the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium and a principal staff scientist in the Planetary Exploration Group at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Dr. Klima’s research focuses on integrating laboratory analysis of lunar, meteoritic, synthetic, and terrestrial rocks and minerals with near through mid-infrared spectral measurements of solid bodies in the solar system to understand such topics as the thermal/magmatic evolution of the Moon, distribution of minerals, water, and hydroxyl on the lunar surface, and the composition of Mercury’s crust. Research honors include the NASA/SSERVI Susan Maher Niebur Early Career Award (2018), the NASA Carl Sagan Early Career Award (2012), and Asteroid 9287 Klima (2014).

Dr. Klima has been involved with numerous missions to bodies throughout the solar system, beginning in graduate school with the Dawn Mission to the asteroids Vesta and Ceres, and the Moon Mineralogy Mapper, a hyperspectral imaging spectrometer flown on Chandrayaan-1. At APL, she has worked on the MESSENGER mission to Mercury, Europa Clipper, and the Lunar Vertex mission. She currently serves as the Deputy PI of the Lunar Trailblazer Mission and is a participating scientist on the Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter.

In her role as the Director of the Lunar Surface Innovation Consortium (LSIC), she and her team have worked to build a diverse community of over 2000 participants from academia, industry, non-profits, and government to understand the technical gaps and development needed to establish a sustained presence on the Moon. For that effort, she and the team were awarded a NASA 2020 Headquarters Honor Award for Excellence in Innovation.

Dr. Carolyn Mercer

Chief Technologist

Science Mission Directorate


Dr. Carolyn Mercer is the Chief Technologist for NASA's Science Mission Directorate where she champions the development of innovative technologies to enable exciting new capabilities for astrophysics, heliophysics, Earth and planetary science, and fundamental physics on the International Space Station. Prior to joining the Science Mission Directorate's leadership team, Dr. Mercer held several NASA Headquarters positions. She was the founding leader of the Planetary Exploration Science Technology Office where she created innovative approaches to promote technology infusion including the development of communities of practice to promote knowledge exchange. She was the Lead Program Executive for the SIMPLEx rideshare program for planetary science, where she substantially changed the program to focus on leveraging unused launch capacity to provide excellent science. She also served as a senior policy analyst for astrophysics.

Dr. Mercer has managed a broad portfolio of space-related technology development projects, including technologies to explore icy moons, advanced scientific instruments, flexible solar arrays, energy storage systems, and adaptive engine technologies. She began her career as a research engineer developing optical techniques to measure fluid properties in propulsion facilities at the Glenn Research Center and supervised a highly skilled group of scientists and engineers developing similar technologies. She holds two patents in optical instrumentation and has received numerous awards including the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement, NASA Glenn Outstanding Leadership Award, and NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal.

Dr. Mercer earned her Ph.D. in Optical Sciences from the University of Arizona, an MS in Physics from Cleveland State University, and a BS in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the Ohio State University.

Victoria Da Poian

Data Scientist

Planetary Environment Laboratory

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Victoria Da Poian is a data scientist at the Planetary Environment Laboratory (PEL) at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Her research focuses on developing machine learning (ML) and data science tools for planetary science instruments (such as mass spectrometers) in order to develop science autonomy for space missions. She mainly works on the MOMA instrument (Mars Organic Molecule Analyzer), DraMS (Dragonfly Mass Spectrometer), and other ocean worlds research projects. Victoria is a key part of the MOMA operations team planning how to employ the instrument on the surface of Mars. Victoria Da Poian has organized open science ML challenges in order to investigate the use of transfer learning techniques applied to the SAM (Sample Analysis at Mars) instrument onboard Curiosity rover. On her spare time, she takes part to mentoring events for primary schools, middle schools, and high schools to share about her studies and work for planetary missions.

Victoria Da Poian obtained her master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering from ISAE-Supaero (Toulouse, France) in 2019, and performed several international internships (supporting robotics projects to support astronauts for future lunar missions at the European Space Agency in Germany, and developing ML algorithms for the safety team at the Centre Spatial Guyanais (CSG), the European spaceport in French Guiana). She is currently a PhD candidate at the Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Lukas Mandrake

Senior Machine Learning Researcher, Group Lead

Machine Learning and Instrument Autonomy Group


Dr. Lukas Mandrake is the Group Lead for the Machine Learning (ML) and Instrument Autonomy group at JPL, bringing ML techniques to bear against a wide range of applied problems in space, science, and mission operations. He is also an enthusiastic and award-winning speaker & educator focused on bringing the promise of ML to new fields and applications as well as science education in general, and passionately works to educate children in science literacy and critical thinking. He co-leads the Science Understanding through Data Science (SUDS) initiative to form a collaborative community of physical and data scientists to produce new insights from our vast remote sensing datasets, as well as champions Onboard Science Instrument Autonomy (OSIA) to help summarize and prioritize science observations to empower mission science teams to overcome the bandwidth barrier.

Prior to joining the MLIA group at JPL, Dr. Mandrake worked for 5 years in ionospheric modeling using GPS signals, built models of rental income vs. apartment amenities for real estate, coded and wrote dialog for several major computer games, and constructed a unique plasma simulator for auroral investigations. He holds a PhD in Computational Plasma Physics from UCLA, 2002 after entering college at the age of 13.

Florence Tan

Deputy Chief Technologist

Science Mission Directorate


Florence Tan is the Deputy Chief Technologist for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD) at NASA Headquarters. She works with the SMD’s Chief Technologist to survey and assess technology needs for NASA’s science divisions and serves as a liaison to the NASA Office of the Chief Technologist, other NASA mission directorates, as well as NASA centers. Florence Tan is also the Chair of the Small Spacecraft Coordination Group (SSCG) at NASA Headquarters. In her role as SSCG Chair, she leads the SSCG to coordinate and develop NASA’s strategy and vision for small spacecraft in science, exploration missions, and technology activities and provide advice to the Associate Administrators of the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), ESDMD and SOMD and SMD. Previously, Florence was at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) for 32 years as a lead electrical engineer, cognizant engineer, designer, technical manager, and instrument operator for NASA spaceflight projects. She has built and launched seven mass spectrometers to destinations including Mars, Saturn, Titan, and the Moon. Ms. Tan received her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Engineering from University of Maryland and a master’s degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from The John Hopkins University.

Dr. Bethany Ehlmann

Professor of Planetary Science

California Institute of Technology

Bethany Ehlmann is a professor of planetary science at Caltech. She is also Associate Director of Caltech’s Keck Institute for Space Studies. Her research focuses on the mineralogy and chemistry of planetary surfaces, remote sensing techniques and instruments, astrobiology, and science policy and outreach. Her primary focus is unraveling Mars' environmental history and understanding water in the solar system.

Prof. Ehlmann is Principal Investigator of Lunar Trailblazer, a NASA smallsat mission with a goal to map the form, distribution, and abundance of water on the Moon and understand the lunar water cycle. She is a Deputy PI of the CRISM imaging spectrometer on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Participating Scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, Co-I on the Mastcam-Z and SHERLOC teams for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, and Co-I on the EMIT space station-based imaging spectrometer to explore Earth's dust source regions. She was also a member of the science team for the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) and an Affiliate of the Dawn orbiter team during its exploration of the largest asteroid and dwarf planet Ceres. Prof. Ehlmann is working to propose instrument and mission concepts for Europa, Enceladus, Venus, the Moon, and asteroids.

In addition to her scientific research Prof. Ehlmann is active in policy and outreach. She presently serves as a member of the National Academies Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science and the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey 2023-2032 (Steering Committee member and Mars Panel vice-chair). She is President of the Planetary Society, the world’s largest non-profit focused on fostering space exploration, the search for life, and the protection of Earth from asteroid impacts. In 2018, she authored a children's book on solar system exploration with Jennifer Swanson and National Geographic Kids, Dr. E's Super Stellar Solar System.

Ehlmann is an American Geophysical Union fellow, 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, a former Mineralogical Society of America Distinguished Lecturer, and a recipient of the AGU’s Macelwane medal, the American Astronomical Society Planetary Science Division Urey prize, and COSPAR’s Zeldovich medal, as well as NASA Group Achievement Awards.

Prior to her appointment at Caltech, Prof. Ehlmann was a European Union Marie Curie Fellow at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay, France. Originally from Tallahassee, FL, she earned her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis, earned M.Sc. degrees from the University of Oxford in Environmental Change and Management and in Geography as a Rhodes Scholar, and earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Geological Sciences as a National Science Foundation graduate fellow at Brown University.

Dr. Matt Greenhouse

Project Scientist / James Webb Space Telescope


Matthew Greenhouse has served on the James Webb Space Telescope senior staff as Project Scientist for the Webb science instrument payload since 1997. He specializes in infrared imaging spectroscopy, development of related instrumentation and technologies, flight project science, and technical management.

Greenhouse began work in infrared astronomy during 1979 when, after receiving a Bachelor's of Science degree in Geosciences from the University of Arizona, he joined the Steward Observatory as an instrument technician for balloon-borne and Kuiper Airborne Observatory science instrument development. During 1983, he joined the Wyoming Infrared Observatory as a graduate student in physics. After receiving a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Wyoming during 1989, he joined the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC as a Federal Civil Service astrophysicist. He then joined the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center during 1996 in the same capacity.

Greenhouse has served on several NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) flight mission teams. He supported ESA's Infrared Space Observatory mission as a member of the Long Wavelength Spectrometer instrument team. He supported the NASA Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy mission by serving on its Independent Annual Review Board as Co-Chair, and served on both its Interim Management Review Board, and Science Steering Committee. He supported the NASA Spitzer mission by serving on its Community Task Force as Legacy Science Program Chair and the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Camera 3 instrument project by serving on numerous gateway technical review boards. Greenhouse has been a member of the NASA Astrophysics Working Group, and has supported ground-based astronomy through membership on the National Science Foundation Committee of Visitors, and numerous selection committees and review boards for major ground-based instrumentation.

Greenhouse is the recipient of more than 20 individual performance awards and honors including: the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the Robert H. Goddard award for Exceptional Achievement in Science.

Greenhouse's post-graduate professional training includes completion of more than 20 courses in technical management, public leadership, and engineering from the Brookings Institution, The University of California Los Angeles, the NASA Academy of Program/Project & Engineering Leadership, and the Federal Executive Institute. Greenhouse received a Certificate in Public Leadership from the Brookings Institution during 2012.

Greenhouse is an avid sailor. He is author of more than 100 publications.

Dr. R. Scott Erwin

Acting Chief Scientist for the Space Vehicles Directorate

Air Force Research Laboratory / Space Force

R. Scott Erwin has been an employee of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate (AFRL/RV) located at Kirtland AFB, NM, from 1997 to the present. He is currently the acting Chief Scientist for the Space Vehicles Directorate. Dr. Erwin has been the Principal Investigator or Co-PI for six on-orbit flight experiments during his career at AFRL, including his most recent role as the PI for the Air Force EAGLE-Mycroft flight experiments. Dr. Erwin is the author or co-author of over 120 technical publications in the areas of autonomy, spacecraft communications, dynamics & controls. He is a Fellow of both AIAA and IEEE and was the 2016 recipient of the IEEE Judith A. Resnick Space Award for "for outstanding contributions to spacecraft vibration isolation technologies and ultra-precision pointing of large flexible space platforms." His current research interests are the interplay between communications, estimation, machine learning, and control in autonomous, networked multi-spacecraft systems.

Mr. John Costello

Corporate Vice President of Government Affairs

Microchip Technologies

Mr. Costello earned a degree in business from Loyola University in Los Angeles in 1983 and Management Development Program UC Irvine in 2005. He has over 38 years’ experience in the aerospace and defense semiconductor marketplace.

Mr. Costello is in his 33rd year of employment at Microchip Technology, (Nasdaq: MCHP) a company offering a comprehensive portfolio of semiconductor and system solutions for communications, defense and security, aerospace and industrial markets. Products include high-performance and radiation-hardened analog mixed- signal integrated circuits, FPGAs, SoCs, microcontrollers, microprocessors and ASICs; power management products; timing and synchronization devices and precise time solutions, setting the world's standard for time; voice processing devices; RF solutions; discrete components; security technologies and scalable anti-tamper products; Power-over-Ethernet ICs and midspans; custom design capabilities and services. Microchip is headquartered in Chandler, AZ with over 20,000 employees globally.

Mr. Costello currently is Corporate Vice President of Government Affairs, where his responsibilities include developing and implementing strategy related to legislation, and government agencies, impacting mission critical and commercially driven microelectronics, systems and subsystems.

Prior to Microchip's acquisition of Microsemi in 2018, Mr. Costello held several executive positions at Microsemi, including VP of High Reliability Global Sales from 2004-2014 and VP of Government Relations and Business Development from 2014-2019. While in his leadership roles in global sales and business development, Microsemi achieved substantial growth and met all corporate sales objectives and guidance. As decade long full member, John has commenced his second two-year term on the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) Board of Governors and represents Microchip on multiple AIA councils.

Mr. Costello is considered a Subject Matter Expert in the field of Microelectronics and served in this capacity on several prestigious panels including the Potomac Institute, National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) and The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He has appeared on Fox Business and Bloomberg discussing federal semiconductor legislation.Mr. Costello serves on Public Policy Council of the Semiconductor Industries Association (SIA) and is the Microchip alternate member of their Board of Directors.

In 2017 Mr. Costello penned the memoir, Executive Hoodlum, Negotiating On The Corner Of Main And Mean. Prior to the completion of the book, Mr. Costello signed a life rights deal with independent award-winning producer Ehud Bleiberg for a proposed television series based on his book.

Mr. Daniel Marrujo

President and Managing Director

Trusted Strategic Solutions

Daniel Marrujo is currently the President and Managing Director of Trusted Strategic Solutions, a leading Silicon Valley based consulting and government relations firm. He is on the Board of Advisors for Akhan Semiconductor, BMNT, Integra Technologies, KeySquare Cyber Security and Tignis. He is on the Board of Directors for Nantero, a member of the President's Council of Advisors for California Polytechnic State University and a Senior Fellow for the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies. He is currently a critical member of the Defense Microelectronics Cross Functional Team (DMCFT). Prior to this Mr. Marrujo served over 10 years as a senior civilian in the US Government. His final assignment was the Chief Strategy Officer and Director of the Office of Research and Technology Applications (ORTA) at the Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA). The Defense Microelectronics Activity serves as a joint resource for the Department of Defense, US Government Agencies, Industry and Foreign Allies on all microelectronic efforts.

Outside of microelectronics, Mr. Marrujo co-founded Trusted American Insurance Agency. This insurance company has grown into all 50 states with over 6,000 insurance agents nationwide. Mr. Marrujo currently sits on the Board of Directors for Trusted American Insurance Agency.

Dan co-founded The Marrujo Foundation, which was created to support, and work with educational institutions to further research in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology to establish a world-leading fellowship ecosystem. The foundations efforts are to ensure that institutional work challenges current understanding of space, create new opportunities and make a difference in people's lives across the United States and around the world.

He holds a master's degree in Materials Engineering and a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA.

The Honorable Ian Steff

President and CEO

mySilicon Compass

Ian Paul Steff hails from the nexus of technology partnerships, innovation policy, investment attraction, economic development, and international trade. He is a veteran executive with significant experience in government and industry. Mr. Steff is President and CEO of mySilicon Compass, LLC, a strategic consulting practice that engages clients seeking to navigate the global semiconductor market, supply chain, policy landscape, workforce and technology initiatives, and investment climate. Mr. Steff also serves as a Senior Advisor for Advanced Manufacturing and International Trade at Bose Public Affairs Group and as Executive Advisor to the Chairman and CEO of Ross Acquisition Corp II, as publicly listed as ROSS.U on the NYSE.

He most recently served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Global Markets and Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service following his unanimous confirmation by the United States Senate. In this role, Mr. Steff led a team of 1,400 trade and investment professionals based in more than 100 U.S. cities and 70 countries focused on export promotion, advocacy on behalf of U.S. companies competing for foreign government procurements, investment attraction, and trade barrier removal. Mr. Steff also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing. During his time at the Department, the team Mr. Steff led assisted more than 77,000 U.S. exporters, facilitated $296 billion in U.S. exports and investment, and supported 1.3 million American jobs, as reported to the Office of Management and Budget. His team received three Department Gold Medals for extraordinary performance as presented by the Secretary of Commerce, including for its foundational work on the Department's semiconductor efforts with industry and Congress.

Prior to federal government service, Mr. Steff held senior roles in the administration of then-Governor Pence and Governor Holcomb. He was named the State of Indiana's first Chief Innovation Officer and was Executive Vice President of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation where he led the international investment attraction team and innovation and entrepreneurship initiatives. Mr. Steff has served as a founding member, director, or advisor to more than a dozen public-private R&D consortia involving semiconductors, energy storage, composite materials, autonomous transportation, nanotechnology, and advanced manufacturing.

He worked for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) for nearly a decade, serving in a variety of capacities including Vice President of Global Policy and Technology Partnerships. The SIA, governed by twenty-two leading U.S. semiconductor CEOs, is a trade association representing chip companies in the United States. Mr. Steff supported successful technology partnerships between industry, government, and universities to ensure U.S. competitiveness in the nanotechnology era, while staffing the SIA's Technology Strategy Committee comprised of more than twenty chief technology officers. He oversaw SIA's industry statistics, market analysis, and economics program, serving as the U.S. appointed executive member for the World Semiconductor Trade Statistics program. He served as the U.S. secretariat at the World Semiconductor Council, comprised of leading companies and associations from Europe, Korea, China, Japan, Taiwan, and the U.S and was Executive Chairman of the U.S. Information Technology Office in Beijing. He started his professional career in Washington, D.C. as a member of the trade staff of the Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mr. Steff has served on the Executive Committee of the International Technology Roadmap on Semiconductors, and on advisory boards at IUPUI, Purdue University, and Rochester Institute of Technology. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Battery Innovation Center and a founding Board Member of the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation. He served as an Executive Advisor to the FlexTech Alliance, supporting their successful $171 million bid to the Department of Defense to host a Manufacturing USA institute, now known as NextFlex. Mr. Steff serves on the inaugural advisory board of the George Scalise Center of Excellence for Semiconductors at the Purdue Research Foundation. He is a member of the Nausbaum Society of the Indianapolis Zoo where he serves on the Board's Public Engagement Committee. Mr. Steff graduated magna cum laude from American University where he earned a B.A. in International Studies and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa and Delta Tau Delta. He completed graduate work at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., and received a M.A. in International Science and Technology Policy from the George Washington University.

Matthew J. Kay, Ph.D.


Program Manager

Trusted & Assured Microelectronics

In his current role he provides technical and programmatic oversight of the Trusted and Assured Microelectronics Program. Dr. Kay has served in numerous roles in his over 15 year career with the Navy. In the past, he has served as the Radiation Hardened Technical Execution Area Lead under the T&AM Program, the DoD Unique Needs project area lead for the T&AM Program, the SRHEC Executive Secretariat for OUSD(R&E), and the Navy Representative to the Defense Microelectronics Cross Functional Team (DMCFT).

He has served as a subject matter expert in the area of trusted radiation hardened microelectronics with a focus on memory technology for various services, agencies, and working groups across the USG. Some of the services and agencies he supports as well as collaborates with include the Navy Strategic Systems Program, Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, OUSD(A&S) Office of Nuclear Matters, DARPA, NASA, LANL, NRL, as well as OSD T&AM and JFAC.

Dr. Matthew Kay, native of Hometown, Fla., graduated in 1988 from Wabash College with a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He received his M.S and Ph.D. in Physics from Purdue University’s Physics and Astronomy Department.

Dr. Kay assumed the responsibilities of T&AM Program Manager in November 2022.






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