Aerospace Technical Forum Speaker Bios

Abdoulaye Niasse 

Born on January 16th, 2004 in Dakar (Senegal), I am the third child (oldest boy) from a family of 8. When I was younger, I was always the one that was never understood as I had higher intellectual skills compared to other kids that were my age. I had a hard time socializing which made me distant from kids in my age group. During my free time, I enjoy playing chess, sudoku, mind simulation games...

Growing up, I always been a brilliant student. I started developing a passion for robotics. With the growth of Artificial intelligence, I am confident that robots will take over the world at some point. In middle school, I discovered the world of aeronautics and the many career paths that it offers. From that time on, I decided to explore and learn more about robotics in aeronautics.

Dane Elliott-Lewis 

Dane Elliott-Lewis is an engineer and entrepreneur with over 20 years in the aerospace industry. He has worked in commercial and military aircraft engine design, performance, manufacturing, and management. He serves as Technical Director for Human Spaceflight in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Aerospace Special Interest Group as well as a member of the National Space Society. Dane is an avid science fiction enthusiast and contributor to the Miami International Science Fiction (MiSciFi) Film Festival. He is also a civil war living historian and Board Member of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Company A.

Dane holds science and engineering degrees from Morehouse College, Georgia Tech, and The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He is also Life Member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated.

Danielle E. White

Danielle E. White is a first year Materials Science doctoral student at the University of Southern California, where she works in the Hodge Materials Nanotechnology Research Group under the advisement of Dr. Andrea M. Hodge. She recently earned her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, at which time she became a member of NSBE and has since remained active.

Dennis Powon

Dennis Powon is a senior at Missouri University of Science and Technology working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. He is currently conducting Research under the NSBE Aerospace SIG as an Engineering intern. His interests include Machine Learning, Artificial intelligence, Autonomous systems, Fluid Mechanics, and Air Safety. 

Gael Gatera 

Graduated from Florida Institute of Technology in 2015 with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering where I was introduced to the physical, chemical, and mathematical laws that govern subsonic, sonic, and hypersonic flight. Worked for 3 years at KPS Global as a CAD designer, and associate design engineer (certified six sigma green belt). Certified and sharpened my coding experience in R, Python, SQL from SMU Pro’s Data Science & Analytics program. Completed multiple projects using visualization, statistical and Machine Learning libraries such a ggplot, Matplotlib, Keras and TensorFlow. Holds a master’s degree in Mathematical Modelling for Data Science & Engineering at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Taught how to optimize complex algorithms such as Astar, dijkstra and genetic algorithms in C (programming language) and Python, which form the basis for deterministic and stochastic Machine Learning models such as neural-networks and decision trees. Was a part time intern at Mitiga Solutions SL, spin-off from Barcelona’s Supercomputing Center MareNostrum (ranks at 15th most powerful computer in the world) Spring 2020. Part time contractor at Barcelona’s Computer Vision Center where I am supporting research for the e-pilots.eu research team that looks to reduce pilots workload by integrating Data Driven assistance through Machine Learning solutions. 

Born on January 16th, 2004 in Dakar (Senegal), I am the third child (oldest boy) from a family of 8. When I was younger, I was always the one that was never understood as I had higher intellectual skills compared to other kids that were my age. I had a hard time socializing which made me distant from kids in my age group. During my free time, I enjoy playing chess, sudoku, mind simulation games...

Growing up, I always been a brilliant student. I started developing a passion for robotics. With the growth of Artificial intelligence, I am confident that robots will take over the world at some point. In middle school, I discovered the world of aeronautics and the many career paths that it offers. From that time on, I decided to explore and learn more about robotics in aeronautics.

Simone Holmes  

Simone Holmes is a Network Engineer working to improve the customer experience by  delivering and maintaining the company’s network reliability. She is a native Houstonian that  knew early on she wanted to pursue a career in engineering and was first introduced to it in  high school. After graduating high school her determination and drive of pursuing a career in  Engineering brought her to Texas Southern University (TSU). During her academic studies at  TSU, Simone displayed academic success by maintaining a cumulative GPA of a 3.2 all while  serving campus leadership roles. In her leadership roles, she held office as the chapter  President (2015-2016) and Treasurer (2014-2015) for the National Society of Black Engineers  (NSBE). After a successful summer internship with Comcast, Simone was offered an intent to  hire upon graduation, as a Network Engineer located in Denver, CO. After three years of  exceeding performance goals, Simone was promoted and moved back home to Houston where  she currently resides. Simone holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in  Computer Engineering Technology and is working towards a dual Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering/Space Architecture at the University of Houston. 

Joseph Polk

Joe has 45 years of experience in the Aerospace Engineering field. He started his career at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (Goddard) in Greenbelt, MD in 1975 after receiving a B.S. degree in Mathematics from Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia. He has spent his entire professional career exclusively in support of NASA. His 45 years of support include support of high-profile NASA missions such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, and the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS).

Joe worked for several NASA Goddard contracting companies before starting his own business, Vantage Systems, Inc. in 1992. Joe has served as Vantage Systems’ President and Chief Executive Officer since its inception. Joe is also President and CEO of Vantage Systems’ affiliate company Vantage Partners, LLC. Vantage Partners was named the Small Business Prime Contractor of the Year at NASA’s Glenn Research Center for FY2014 and FY2018.

Under Joe’s leadership Vantage Systems has expanded from a one-person software consulting firm to a highly skilled, highly diverse, and well-respected aerospace engineering services provider capable of taking on most any aerospace engineering challenge. He has instilled his commitment to “total customer satisfaction” as a Vantage Systems company-wide philosophy. 

Joe has won numerous awards and commendations for service to NASA and its missions, including a total of twenty-five awards on nine different NASA missions.

Joe was also named Aerospace Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014 and 2016 by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE).

John M. Horack

John M. Horack, Ph.D., is the inaugural holder of the Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy at The Ohio State University, with tenured, full-professor appointments in the College of Engineering’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs. A 30-year veteran of the spaceflight industry, Dr. Horack also currently serves as the Senior Associate Dean of Engineering at Ohio State, and is a globally-recognized leader in space-based research, flight hardware development, program management, and space policy.

Prior to joining Ohio State in 2016, he served for four years as Vice President of Teledyne Brown Engineering’s Space Systems group in Huntsville, Alabama, with responsibility for overseeing all government and commercial Space programs, including Science, International Space Station

Payload Operations, Test Support, Flight Hardware, Launch Vehicle and Component Development, and Earth Imaging, including the deployment of the MUSES commercial imaging platform to the ISS and the installation of state-of-the-art Hyperspectral instrumentation for commercial remote sensing.

From 2009-2012 Dr. Horack served as Vice President of Research for UAHuntsville, where he  had fiscal oversight for the entire University’s research enterprise, including 14 research centers and laboratories, growing annual research expenditures from ~$65M to nearly $100 million.

Dr. Horack had an impressive career at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) having achieved the level of Senior Executive Service. His last position at NASA was as manager of the Science and Mission Systems Office, where he was responsible for advanced, complex science and exploration research and nearly 400 civil service personnel and contractors. He held several titles while at MSFC, including assistant director of the Space Transportation Programs and Projects Office, assistant director for science communications in the Space Sciences Laboratory, and assistant mission scientist for the Astro-2 payload that flew on the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

Dr. Horack also held the positions of gamma ray astrophysics research scientist; assembly, test, and calibration scientist for the Burst and Transient Source Experiment (BATSE); and resident scientist for spacecraft integration at TRW in Redondo Beach, CA, for assembly and test of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, launched in April 1991 aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis.

He began his NASA career in 1987 after graduating from Northwestern University with a B.A. in physics and astronomy. He earned a M.A. and Ph.D. in physics from UAHuntsville in 1992 and 1993, respectively. He has authored or co-authored more than 100 papers and conference presentations. Dr. Horack has spoken at numerous universities, research institutes, and industrial organizations, and is also a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Astronomical Society, and the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics. Dr. Horack is an FAA licensed private pilot with instrument and commercial pilot ratings, and an FAA flight instructor.

In February 2010, Dr. Horack summited Mt. Kilimanjaro with a group of disabled US combat veterans, members of the waterboys.org non-profit comprised of active and former players from the National Football League, and clean-water advocates, to bring sustainable fresh water solutions to villages and schools in Tanzania as part of Ohio State University’s Global Water Institute activities.

Jolene Pyronneau

Hello, my name is Jolene Pyronneau. Currently, I am a junior attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) studying Aeronautical Engineering. I joined the NSBE Aerospace SIG to improve my technical expertise, meet members in the Aerospace industry, and continue professional  development. At RPI, I am involved in the Design-Build Fly Club, NSBE T.O.R.C.H committee, and a mathematics tutor.

My research project focuses on detecting and preventing corrosion in landing gear systems. The research falls under 2 categories in the Technical Focus Matrix: Next Generation Aerospace Materials, and Aerospace & Space Technology Development. I am excited and look forward to continuous involvement with the NSBE Aerospace SIG.

Juan Anderson  

Juan Anderson is a sophomore mechanical engineering student at Johns Hopkins University minoring in robotics. He is a research assistant in a fluid dynamics multiphase flow lab, the Fluids Transport Lab investigating the mechanics of craters on planetary bodies as a lander’s thrusters impinge onto a planet’s surface for the NASA Artemis mission. Outside of research, he is an active member of the off-road racing team, Baja SAE, where he is leading a team of 8 Johns Hopkins engineering students to design, manufacture, and test a custom continuously variable transmission for the team’s off-road car which races in national competitions. 

Judy E. Wilks

Judy E. Wilks holds a Master of Science in Aviation/Aerospace Operations from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and a Bachelor of Science in Airway Science Management with a Minor in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota.  Currently, Judy is a Project Manager providing consulting services in transmission interconnection with National Grid. She has also served as a program manager, project manager, and project administrator on various aircraft manufacturing and avionics design related projects with Bombardier and CAE.  She participated as a project engineering consultant on the launch team of the CanadArm-2 and on the preliminary design team of the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) [aka Dextre] with the Canadian Space Agency on the International Space Station Project. With the continuous desire to expand her aviation/aerospace knowledge and career, Judy joined NSBE in early 2016 and is a current member of the NSBE Aerospace SIG. 

Ken Gatera

My name is Ken Gatera, I’m a St. Cloud state university student, my major is Electrical engineering and I’m in my senior year. I love sport especially soccer. And I’m an aerospace enthusiast! 

2019 Associate Technical Fellow Award Ceremony

Kerron Duncan

A graduate of Morgan State University, Kerron Duncan is the Director of the Architecture and Engineering organization within the Enterprise Services Sector at Northrop Grumman.  Mr. Duncan leads an organization of Enterprise Architects, Systems Engineers and Data Analytics experts focused on solving complex problems for our customers, accelerating the insertion and adoption of disruptive technologies into our enterprise solutions at the speed of relevance.   Kerron is also the Baltimore chapter co-chair of the African-American Task Group (AATG), an Employee Resource Group at Northrop Grumman. 

Kevin G. Bowcutt  

Dr. Kevin G. Bowcutt is a Principal Senior Technical Fellow & Chief Scientist of Hypersonics for Boeing with 38 years of experience. He is an AIAA Fellow, a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. He holds BS, MS and PhD degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. Dr. Bowcutt is an internationally recognized expert in hypersonic aerodynamics, propulsion integration, and vehicle design and optimization. Notable accomplishments include developing the viscous-optimized hypersonic waverider; flight testing scramjets by launching them from a light gas gun; technically supporting the NASA X-43A scramjet flight test program; originating and optimizing the design of the X-51A scramjet-powered demo vehicle; helping the Space Shuttle Columbia accident investigation by simulating wing aero-thermal-structural failure; and leading Boeing’s contributions to the HIFiRE international hypersonic flight experiment program. In the spring semester of 2007 Dr. Bowcutt was a visiting professor at Princeton University’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department where he taught a course in hypersonic airplane design. Dr. Bowcutt leads Boeing’s advanced design efforts for hypersonic missiles, airplanes and space-planes.

Linda Thomas

Linda is a retired Technical Fellow and system safety engineer of Boeing Defense Space and Security (BDS) in Renton, WA. Her last position was BDS Chemical Risk Assessment leader, identifying opportunities to reduce BDS program risk from chemical obsolescence and bans resulting from environmental, safety and health regulations. Her previous careers at Boeing included corrosion prevention and control, facility hazardous waste management, and system safety for a variety of Boeing defense and space products.  She was recognized for pioneering practices for integrating design for the environment into product design.

Linda is sought as a speaker and facilitator to schools and colleges in her community, and across the United States.  She has been a volunteer in the Issaquah Public School District where her son is a graduate, on numerous activities from music to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. She is currently an industry representative to the school district’s STEM advisory committee.  She also volunteers in STEM events sponsored by the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).  She is a member of the SWE Senate and the International System Safety Society’s Director of Member Services.

A native of Washington, DC, Linda received a BS in chemical engineering from Howard University, and a MS in systems architecture and engineering from the University of Southern California. Linda’s hobbies include performing as an amateur clarinetist with bands and orchestras in the Seattle metropolitan area, gardening, and photography. She currently resides in Newcastle, WA with her family.

Linda’s career accomplishments have been recognized by the National Society of Black Engineers as Celestial Torch Outstanding Woman in Aerospace. Other recognitions include the Society of Women Engineers, as a Fellow, Woman Engineer You Should Know, and Distinguished Service Award; the Puget Sound Engineering Council as Industry Engineer of the Year; Black Engineer of the Year Awards as Modern Day Technology Leader. She was also featured in the Boeing 2014 Environment Report, and their campaign #WomenMakeUsBetter for the 2017 International Women’s Day.

Marion L. Johnson

Marion Lee Johnson attended Talladega College; Talladega, Alabama majoring in mathematics. After graduating from Talladega College, she began her career as an Associate Engineer at The Boeing Company, Huntsville, Alabama in 1967. Boeing was a leader in building the Apollo Saturn V rocket.

Marion Lee Johnson was assigned to the Launch Systems Branch at Boeing, and worked on the NASA project for the Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA), under the direction of the legendary Wernher von Braun and Arthur Rudolph.

While working on the Boeing/NASA team in 1967, Marion Lee Johnson was responsible for preparing data inputs for simulation of vehicle piece impact trajectories. Marion received significant commendations in March of 1969 for an incredible perfect score of 20 successful missions, in 20 attempts. Boeing also recognized Marion for her dedication, technical competence, and high standards of achievements in contributing to America’s successful First Manned Lunar Landing Mission on July 20, 1969, where Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Marion’s name is enshrined in the Apollo/Saturn V Roll of Honor. A copy of this historic roll is in the Library of Congress, as well as the Smithsonian Institution, both in Washington, D.C. (also see, http://abc7ny.com/1815282/)

Following her two-year mission with Boeing/NASA, Marion was employed at Pfizer, Inc., and retired as a Project Leader after 26 years of service. She later worked at the Branford Hall Career Institute, formerly known as the Chubb Institute, as a Computer Networking and Security Instructor, where she received the “Award of Excellence” for dedicated service and outstanding accomplishments. Marion has received numerous awards. In June 2017, Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders has named June 2nd as “Marion Johnson Day” in Union County, New Jersey. Additionally, she received the Key to the City of Plainfield, New Jersey by the Mayor, and June 8th. was named as “Marion Johnson Day” in the City of Plainfield. During that year, she received the “Hidden Figures Award” for her accomplishments in the Apollo 11 Space Program, and was the recipient of the 1010 WINS News, New York “Visionary Award for 2017.” Additionally, The Central Jersey Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. honored Marion with the P. Merle Wade Trailblazer Award in December 2017. In February 2018, Marion was the keynote speaker at the Rutgers University, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where she talked about the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in the global economy. In April 2018, Marion was the keynote speaker at the Carter G. Woodson African American Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she was honored as one of the “First Ladies” for her contributions to science and contributing to the First Manned Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Mission in July 1969. In May 2018, the Chatham County Board of Commissioners of Georgia proclaimed Friday, May 4th “Marion Lee Johnson Day” in Chatham County, Georgia. During that month, the Mayor of the City of Savannah, Georgia, named May 6 as “Marion Lee Johnson Day” in Savannah, GA for her contributions in the field of math, engineering, technology and in America as a whole. In February 2020, Marion was honored at the Cincinnati Museum Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, while being  the key note lecturer for “Destination Moon,” in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo II first manned lunar landing mission.

Patrick Paschulti 

Patrick is a second year PhD student in Aerospace Engineering Sciences at the University of Colorado - Boulder working with Prof. David Klaus in Bioastronautics. As part of NASA Habitats optimized for Missions of Exploration Space Technology Research Institute (HOME STRI) his research is focusing on the analysis of smart-technology enabled anomaly response systems for deep-space habitat applications. Patrick was born and raised in Augsburg, Germany where he received his IHK certificate (equiv. associate degree) in computer engineering in 2010. After attending the University of Applied Sciences in Augsburg, he transferred to the University of Alabama and graduated with his B.S. in mechanical engineering in 2018. During his undergraduate career, he spent multiple semesters interning at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) working on the informatics subsystem for the next generation spacesuit developing the mechanical design for a new camera and lighting system as well as Human-in-the-Loop testing of augmented-reality Extravehicular Activity (EVA) systems. Additionally, Patrick interned one semester at NASA Langley Research Center conducting research on materials for inflatable habitats.  

Sharma Gowreea 

With over ten years of invaluable working experience in Airport Management & Operations, Sharma Gowreea is currently the Business Development Executive for the West Africa Aeronautical Events (WAAE), a new startup in Senegal.

Sharma is passionate about this sector, where his career started as an Airport Security Officer. He graduated from the University of Mauritius with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management, followed by a Specialized Master’s Degree in Airport Management & Operations from the prestigious Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC) in Toulouse.

Throughout his professional journey he had the opportunity to learn from and work for Aéroports de Paris (ADP) in France, Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) in South Korea and more recently Egis Aviation as Airport Consultant.

Ravindra Raj Bm

RAVINDRA RAJ BM, a self motivated person with passion to develop the Space Technology. His love for space, made him to entails a wide spectrum of different skills in various  domains i.e. in Engineering, Business, Finance and Law. Which play a important role for him to start his Entrepreneurial Journey. He is the founder member and the director of Omspace Rocket and Exploration Pvt. Ltd.  He has a vision : in coming years we will be a multi-planetary species. To achieve such goal it is require to develope the Rocket Technology and make the space available for everyone to explore. His venture working on developing a hi-tech rocket and also promoting the space education. This will be a small contribution to develop the space technology of the world. 

He graduated with Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering from North Eastern Regional Institute of Science  and Technology, deemed University and Completed Post graduation i.e. Master's in the Power Electronics and Drives. from National Institute of Technology, Mizoram, India. He has the Master's  project thesis on 'Power Drive System for Aerospace application' and Bachelor's project thesis on 'Robust controller design of unstable and integrated time delay system'. He also written a paper on 'Electric Propulsion System for Space Mission'. His engagement in the M.Tech thesis has exposed himself to a variety of industry opportunities and he made good contacts.

He also Qualified National Level Exams : GATE 2016, GATE 2017 & GATE 2018. He successfully completed many International courses with Coursera with excellent grades from University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, Georgia Institute of Technology, etc. 

He has experience in some Indian Space Startups for approx three years. He has successfully contributed on many project during his internships periods in Aerospace Engg. deptt, Indian Institute of Technology(s),. He also worked as free lancer in various project related to Space Launch vehicles. During is journey he gained many technical and Non-Technical and managerial skills.

He is also a successful trader. He has more than three years experience in  Indian stock market. He has a good knowledge of financial market of India.

Other than this he is also a good sketch artist. He has the hobby since his schooling. He is also a good Photographer and contribute his photo in many online agency like adobe stock and Shutter stock. He accomplished many certification in Photography and videography . He also love sci-fi movies. He also have love for music. He play Piano keyboards in his free time.

Ronald Freeman

Ronald Freeman is the Vice-chair of Space Operations and Support Technical Committee, AIAA (American Institute of Aeronautic and Astronautics). He is an investigative writer in the aerospace industry with more than ten years as a frequent  presenter of technical papers at AIAA conferences. Ron completed his PhD in Technology Management at Northcentral University, MAS in Aerospace Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and BA degree in Mathematics from the Defiance College (OH). Ron is an active member in the District of Columbia Science Writers Association and Rockville Science Cafe (MD).

Samuel Etim

Dr. Samuel Etim currently manage cross-functional systems engineering and analysis teams on On-Board Oxygen Generating System (OBOGS) and On-Board Inert Gas Generation System (OBIGGS) for over 10 development and IRAD programs.

Before joining CMS, Dr. Etim worked at Collins Aerospace/UTC Aerospace Systems of United Technologies in Rockford, IL as a Systems Integration Product Team (SIPT) Lead, Cost Account Manager(CAM), and Component Integration Product Team (CIPT) lead on Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), Boeing 787, Gripen NG, Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), and F-22. He began his engineering career working at the Boeing Company/McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company, Electronics Data Systems, General Graphics, and at Continental Data Graphics, all in southern CA.

Dr. Etim holds a Doctor of Business Administration degree, with Specialization in Project Management, from NCU, AZ; a Master of Engineering Management (MEM) from UW-Madison; and Bachelor of Science in Electronic Engineering (BSEE) from PSU, CA. 

He is a member of SAE (S-18) Aircraft Systems Development & Safety Assessment Committee and  International Business Honor Society.

Sherif Ali

Sherif Ali is a senior leader at GE Aviation Systems. His current focus is in the area of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Autonomous Operation.

Before joining GE, Sherif served on the AFCS design teams at Honeywell, Rockwell Collins, and Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation. In recognition of Sherif’s contributions he chaired RTCA Special Committee for Automatic Flight Guidance and Control System (SC-220). Sherif’s “Autopilot” design contributions touched most of the modern Aircrafts in service today.

Sherif Attained his Ph.D. in Aerospace  Engineering from Arizona State University. He is an Associate Fellow for AIAA. Sherif has 26 published papers and 3 patents. 

Troy P. Bernier

Troy P. Bernier is a Geoscientist who has worked extensively in West Africa, Europe, and the United States. Professionally licensed in the States of Florida, North Carolina and Louisiana, he has worked as a project scientist for Azimuth Energy, Dept of Commerce, Synterra, Hydrocarbon Imaging, U.S. Geological Survey, Western Geophysical, H2OResource, and as an educator with Florida Memorial University and Miami-Dade College.  Mr. Bernier served on the Miami-Dade 2018-19 SAS-C grant panel, where over $850,000 of grants went to nearly 40 Miami-Dade Summer camps.  

Mr. Bernier is a geoscience doctoral candidate at Florida Atlantic University and President of the Florida Association of Professional Geologists, the Florida section wing to the American Institute of Professional Geologists

Vanessa E. Wyche

Vanessa E. Wyche is deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), an organization of nearly 10,000 civil service and contractor employees in Houston and White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She assists with leadership of a broad range of human spaceflight activities, including NASA’s astronauts, Mission Control, development and operation of human spacecraft in low-Earth orbit and plans for human missions to the Moon and Mars.

Prior to her position as deputy director, Wyche served as the director of the Exploration Integration and Science Directorate at JSC where she provided executive guidance and direction of a multi-disciplined organization to enable human and robotic exploration of deep space.

Wyche previously served as acting deputy director of JSC from September 2017 to February 2018.

A native of South Carolina, Vanessa earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Master of Science in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

Before joining JSC in 1989, she worked for the Food and Drug Administration in Washington D.C. Throughout the span of her career with NASA, she has held several other distinguished leadership positions including: assistant director of JSC; flight manager of several missions of the retired Space Shuttle Program, executive officer in the Office of the NASA Administrator and led center-level technical and program organizations.

A strong supporter of Innovation and Inclusion (I&I) at JSC, Wyche has served as a member of JSC’s I&I Council and co-executive sponsor of “Emerge,” an employee resource group for early career employees. She advocates mentoring and is a passionate promoter of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Wyche serves on multiple boards, including chair of Space Center Houston, and advisory board member of Houston Exponential, SpaceCom and the NASA College Scholarship Foundation.

She has received numerous honors from NASA, notably, two Outstanding Leadership Medals, two Achievement Medals, and is a 2014 Women at NASA awardee. She has been recognized externally as a national “2016 Women Worth Watching” honoree by Profiles in Diversity Journal,

a 2017 “Inspiring Woman from South Carolina” by Coastal Carolina University, and was inducted into the Thomas Green Clemson Academy of Engineers and Scientists at Clemson University in 2019.

Follow Wyche on Twitter at twitter.com/V_Wyche.

Gregory Robinson

Mr. Robinson is currently the Program Director of the James Webb Space Telescope (Webb).  His focus is development efficiency, management processes, contractor performance, and mission success.  Formerly the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs; ensuring high performance during development and operations of 114 Science flight projects.  

Mr. Robinson held the position of Deputy Director of NASA’s John Glenn Research Center, consisting of 3,200 employees, where the scope spans research and technology, aeronautics, science spaceflight, and human spaceflight.  He served as NASA’s Deputy Chief Engineer for several years where he led engineering and program and project management strategy, policy, implementation rigor, and performance management. He was intricately engaged with the last 21 shuttle launches post Columbia Shuttle accident, as well as numerous satellite developments and launches.  

Mr. Robinson also served as Deputy Assistant Administrator for Systems at NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, leading the acquisition and management of all satellite systems. He spent 11 years in various leadership positions at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

Mr. Robinson has over 30 years of engineering, program and project management, and senior executive leadership at NASA

Mr. Robinson serves as faculty at Columbia University, School of Professional Studies.

Mr. Robinson served as faculty at the George Washington University, Department of Engineering Management & Systems Engineering.

He received the Presidential Distinguished Executive Rank Award in 2013, and the Presidential Meritorious Executive Rank Award in 2007.


Masters Degree in Business Administration, Averett University 

Bachelors Degree in Electrical Engineering, Howard University

Bachelors Degree in Mathematics, Virginia Union University

Harvard Senior Executive Fellows Program, Harvard University