SGAC Announces the Winners of SGAC's 2011 Young Leader Scholarships

22 September, 2011

SGAC awards thirteen of its most dedicated volunteers with scholarships to attend the Space Generation Congress 2011.

SGAC Announces the Winners of SGAC's 2011 Young Leader Scholarships

22 September, 2011

SGAC has awarded 13 university students and young professionals with SGAC Young Leader Scholarships.  These scholarships are given annually to SGAC's top volunteers to allow them to attend the Space Generation Congress.  The winners have been indispensable assets to SGAC over the past year and more. To learn more about the winners, see their biographies and quotes below.


2011 SGAC Young Leader Scholarships

Chris Vasko

editSMALL_VaskoChris_InternChristopher was born in Vienna, Austria. After finishing high school in Vienna he chose to study Physics at the Vienna University of Technology, which brought him in contact with the topic of space and research from a scientific perspective. During his studies he became an active voluntary member of the Austrian Space Forum (ÖWF) where he participated as an engineer in various national projects such as a simulated mission to Mars using the Mars Desert Research Facilities in the United States, assisted in developing and constructing a remote controlled rover and a stratospheric balloon. In 2007, Christopher participated in the ESA Summerschool Alpbach program, as elected Team Leader and Head of Engineers. Their mission concept was awarded ESA's "Young Lunar Scientist Project" in 2007. During his last years at the university he worked as an intern at a small privately held Austrian company, developing a novel plasma engine for space applications and finally wrote his thesis on the impact of highly charged ions on surfaces at the Vienna University of Technology. After this, Christopher interned at the European Space Policy institute, interned at the SGAC Vienna office and worked as scientific advisor for an international think-tank based in Germany. Christopher is currently doing his PhD in applied physics at the Eindhoven University of Technology.  Since 2009, Christopher has been an active volunteer as one of the SGAC webeditors and National Point of Contact for Austria.

“I would like to thank SGAC for this outstanding opportunity to attend the tenth annual congress in Cape Town, said Chris on the prospect of heading to Cape Town. I am proud to be part of the Space Generation and I feel honoured to join the brightest and most highly motivated of young space professionals in this outstanding event. SGAC fuels dreams and makes it possible to bring together so many young minds, regardless of borders, background or nationalities. Thank you!”


Marc Cornwall

editSMALL_Marc_Cornwall_NPoC_JamaicaMarc is a Jamaican with an affinity to space, science and the visual and musical arts. He spent the first two decades of his life in Jamaica, in the latter years starting study for a BSc in Pure and Applied Science at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and completing his BSc in Astronomy, Space Science and Astrophysics at the University of Kent at Canterbury (UKC) in the United Kingdom (UK). He then left the UK across the English Channel, where, upon crossing La Manche and arriving in France he spent a whirlwind year at the International Space University (ISU), in Strasbourg obtaining his MSc in Space Studies. It was during the transition from UKC to ISU that he was introduced to the SGAC, increasing his participation in the organisation with time. He has been NPoC for Jamaica since 2007 and works within the Communications and Public Relations team to enhance SGAC’s visual presence. Marc currently resides in the UK as a research student in planetary geophysics.

“I am delighted to have won the SGAC Young Leader Scholarship which facilitates my attendance at the 10th Space Generation Congress (SGC), in Africa!  I am looking forward to meeting the people that I’ve been colleagues with for several years now. SGC is a solid platform for the emergence of new, innovative ideas from a young community of people with an interest in space. It is the arena where global youth who want to have an impact on space policy can bring their unique perspectives to the table. It is my intention, therefore, to bring a Jamaican voice to SGC and take back some valuable information for the policy makers of my country. I will also make best of the chance to experience Cape Town as I go 'back to Africa.' It will be my first trip to Africa but – according to one theory of evolution – if any of us look back far enough on our family tree, that’s where we’re all coming from.”


H. Aziz Kayihan

editSMALL_Aziz_Kahiyan_RCH. Aziz Kayıhan was born in Denizli, Turkey. He is studying on Astronomy and Space Sciences in Erciyes University. He's finalising his bachelor studies. Out of being an astronomer, he is an actor, scenarist and director. He is acting on stages for over 10 years. He participated in various volunteer organizations related to astronomy, space sciences and theatre. He joined a local astronomy society in 2004 and served as the chair of the society for 3 years, organizing several activities. He was the Yuri’s Night Event organizer for Kayseri from 2005 to 2011. He is the current Co-Director of Outreach for Yuri's Night organisation. He joined SGAC in 2008 becoming the National Point of Contact for Turkey. He is involved in SGC ’09 as staff and was the SGC ’09 Staff Leadership Award delegate. He is one of the six panelists of the IAF Youth Plenary on Earth Observations. He is currently serving as the Middle East Regional Coordinator and Web Editor of SGAC.

"I am very happy about being received the SGC 2011 Young Leader Award. While it makes me able to go to South Africa for SGC, it wil also help extend my efforts for SGC 2011 and also SGAC by being there among my colleagues and friends. I have been with SGAC for more than three years so far and many more to come. I will help making SGAC a great organisation for the following years as well.”


Juergen Schlutz

editSMALL_Juergen_Schlutz_NPoC_GermanyJuergen Schlutz is a German aerospace engineer with a solid background in conceptual design, space exploration architectures and lunar mission design. He received a diploma in aerospace engineering at the University of Stuttgart, Germany, in 2005, specializing in space systems and control theory. Between 2000 and 2005, he has been an active member and coordinator of the propulsion team for the SSETI Express (launched 2005) and ESEO student satellite projects. In 2005 he joined the scientific team around Prof. Ernst Messerschmid at the Institute of Space Systems (IRS) of Stuttgart University as a research associate and lecturer. His research and teaching covered aspects of conceptual human space mission design, while his ongoing PhD work concentrates on methodology and tools for lunar base design. Between 2007 and 2009, Juergen was working as a consultant to ESA in the frame of European exploration architecture studies, where he served as the integrating architect for one of two parallel CDF studies. He continued the architecture work as a member of international working groups (ISECG) for the development of an international lunar reference architecture that was published in 2010. Since May 2010, Juergen is working for the German Space Agency (DLR) in the department of Human Spaceflight, ISS and Exploration.  Besides his professional work, Juergen serves as the National Point of Contact in Germany for the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC). He supports the coordination of regional, national and international projects and events, including the Space Generation Congress and Yuri‘s Night.

"It is a great to receive this award and I am more than just looking forward to joining the Space Generation Congress in Cape Town. I have been an active member of SGAC for the past years and promoting SGAC in Germany and worldwide. It is a reward for me to meet and to discuss with all the space enthusiasts and experts at SGC each year and to make new friends! Thank you so much for the generous support for this SGC and throughout the past years … I hope to continue to contribute to our future as the Space Generation.”


Paul Guthrie

Paul_Guthrie_NPOC_USPaul Guthrie is currently a Senior Analyst and Project Lead at the Tauri Group. He has worked extensively in cross-cutting emerging technology research and projections, and on economic analyses which have been published, distributed, and presented internationally. Paul is a Masters’ candidate at the Johns Hopkins University in Applied Economics; holds a Masters degree in International Science and Technology Policy from the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University; and received BA in Philosophy from the Honors Program at Holy Cross College. Paul is a former member of the United States Rowing Team (2003-2004), and Pan American Games Bronze Medalist (2003) as an athlete; and a two-time US National Championship-winning rowing coach (2009).

"It is a privilege to represent and work to strengthen the generation tasked with addressing the most complex, international, and interdisciplinary challenges we have faced in our history. I take the responsibility very seriously, and thank SGAC and its supporters for the honor.”


Yohan Ferreira

editSMALL_Yohan_Ferreira_RC_AsiaPacYohan Ferreira from Sri Lanka is the SGAC Regional Coordinator for Asia Pacific and is an Associate Business Analyst at Interblocks Limited, a Sri Lankan company which develops IT solutions for the local and international banking industry. He also works part-time as an educator of the Wendy Whatmore Academy of Speech & Drama, teaching Speech & Drama, Spoken English, Verse & Prose speaking, Effective Communication skills and Written English to young learners and teenagers. Yohan is a graduate of Wesley College, the Wendy Whatmore Academy of Speech & Drama and the National Institute of Business Management in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He's also a graduate of Trinity College London, UK and the Texas Aerospace Scholars Programme, representing Sri Lanka at the 2002 International Space School summer programme at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Yohan has been a volunteer space education and public outreach coordinator since late 2000 for NASA Quest and also supports the Student Signatures in Space (S3) programme for Space Day. A very keen space advocate, he joined SGAC in January 2007, was a delegate at SGC 2007 in Hyderabad, India and served as the first National Point of Contact for Sri Lanka until 2009. He is founder and manager of "Sky Trackers," a group of over 700 astronomy and space enthusiasts. Yohan was awarded the 2010 Peter Diamandis Scholarship by SGAC for his winning essay titled "Towards Our Future in Space" and attended SGC & IAC 2010 in Prague, Czech Republic. He was awarded the 2002 Hakluyt Prize by the International Mars Society in Colorado, USA, for the best student letter to world leaders advocating a humans-to-Mars mission. He also serves as Internal Communications Administrator on the Executive Board of the International Space School Alumni Association in Toronto, Canada.

“I am thrilled to accept the 2011 Young Leader Scholarship. Thank you very much SGAC for this honour and wonderful support of youth space advocates around the world. I would also like to thank my family and friends for their support and encouragement of my endeavours. I earnestly look forward to visiting the beautiful city of Cape Town and meeting and discussing with space advocates and professionals in South Africa."


Nunzia Paradiso

paradiso_nunzia_NPOC_ItalyNunzia grew up with stars and galaxies in her mind. Her keen interest for space never died down, even though her studies and her passion for life were leading her to explore and experience very different things.  Something important happened the day she discovered that her Master Degree course on International Relations offered a course on Space Law: she could finally link her university studies with her never-ending passion for space! She wrote her final dissertation on the Moon Treaty. She then attended a post-university Master course on Space Policy and Institutions and she was chosen to present it to the UNCOPUOS with a technical presentation. She participated to the ESA/ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy and then went to ESA HQ in Paris for a six-month traineeship. She is currently the SGAC Regional Coordinator for the European Region.

“I jumped for joy when Ariane told me about it! My dear South African friends and all SGC delegates...wait for me, I'm coming!”


Beata Mäihäniemi

editSMALL_Beata_SzczepaniakBeata Mäihäniemi is a PhD student in competition law at the University of Helsinki, Finland. With degrees in Administration, specialising in Finance and Economy she is currently writing her doctoral thesis on antitrust issues; however, she is also interested in space policy and law. Beata has been an active Member of SGAC Communications and PR team since February 2010 and worked as a rapporteur during the SGC 2010 in Prague, Czech Republic. She has been a co-author of one of the reports from the SGC 2010 (Industry group) as well as of two scientific legal articles. Since April 2011, Beata has been working as a SGC Delegate Lead Coordinator and together with her team helped the attendees through all of the stages: applications, delegate selection, delegate coordinating and informing prior to Congress.

"Thank you for this amazing opportunity to join you in Cape Town and for rewarding work of our team! Looking forward to meet you all during the Congress."


Suresh Bhattarai

editSMALL_Suresh_Bhattarai_NPoC_NepalSuresh Bhattarai, an amateur astronomer, traveler, researcher, educator and communicator, has been actively working as a secretary of Nepal Astronomical Society (NASO) for the promotion of astronomy and space science in Nepal since 2007. He earned his B.Sc. in Physics from Tribhuvan University (TU) and currently in the final year of his M.Sc. in Physics (major: Astrophysics and Plasma Physics). Suresh also works on various astronomical projects in Nepal. He along with his team is now busy for modeling of Human Orrery (HO) in collaboration with EurAstro Association , Germany which will be the regional center for Asia. He has been acting as an executive member of EurAstro (IYA2009 International Organizational node) and a Star Peace Ambassador (Star Peace Project- IYA2009 Special Project) since 2009. He's been acting as SGAC's National Point of Contact (NPoC) for Nepal since 2009. He loves travelling to new places and volunteering for different astronomy and space science organisations. He often makes appearances on TV and radio stations in Nepal whenever there is some exciting astronomy events like solar eclipses, lunar eclipses, meteor showers, comet sightings, etc. He enjoys explaining what he knows to locals during his travels different places about astronomy and space science.

“I am very thrilled to know that I have been awarded by 2011 SGAC Young Leader Award to participate in the SGC2011 in Cape Town this September.  I am very thankful to the SGAC community for recognizing me as a young leader and support to attend the SGC2011 so that I can use the platform to interact with like minded people from many countries to develop some vision and team of enthusiastic to take this vision into action in our respective countries. This has really ignite me from inside me to strengthen SGAC network in Nepal engaging more youths through different activities. I suppose this award to me surely motivate the youth of Nepal to join SGAC and work for space science and astronomy in Nepal. Once again, Thank you very much to all of you for your support to my work and wish for the continuity so that we will be able to create a strong SGAC community in Nepal.”

Joyeeta Chatterjee

joyetta_chatterjee_RC_AsiapacJoyeeta Chatterjee has been serving as the Asia-Pacific Regional Coordinator for SGAC since December 2010. Her area of interest is space law and policy, particularly the legal regime governing commercialisation and privatisation of space activities and she also takes a keen interest in efforts towards space safety and sustainability. As a child, she was always fascinated by space and outer space activities. After joining law school, she developed a fervent passion for the discipline of space law because it presented her an opportunity to merge both her childhood fascination and professional interest. She has recently graduated from Gujarat National Law University, India with a B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) degree and will begin her graduate studies as an LL.M. candidate in McGill University, Montreal. She has always made a consistent effort to fuel and pursue her interest in the subject by participating in various summer courses, presenting research papers at several national and international conferences. She had represented her University in the Asia-Pacific Regional Round of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition and had an internship stint at the Indian Space Research Organisation headquarter. Apart from presenting several research papers at various national and international conferences including the International Astronautical Congress 2010, she has also successfully completed the ISU Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Program held at the University of South Australia, Adelaide with full scholarship.Born and brought up in India, she recognises the fundamental needs of developing nations and the potential role that can be played by space technology to ameliorate their condition. She is eagerly interested towards learning the pragmatic intricacies of space law and making valuable contributions to the existing body of knowledge in order to further the future of mankind in space.

“I feel very honoured for being chosen for this very generous award.  I am extremely grateful to SGAC for this opportunity to attend SGC and IAC in Cape Town. SGAC has been doing phenomenal work in promoting the voice of youth in space policy and I am very proud to be a part of such a stellar organisation. It has had an incredible impact on my life by providing me with opportunities I could only have dreamt of. I am really excited about this trip and I am confident that this SGC will be one of the most stunning space events ever! Thank you Space Generation!”

Leandro Ricardo

leandro_ricardo_internCurrently since 2008, Leandro has been studying for a bachelor's degree in international and European law at the Hague University of Applied Sciences (The Netherlands), specialising in international and European commercial law. His interests are particularly focused in the area of international environmental law, space law and aerospace technology. As part of his third year of study, he wrote a paper titled, “Space Debris: A Concern for Contemporary International Space Law."  He is an avid longboarder and likes gazing at stars at night.

“I am very humbled by the scholarship as it is certainly a priviledge with responsibilities I take seriously. Thank you very much to SGAC for making the impossible possible. Ariane, you the man! I am looking forward to meet all the people I have communicated with while interning this summer in person besides speaking about what we have in common, space enthusiasm for the present and future generations.”

Oana Sandu

editSMALL_Oana_Sandu_PROana Sandu works as community coordinator for the education and Public Outreach Department (ePOD) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). She is responsible for the promotion of outreach products or events and the social media presence of both ESO and ESA/Hubble. With a degree in Communication and Public Relations and a Master Degree in Marketing, she worked for two years in a leading Eastern European PR agency from Bucharest. As a volunteer, she was involved in projects such as Global Astronomy Month, World Space Week, UNAWE. Oana has been SGAC's PR & Communication Lead for two years now and she was also involved in the PR team of two previous editions of SGC. She keeps a blog on astronomy communication at, tweets at and posts on

“I am very excited to participate at SGC 2011 as it is a truly unique edition for many reasons: it is the 10th anniversary of the congress; SGC has expanded over the years reaching top level in terms of speakers, participants and topics; it is the first SGC to happen on the continent of Africa. Last but not least, it's an opportunity to meet again with friends from the space generation! Thank you, SGAC, for this scholarship!”

Minoo Rathnasabapathy

editSMALL_Minoo_NPOC_SouthAfricaMinoo is a National Point of Contact for South Africa and co-lead of the SGAC Space Safety and Sustainability(SSS) Working Group. She is currently a PhD candidate in Aerospace Engineering at RMIT University, Australia. Her doctoral research focuses on the impact dynamics of novel materials used in aerospace structures. In addition, Minoo is involved in educational outreach initiatives that aim to engage young South Africans in space science and technology.

“I am privileged to receive the SGAC Young Leaders Award. The Space Generation Congress is a fantastic platform to meet with young space enthusiasts, exchange ideas and discuss the challenges that shape the future of the space industry. I look forward to participating in the 10th Annual SGC, hosted in my home country.”


About SGC 2011


The Space Generation Congress is an annual conference bringing together top young minds from around the world to focus on key space topics. The SGC is the global conference for university students and young professionals interested in today's key space issues. Being the only event of its kind, SGC offers the next generation of space leaders the opportunity to network and to examine critical questions that are facing the space and international community at large.  This year's SGC – the 10th annual event and first ever in Africa – is slated to be one of the most exciting Congresses in SGAC's history. It will take place at the 29 September - 1 October, 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa at the Cape Town Lodge Hotel.

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