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Program Mentors


Robyn Gatens

Director, International Space Station, NASA HQ

Ms. Robyn Gatens is the director of the International Space Station (ISS) in the Human Exploration and Operations mission directorate at NASA Headquarters. She is also an agency senior expert for environmental control and life support (ECLSS) and crew health and performance systems.

As ISS director, Gatens leads strategy, policy, integration, and stakeholder engagement for the space station program at the agency level, including use of the station for research and technology demonstrations including to support NASA’s Artemis missions, and activities to secure an ongoing U.S. presence in low-Earth orbit (LEO) by enabling a successful, long-term private sector commercial LEO space economy.  She also serves as NASA’s liaison to the ISS National Laboratory.

Gatens is the recipient of NASA’s Outstanding Leadership and Exceptional Achievement Medals and holds a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology.


Mary Cleave

Academic Year 2022-2023

Dr. Cleave held graduate research, research phycologist, and research engineer assignments in the Ecology Center and the Utah Water Research Laboratory at Utah State University from September 1971 to June 1980. Her work included research on the productivity of the algal component of cold desert soil crusts in the Great Basin Desert south of Snowville, Utah; algal removal with intermittent sand filtration and prediction of minimum river flow necessary to maintain certain game fish; the effects of increased salinity and oil shale leachates on freshwater phytoplankton productivity; development of the Surface Impoundment Assessment document and computer program (FORTRAN) for current and future processing of data from surface impoundments in Utah; and design and implementation of an algal bioassay center and a workshop for bioassay techniques for the Intermountain West.

Dr. Cleave was selected as an astronaut in May 1980. Her technical assignments have included: flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL); CAPCOM on five Space Shuttle flights; Malfunctions Procedures Book; Crew Equipment Design. A veteran of two space flights, Dr. Cleave has logged a total of 10 days, 22 hours, 02 minutes, 24 seconds in space, orbited the earth 172 times and traveled 3.94 million miles. She was a mission specialist on STS 61-B (November 26 to December 3, 1985) and STS-30 (May 4-8, 1989). Dr. Cleave left JSC in May 1991 to join NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. She worked in the Laboratory for Hydrospheric Processes as the Project Manager for SeaWiFS (Sea-viewing, Wide-Field-of-view-Sensor), an ocean color sensor which is monitoring vegetation globally. Dr. Cleave next served as Deputy Associate Administrator (Advanced Planning), Office of Earth Science, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. Dr. Cleave retired from NASA in February 2007.

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Sharon Conover

Director, Space Architecture & Design for Orbital Destinations, Blue Origin


Anna Fisher

Anna Fisher, M.D.

After graduating from UCLA in 1971, Fisher spent a year in graduate school, working in the field of x-ray crystallographic studies of metallocarbonanes. She co-authored three publications relating to these studies for the Journal of Inorganic Chemistry. She began medical school at UCLA in 1972 and, following graduation in 1976, commenced a one year internship at Harbor General Hospital in Torrance, California. After completing that internship, she specialized in emergency medicine and worked in several hospitals in the Los Angeles area.

Fisher was selected as an astronaut by NASA in January 1978. In August 1979, she completed a one year training and evaluation period, making her eligible for assignment as a mission specialist on space shuttle flight crews. Following her completion of training, Fisher’s early NASA assignments (pre-STS-1 through STS-4) included the following: crew representative to support development and testing of the Remote Manipulator System (RMS); crew representative to support development and testing of payload bay door contingency spacewalk procedures, the extra-small Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) and contingency in-orbit Thermal Protection System (TPS) repair hardware and procedures; verification of flight software at the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory (SAIL), where she reviewed test requirements and procedures for ascent, in-orbit and Risk Management System (RMS) software verification; and crew evaluator for verification and development testing for STS2, 3 and 4.

From STS-5 through STS-7, Fisher was assigned as a crew representative to support vehicle integrated testing and payload testing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida. In addition, Fisher supported each Orbital Flight Test (STS-1 through STS-4) launch and landing (at prime or backup sites) as a physician in the rescue helicopter and provided both medical and operational inputs on the development of rescue procedures. Fisher was also an in-orbit Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) for the STS-9 mission.

Fisher was a mission specialist on STS-51A, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, on November 8, 1984. She was accompanied by mission commander Frederick (Rick) Hauck pilot David M. Walker, and fellow mission specialists, Joseph P. Allen and Dale H. Gardner. This was the second flight of the orbiter Discovery. During the mission, the crew deployed two satellites: Canada’s Anik D-2 (Telesat H) and Hughes’ LEASAT-1 (Syncom IV-1) and operated the Radiation Monitoring Equipment (RME) device and the 3M Company’s Diffusive Mixing of Organic Solutions (DMOS) experiment. As the first space salvage mission, the crew also retrieved the Palapa B-2 and Westar VI satellites for return to Earth. STS-51A completed 127 Earth orbits before landing at Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 1984. With the completion of her first flight, Fisher logged a total of 192 hours in space.

Fisher was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-61H, prior to the Challenger accident. Following the accident, she worked as the deputy of the Mission Development branch of the Astronaut Office and as the astronaut office representative for Flight Data File issues. In that capacity, she served as the crew representative on the Crew Procedures Change Board. Fisher served on the Astronaut Selection Board for the 1987 class of astronauts. Fisher also served in the Space Station Support office, where she worked part time in the Space Station Operations branch. She was the crew representative supporting space station development in the areas of training, operations concepts and the health maintenance facility

From 1989 through 1995, Fisher was on a leave of absence from the Astronaut Office to raise her family, returning in January 1996. From 1996 through 2002, during the early phase of building the International Space Station (ISS), Fisher was the chief of the Space Station branch. In that capacity, she coordinated inputs to the operations of the space station for the Astronaut Office, working closely with all the international partners and supervising assigned astronauts and engineers. From January 2011 through August 2013, Fisher served as an ISS Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) working in the Mission Control Center and was also the lead CAPCOM for Expedition 33. Currently, Fisher is a management astronaut, working on display development for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV).

Alinda Mashiku, Ph.D.

Alinda Mashiku, Ph.D.

Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis (CARA) Program Manager, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Dr. Alinda Mashiku is the Conjunction Assessment Risk Analysis (CARA) Program Manager at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center since August 2022. Prior to her current role, she served as the CARA Deputy Program Manager and Technical Lead from 2019. The CARA program is an agency function that is responsible for providing risk analysis for all non-crewed missions for collision avoidance and ensuring the safety of the space environment. In this role, she is responsible for providing technical leadership for ground operations elements, interfacing with multiple mission operations centers and providing oversight in various advanced technologies and engineering application areas. Dr. Mashiku joined the CARA team in 2018 as a CARA Systems and Research Engineer performing analysis and research for operational support in various areas such as data analytics for machine learning and artificial intelligence for conjunction assessment and risk analysis.
Dr. Mashiku joined NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in 2013 after completing her PhD as a NASA GSRP fellow, supporting various missions as a spacecraft navigation and mission trajectory design engineer. From the time she joined NASA, she worked on the OSIRIS-Rex mission performing several tasks such as reconnaissance-site targeting, trajectory dispersion analysis, solar radiation pressure and thermal effects for orbit stability and satellite interplanetary orbit determination. She also spent some time working on the James Webb Space Telescope analyzing the libration orbit control-box dispersions from the launch window analysis outputs.
D. Marshall Porterfield

Barbara Morgan

Barbara Morgan is an educator and retired NASA astronaut. Morgan is the public elementary school teacher who trained with the Challenger crew as the back-up for Teacher in Space Christa McAuliffe, then later served as a NASA astronaut for 10 years. She is now Distinguished Educator in Residence, Emeritus, at Boise State University.

Morgan graduated with honors and a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Stanford University. She earned her teaching credential at College of Notre Dame (Notre Dame de Namur University). She taught public school for 24 years in diverse locations including the Bay Area in California, the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, a small mountain town in Idaho, and Colegio Americano in Quito, Ecuador. In 1985, Morgan (back-up) and Christa McAuliffe (Teacher in Space) were selected to train with the space shuttle Challenger crew. After that mission ended tragically shortly after lift-off with the loss of the crew, NASA asked Morgan to continue as Teacher in Space Designee. She returned to her teaching in Idaho and continued to work for NASA, part-time, where her duties included public speaking, educational consulting, curriculum design, and serving on the National Science Foundation’s Task Force for Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering.

NASA selected Morgan to the 1998 astronaut class. She flew 5.3 million miles in space in 2007 on STS-118, a two-week mission to help construct the International Space Station. Her duties included operating the space shuttle and space station robotic arms, serving as loadmaster, assisting the pilots with re-entry and landing, and teaching lessons from orbit to schoolchildren on Earth. In addition to spaceflight, Morgan worked in Mission Control as prime communicator (“Capcom”) with on-orbit crews, and she served in the Space Station Operations Branch and Robotics Branch of the Astronaut Office.

Morgan retired from NASA in 2008 to become Distinguished Educator in Residence at Boise State University, where she represented the university and provided vision and leadership to the State of Idaho, primarily in STEM education. Her work included policy and program development, advocacy, and mentoring. Currently, Morgan works with Boise State University as Emeritus, and continues to work with national and international education organizations, other non-profits, and NASA.

Morgan’s many awards include, most recently, the Columbia University Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service and the inaugural Idaho Medal of Achievement, the state’s highest civilian honor for service. She has earned two honorary doctorates ‒ in science and public service ‒ and has two public schools named after her.

Sheridan Moore, Ph.D.

Sheridan Moore, Ph.D.

Esri, Senior Technical Consultant 

Sheridan Moore is a Remote Sensing Scientist focused on hyper- and multispectral visible and near-infrared imagery with over 10 years of experience. She started her career working at NASA GSFC and has built up an expertise in the space-science realm.

Sheridan is currently a Senior Technical Consultant at Esri, the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping. Her day-to-day consists of providing technical solutions (through ArcGIS software and a python Application Programming Interface), writing proposals, and working with customers to provide the best user-experience.

Grace Robertson

Grace Robertson

ECLS Flight Controller Candidate, Sierra Space

Grace Robertson is a life support systems focused Aerospace Engineer with specific attention to bioregenerative systems utilizing hydroponic plant technologies. She started her career in Integration and Test on the EagleCam payload for Intuitive Machines IM-1 mission, then later as an Instrumentation Systems Engineer at Sierra Space compiling integrated hardware testing expertise.


Grace is currently a life support and thermal control systems flight controller candidate at Sierra Space focused on certification for Dream Chaser Mission 1. Her daily work consists of leading integrated Dream Chaser vehicle testing, preparing flight rules, and training in flight operations simulations.


Valerie Wiesner

Valerie Wiesner, Ph.D.

NASA Langley Research Center

Dr. Valerie Wiesner is a Senior Research Materials Engineer in the Advanced Materials and Processing Branch at NASA Langley Research Center (LaRC) in Hampton, Virginia. She recently served as Acting Assistant Branch Head for the Crew Systems and Aviation Operations Branch at LaRC in 2022. Her research focuses on developing and understanding degradation of ceramic coatings and composites for extreme environment applications ranging from reusable hypersonic vehicles to lunar and planetary exploration and surface operations, as well as on ceramic processing and additive manufacturing.

Prior to joining LaRC in 2019, she began her NASA career as a Research Materials Engineer in the Ceramic and Polymer Composites Branch at NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC) in Cleveland, Ohio, in 2014 after completing a Pathways Internship as a Ph.D. student. She served as lead investigator for evaluating damage of environmental barrier coatings designed to protect ceramic matrix composite components caused by particulates, such as sand and volcanic ash, when ingested by aircraft engines.

Amy Ross

Amy Ross

Space Suit Pressure Garment Technical Discipline Lead

Amy Ross is a distinguished aerospace engineer and the Space Suit Pressure Garment Technical Discipline Lead at the Johnson Space Center. With over two decades at NASA, Amy has held key roles, including Assistant Chief Engineer for the International Space Station Program and lead on the Exploration Extra-vehicular Mobility Unit (xEMU) Pressure Garment Subsystem. Her educational background includes a Master's degree in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota and a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. Amy's impressive career encompasses managing critical aerospace projects, such as Shuttle space suit gloves and launch and entry suit gloves, and diverse experiences, from SCUBA diving in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory to simulated lunar gravity testing. Beyond her work, she is passionate about animal rescue, dog agility, reading, hiking, backpacking, and travel. Amy Ross is a true pioneer in aerospace engineering, combining technical expertise with a commitment to space exploration and personal adventure.