2018 Officer Candidates

Here is a list of students registered to run for officer positions as of October 29th, 2018 along with their statement of interest and their top three desired positions.

The deadline to register is October 29th, registration form is here.

Esther Putman
(1) President
(2) DC trip Coordinator
(3) Education, Outreach, and Social chair
As a student passionate about space based research and how it impacts life here on earth, my mission and objectives closely align with those of ASGSR. From my experiences, both with this group and beyond, I know that I can serve as an effective leader on this student board. I bring a diverse perspective and a broad history of leadership, and know that I can help this group define our goals and achieve them. I plan to use my vast industry network to attract more interested students, my organizational skills to help streamline how the student board operates, my passion for STEM and policy outreach to encourage more action on these items, and my skills as a science communicator to help share the mission of ASGSR and educate others on the value of space based research.

Andrew Pelos
DC trip coordinator
As part of the American space research community, ASGSR members are positioned at a nexus of scientific research and U.S. politics, and it’s imperative that we share our unique perspectives in broader political discourses. The society’s annual D.C. trip represents an incredible opportunity for scientists and students to engage directly with policy-makers as representatives of our current research priorities. After working for three summers as a physical and bio-sciences researcher at NASA Ames, I was fortunate enough to participate in the spring 2018 D.C. trip as a volunteer student board member for ASGSR, and the experience gave me key insight to the kinds of broader political impact I could have as a scientist. I hope to continue my work with ASGSR as next cycle’s D.C. trip coordinator, and to continue empowering and enabling scientists to share our perspectives in political spaces.

Nicole Beisel
(1) Education, Outreach, and Social chair
(2) DC trip coordinator
(3) Web and Social Media Manager
My name is Nicole Beisel, and I am a 2nd year PhD student in the University of Florida Space Plants Lab ran by Dr. Anna-Lisa Paul and Dr. Robert Ferl. I focus on studying genetic mechanisms of plant adaptation to spaceflight, which I absolutely love! I have participated in and thoroughly enjoyed several successful outreach events since joining the UF Space Plants Lab, which has motivated me to apply for this position. I am extremely passionate about science communication, and would love to put my enthusiasm for the subject to work by serving as the Education, Outreach, and Social Chair for ASGSR student leadership. Alternatively, I would be happy to contribute to the ASGSR student leadership team by serving as either the DC Trip Coordinator or the Web and Social Media Manager where I feel my organizational skills can be put to good use.

Brandon Califar
(1) DC trip Coordinator
(2) Merchandise Coordinator
My name is Brandon Califar, and I am a second-year student in the UF Genetics and Genomics Ph.D. program. My passion for Space Biology led me to join the UF Space Plants Lab, working under Dr. Robert Ferl and Dr. Anna-Lisa Paul, and I am interested in becoming involved with the student leadership of the ASGSR because I would like to continue as a researcher in this field after completing my degree. Getting an idea of what it is like to serve a society in this context, while also learning more about political advocacy on behalf of the space sciences, would help to direct my own future, as well as that of the ASGSR, in a small-scale but meaningful way.

Mallika Sarma
(1) Web and Social Media Manager
(2) Merchandise Coordinator
(3) Education, Outreach, and Social Chair 
I have had the privilege to serve as an ASGSR student board member for the past two years and from my experience over this time, I have learned that that the ASGSR student board is a critical component to the ASGSR organization and has made valuable contributions to how we interface within the space science community but also outside of it. I am interested in continuing my work in supporting ASGSR on the board through building on the foundation of our current stellar social media outreach and expanding our web presence. With my experience on the board and as webmaster over the past year, I feel confident that we as a group can build on the existing projects we have, develop new projects, and enhance student input to ASGSR.

Kaixin (Kai) Cui
(1) Education, Outreach, and Social Chair 
(2) President Elect
(3) DC Trip Coordinator
I have always been passionate about space research, and I have been fortunate enough to pursue my love of space through various opportunities in the past. As a third year in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, I have worked on various projects related to space on the science and engineering aspects. I also had an amazing opportunity to work at NASA Ames on space biology project. I would love to inspire other students to be as enthusiastic about space research and show the countless opportunities for them to explore the field. The Education, Outreach, and Social Chair on the ASGSR student board would be the perfect position to reach large audiences and influence students. I believe my background and passion will provide a unique perspective to the board, and I hope to contribute my knowledge and skills.

Jordan McKaig
(1) President Elect
(2) Merchandise Coordinator
(3) Education, Outreach, and Social Chair
My name is Jordan McKaig and I am a senior at the University of Michigan studying biology and international studies. My lifelong interest in space led me to the Space Life Sciences Training Program this past summer, where I gained valuable experience in research and leadership while immersing myself in the incredible community of scientists and engineers working in space and gravitational research. At UMich, I have been involved in multiple opportunities related to the mission of ASGSR, including a STEM outreach organization and being the science lead for a Mars rover team. My background in both natural and social sciences has allowed me to explore the interface between science and society as well, fostering an interest in space policy. I hope to apply my experiences and skills in leadership, organization, and communication to the student board of ASGSR.

Elizabeth Talburt
(1) Web and Social Media Manager
(2) Education, Outreach, and Social Chair
(3) Merchandise Coordinator
I am an engineering student at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, an army wife, and lover of space exploration and research. This past summer, I participated in the Space Life Sciences Training Program (SLSTP) at NASA Ames. While an SLSTP student, I was afforded the opportunity to present my summer research at ASGSR 2018. I would love to be a member of ASGSR student leadership to participate in outreach and raise awareness to other future scientists and engineers. I have served as a web manager for a previous internship and did educational outreach for a local nonprofit; I would like the opportunity to apply the skills to ASGSR student leadership. The ASGSR community brings together diverse individuals who share a common interest in space research, which is a rich educational resource for those interested in the field.


ASGSR Student Panel at ISSRDC

The ASGSR student group will be organizing a panel of student researchers at the upcoming International Space Station Research and Development Conference (issconference.org). The panel will be a part of the University Engagement program, where university students from the surrounding areas are invited to take part in a free event to learn about space station research and network with industry experts. We will be presenting on our stories getting involved with the space station and advice for other students who are interested in space research.

Attending this panel and other events (including astronaut presentation, career panel, and networking reception) is free for university students, just RSVP!

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ASGSR Students Launch Slack Group

Hey students,

We are announcing the launch of an ASGSR student Slack channel designed for students who love space research to share opportunities, talk about their research, and discuss upcoming conferences.

In addition, this group will be used to coordinate student activities at the upcoming 2018 ASGSR conference in Washington DC. Students will be able to coordinate room-sharing, make plans for social events, and meet other student members all before the conference begins.

To be invited to the group, please send an email to students@asgsr.org, or use the contact form. For safety/privacy reasons, please let us know your age and school.

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2018 DC Trip

Once again the ASGSR students had a chance to visit DC for a political advocacy trip. While in DC, we attended a workshop entitled Congressional Operations 101, where the executive director of ASGSR gave an overview of how policy making occurs and how to effectively advocate to congressional staff. We learned the importance of both the appropriations and authorizations committees, and how to tailor your message and asks depending on which committee you are addressing. For this trip, our message was asking the appropriations committee to increase the funding for science grants on the space station from $19 million in 2018 to $125 million in 2019. This huge increase is justified because right now the space station is under-utilized, and the government has already invested massive sums of money into its construction and operation; and now just a little bit more investment will allow us to finally start using that investment. For the authorizations committee, we asked for legislation to include space research as a fundamental part of NASA’s budget.

We attended many meetings with political staff on capitol hill, including one meeting that was on the white house grounds. During these meetings, we provided student perspectives on why continued funding for research was so important. Some of the staff we met with were very well-versed on the issues of space and science funding, and others had no experience, so we had to tailor our message for each staffer. We learned about how the government works, including how the federal budget is set. The president submits a suggested budget, then individual congress people submit appropriations requests on behalf of lobbyists, constituents, or themselves. The appropriations committee goes through these requests and edits the president’s suggestions. Once this is done, the budget is presented to everyone and it is voted on.

The second part of the trip was attending the USA Science and Engineering Festival and volunteering there. The Festival was held at the DC convention center, and brought in thousands of people. We volunteered at the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) booth. Student volunteers helped with their space virtual reality demonstration, where participants wear a virtual reality headset and use joysticks to fly through the International Space Station to find the cupula (the large window looking down at the Earth). The intended audience was children aged 12 to 18, though several adults also came to try the headset. The children were really excited by the demonstration. We also helped at the photo booth, where participants pose in front of a backdrop of the space station and were given free photos.


Officer Candidates 2017

Hello everyone!

Thanks to everyone who registered as a candidate and who volunteered to help out! Here are the candidates thus far:

Eric Yarns – Running for Secretary

Hi All, I have been active in the ASGSR community for the past three years, attending and presenting my research in concurrent technical sessions at the last three annual conferences. I would be an exceptional Secretary because I currently manage a spaceflight research project on the ISS that requires an incredible amount of organization, logistics, and coordination. I also could teach a master class on scheduling. I lead meetings with collaborators and colleagues on a weekly basis and understand how to conduct a productive meeting that doesn’t waste the time of those involved. As secretary, I would ensure that my talents in these areas make ASGSR Students more efficient and effective at achieving its goals.

Cheers, Eric Yarns University of Kansas Medical Center Kansas City, Kansas


Anjali Gupta – Running for Career and Personal Strategies Advisor

The student Board functions to enhance the core mission of ASGSR by supporting student scientists interested in space and gravity research. I would like to contribute my time and expertise in supporting this endeavor by serving as a Career and Personal Strategies Advisor. As a “returning” doctoral student, I will bring a wealth of experiences and knowledge to this role. I have extensive experience in advising students, conducting workshops on career-related topics, and developing personalized strategies for achieving work-life balance. In my current term as an ASGSR officer, I conducted a webinar on “Effective Presentation Skills.” In the CAPS Advisor role, I hope to build on such offerings by organizing additional workshops and programs such as careers options, resume guidance, mentoring, networking, personality/skills assessments, career and personal development, and other related topics. Often times, as students, future career options are not so obvious. My goal is to educate and open channels of communication for students and post-docs for these important topics through workshops, webinars, and onsite discussions at future ASGSR meetings. I believe that my prior experience, with careers in industry as a scientist and as a marketing professional, will be a valuable resource for other ASGSR student members.


Meg Cheng-Campbell – Running for DC trip Coordinator

Mallika Sarma – Running for Webmaster


Dan Gove – running for (1) Membership Coordinator, other positions

I’m a strong & versitile performer with a track record of consistency: From about 2009-2012, I was a boardmember of my school district’s YouthFirst Advisory Council. We organized an annual community Halloween party 🎃 , collaborated with community organizations, and focused on the Search Institute’s “40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents.” I’ve been consistantly coordinating the development of adolescents, with a focus on gymnasts, since about 2009 as well. This work has carried me throughout the nation, working for companies such as Seattle Gymnastics Academy, California Sports Center, GymNation (Maine) and more. I’ve trained with all names from all around the world; our conversations have made me personable. All this travel has also made me resourceful. My office constantly moves locations, time zones, etc… However, my work system allows me to keep my edge sharp. I maintain an email list including multinational CEOs, media outlets, and researchers. I’m chasing PhD level research for a short radius human centrifuge, which has the potential to springboard the commercial space industry. I would pounce on this opportunity.