The sixth European Space Generation Workshop is organized by a great team of SGAC volunteers.

You can get to know a little more about them here! 

Organising Team

Michalis Benakis

Michalis Benakis, Cyprus, Event Manager

Michalis Benakis, PhD, is an Electrical and Computer Engineer from Cyprus currently working as a digital transformation and management consultant. 

After receiving his MEng with a direction of Energy Systems, Michalis pursued an MSc in Biomedical Research, investigating inherited cardiomyopathies at the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics. He then pursued a PhD in Applied Physics, focusing on advanced titanium welding in particle physics and aerospace engineering. For his research he was an Associate Engineer at CERN, Switzerland and he spent two years at the Advanced Remanufacturing and Technology Centre in Singapore. He  also holds an MBA.

Michalis is the NPoC of SGAC in Cyprus and has received the 2019 SGAC Middle-East Space Leaders Award.

Eleni Charitonos

Eleni Charitonos, Cyprus, Event Deputy Manager

Eleni Charitonos is the first Cypriot analog astronaut and she is officially working towards becoming an astronaut. She is currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Glasgow.

After her first analog astronaut mission at LunAres, which lasted 19 days, she had completed a 33-day long mission at HI-SEAS, on the volcano Mauna Loa in Hawaii.

Eleni’s passion for space has led her to establish the “Glasgow University Students for the Exploration and Development of Space” – the first student society in the UK conducting research on the “Development of a Human Civilization on Mars”.

Eleni is also the Lead of the Space Safety and Sustainability Essay Competition and a Reports Designer at the Space Generation Advisory Council. Her contribution to the space community was honoured with the UKSEDS “Student of the year” award.

Communication Team

Josh Duncan

Josh Duncan, United Kingdom

Josh Duncan, MPhys, PGCE, is a physicist and advocate for STEM education from the UK.

Following studies at the University of York, Josh trained as a secondary physics teacher. After developing an interest and enthusiasm for outreach and widening participation in STEM, Josh then joined the ESA Education team, supporting a range of activities including the European Astro Pi Challenge and the ESA Education teacher training programme. More recently, Josh has supported teaching programmes in UK prisons and now works as part of the enrichment team at STEM Learning.

Valeria Pinna

Valeria Pinna, Italy

Valeria lives in Italy and has obtained a Master’s Degree in International Relations at the University of Rome La Sapienza. She wrote a thesis in space law and participated to the 2021 ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy. She likes to define herself a space-law enthusiast.

Logistics Team

Nikolena Christofi, Cyprus, Financial Manager

Early stage researcher at the Institute of Research and Technology Saint Exupéry in Toulouse, France, where she is undertaking a PhD thesis in embedded systems. Holds a Mechanical Engineering Diploma from the National Technical University of Athens and an Advanced Masters in Space Systems Engineering from ISAE-SUPAERO. Her research experience includes space systems and robotics, educational robotics, model-based systems engineering, systems dependability and operational diagnosis.

She has delivered more than 100 hours of soft skills training to engineering students all throughout Europe. She has also coached and mentored many younger volunteers and future trainers. Raising awareness about the importance of soft skills development in STEM education and STEM professions, as well as the encouragement of girls’ involvement in STEM studies, are some of the main objectives of her postdoc career.

Jorge Casir

Jorge Ruben Casir Ricano, Mexico

Jorge is a Mexican sixth-year student at Bauman Moscow State Technical University in Moscow, Russia at the specialty “Design, production and operation of rockets and rocket-space complexes”. In 2019, Jorge started working on his graduation thesis in which he is developing, calculating, and designing an automatic interplanetary station with the mission to deliver an unmanned rover to the surface of Mars. In the last year, Jorge has been part of a project group that works on the application of Industry 4.0 in the aerospace industry. At the moment within this project, Jorge developed the visualization in Virtual Reality of the process of stage separation for the whole spacecraft, with real physical equations, all of this with the objective of creating a digital twin of the previously mentioned station. He is a volunteer at the Moon Village Association where he helped organize the Towards a Lunar Generation workshop and SGAC, works as an engineer for the mexican space startup, Dereum Labs.

Frédéric Diapa, Burkina Faso

Frédéric Diapa holds a master’s degree in aerospace engineering and an Advanced master’s degree in corporate finance from Toulouse Business School. He currently works as a finance transformation consultant.

After first experience in the aeronautical industry as an airworthiness engineer, he decided to switch to corporate finance. He worked for General Electric financial department as an engineering financial analyst. Today Frédéric Diapa works as a finance Consultant for an international Audit and Consulting company. He works also for the African Aeronautics & Space Organisation (AASO) as Project leader.

Delegates Team

Ada Ranieri

Ada Ranieri, Italy

Ada Ranieri is a mechanical engineer from Italy who graduated at Politecnico di Bari in 2021. Currently, she is enrolled in an industrial PhD program at Politecnico di Bari, funded by an Italian aerospace company, Sitael SpA. Her research project concerns on a predictive method for shock loads on a multi-application satellite. Her strong curiosity for STEM led her to deepen a wide range of interests, as she is enthusiastic about space and sustainability. Her strong ambition and determination are driven by a tireless thirst for knowledge.

Among her interests, there are also yoga and sailing. Her passion for yoga is something she has cultivated over the years so far as to teach it.

Anastasia Sidorkina, Russian Federation

Anastasia is a 1st year master’s student of the department of Energy systems at Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology. She has a Bachelor Degree in Nuclear Energy and Thermal Physics. She finds herself very interested in the space sphere. In the past year she took part in several workshops including the ones from SGAC to explore more about possibilities of applying her knowledge to the space field and developing herself as a specialist. Anastasia would like to share her experience with people who come from different areas and want to find their way in the space sphere.

Juliana Semione

Juliana Rinaldi Semione, United States

Dr. Juliana Rinaldi Semione is a research fellow and the policy impact lead at the University of Nottingham’s Rights Lab in England.

Juliana supports researchers across the Rights Lab in designing impact pathways involving government, policy, and industry stakeholders. Current Rights Lab projects include “Identifying Indicators of Human Rights Abuse from Space,” “Using Satellite Technology for Sustainability,” and “Slavery from Space.” Juliana’s own research interests are in space ethics from a human values perspective and future directions for cross-sector initiatives in aerospace production.

Juliana holds an MA in global ethics and human values from King’s College London and a PhD in politics and contemporary history from the University of Nottingham. She is also an Associate of King’s College.

Programme Team

Alvaro Menduina

Alvaro Menduina, Spain

Alvaro Menduina has recently completed a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Oxford and he is currently working as Mission Safety Analyst for the UK Civil Aviation Authority. He is involved in the technical assessment of licence applications from space companies trying to operate from the UK.

After receiving his BSc in Aerospace Engineering from the Technical University of Madrid (UPM), he moved to the Netherlands where he studied an MSc in Aerospace Engineering at TU Delft, specialising in Space Flight. Prior to his PhD, he worked for a satellite manufacturing company in Germany.

Alvaro joined SGAC in September and he is part of the Space Safety & Sustainability project group.


Rachel Venn

Rachel Venn, United Kingdom

Rachel Venn is a master’s student in Space Science and Engineering at University College London, currently researching forecast models and technological impacts of solar energetic particle events with the Mullard Space Science Laboratory.

With a strong interest in space policy, Rachel’s experiences include working with EU-Africa Earth Observation data sharing policies in an internship at EUMETSAT, consulting on the space industry with BryceTech, and graduating from the ESA-ECSL Summer Course on Space Law and Policy.

Rachel is a Reports Editor for SGAC and is also active in the Space Law and Policy Project Group with the SGAC Task Force on U.S. Space Policy.

Local Organizing Committee (LOC)

Georgia Christodoulou, Cyprus

Georgia was born in Cyprus and since she was young she was fascinated by Music and Space. She studied Applied Mathematics at the National Technical University of Athens and then she obtained a Master’s degree on Computer Vision, Robotics and Machine Learning from the University of Surrey. Currently, she works as a Data Scientist in a company that develops intelligent cyberphysical systems targeted for healthcare, transportation safety and energy efficiency among others.

Georgia has been involved in teams that focus on developing their own space technologies and promoting existing ones to students (CanSat in Greece, SPIN-Space Innovation).

Her future aspiration is to work for the space industry, as an Artificial Intelligence expert.

Mikaella Hadjiefthimiou

Mikaella Hadjiefthymiou, Cyprus

Mikaella Hadjiefthymiou is a Lawyer from Cyprus. She received her Bachelor of Laws, LLB from University of Nicosia and she was awarded with Master of Laws, LLM from Cardiff Metropolitan University. Mikaella is a Doctoral Candidate at European University Cyprus. She is a Member of the Cyprus Bar Association since 2014 and she is also an accredited Mediator registered at Ministry of Justice.

Mikaella has a working experience at Law firms and she has completed her traineeships at House of Representatives of Cyprus, Attorney General’s Office, Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at European Parliament.

Mikaella is the NPoC of SGAC in Cyprus since 2020.

Nefeli Ifaistou

Nefeli Ifaistou, Greece/Cyprus

Nefeli Ifaistou is from Greece and Cyprus. She is a senior law student at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. During her studies she participated in several conferences regarding international law and she represented her University in the Leiden – Sarin International Air Law Moot Court Competition as a team member. She is also a volunteer member of the International Institute of Space Law (IISL) Knowledge Constellation initiative and she recently became a Prospective Member of the IISL. She is skilled in legal research and writing. She is highly interested in international law and a space law enthusiast.