Yulia Akisheva is an aerospace engineer by training currently finishing a PhD in Protective Use of Regolith for Planetary and Lunar Exploration, or PURPLE in short. This PhD is supported by the European Space Agency (ESA), TRAD Tests & Radiations and ISAE-SUPAERO under the ESA OSIP collaboration platform.

Yulia has a continually growing passion for human spaceflight. Over a decade ago, she decided she would contribute to bringing people to Mars so she invested heavily in her academic background. Yulia has three Master’s degrees from top European universities, including a Double-Degree in Engineering from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden and ISAE-SUPAERO in France. She specialised in Aerospace Structures and Materials, Design and Operation of Space Systems, and Sciences of the Mechanics of Materials and Structures.

Besides deep space exploration, Yulia is invested in teaching effective communication and coaching debating. She does outreach about the space sector and sciences to the community and younger generations. Such efforts include channels such as TikTok and YouTube. For example, you can find Yulia’s TEDx called “To Mars together: 5 reasons to explore the Red planet”. At the present moment, Yulia is developing a new debate method to bring it to technical and research domains to improve the world of corporate communication and knowledge transfer.

Through her academic, volunteering and creative work, Yulia engages with the extended scientific and space community. She is committed to making a measurable positive impact.

History with SGAC

I stumbled upon SGAC when looking for a conference to talk and learn about my field of research in 2019. Luckily, the first SG[France] was looking for delegates then. I was deeply impressed by that event: meeting young and knowledgeable space people was so exciting.

Then, somebody had to fill in the role of organising the next SG[France], and I was immediately interested by the topic of Women in Aerospace. So, I became the Event Manager of that event. The team was outstanding and we started doing way more than simply organising a local event. We were doing outreach campaigns, webinars, research, etc.. After about a year, we were fully functioning like any Project Group of SGAC. That’s when we started to push for becoming one.

Many events, projects, volunteers and two years later, Our Giant Leap became the 11th Project Group. Through all this time, I have been the co-lead of the initiative. Still today, in 2023 I am one of the co-leads. Over the years, I have also been part of the Diversity Action Team, subject matter expert for SpaceGen United and other regional and local events, and the Deputy Event Manager for Our Giant Leap Hackathon in 2022 and 2023. The year 2021 was marked with a special moment when I represented our Project Group and delivered the views of the new space generation on diversity and gender equality at the 64th General Assembly of UN COPUOS. Since 2019, I have also kick-started and led several projects within Our Giant Leap, and today I am co-leading our RESEARCH projects.

In summary, my history with SGAC may be short in years but it has been intense. Full of powerful moves and projects that I am proud of, I am happy with the way that my history with SGAC has been so far, and I am looking forward to more.

While receiving this award, Yulia Akisheva, said:

“I am grateful for this recognition. SGAC has been a place of learning, improvement and friendship over the last 4 years for me. No words can tell how proud I am of Our Giant Leap (OGL), and how close to my heart this wonderful project is. I am receiving this award for the energy, time, ideas, dedication, and leadership that I have been devoting to OGL and the Diversity and Gender Equality Project Group. But it would have been nothing if not for the team. Every Giant is represented in this award. I would like to thank all of my friends and colleagues for being the best team I have ever worked with.

Pioneer is an important word for me. It means that I am doing something truly groundbreaking. And it is often very hard to inflict change and make a positive impact. But I believe that this is part of growth, and growing hurts sometimes. As long as people I work with appreciate my style and passion, I am on the right track. With that, I would like to thank my nominators and the selection committee from the bottom of my heart for this award.”