In partnership with the Future Space Leaders Foundation and SATELLITE 2024 Conference, the Space Generation Advisory Council will host its ninth SGx in Washington, DC on March 18-19, 2024. Styled in the TEDx format, SGx is a high-impact day of expert “lightning talks” and networking opportunities designed to create an environment where young professionals, students, industry experts, and government leaders can gather to share their insights and experiences with each other. Applications for presenting a lightning talk are open to young professionals and students between the ages of 18 and 35 at the time of the SGx event (anyone born between March 19, 1988 and March 18, 2006).

Each talk is expected to be 10 minutes long + 5 minutes of Q&A. The SGx2024 theme “Space Works for All” encourages talks which not only deliver thoughtful content, but also emphasize impact to the greater space community.

This is a fantastic opportunity to present your unique work, while practicing your public speaking skills and gaining valuable experience!

Participation in the SGx young professional lightning talks requires a commitment to attend the event on March 18th and 19th, 2024, in Washington, DC. If you are selected for a talk, you will be provided complimentary access to SGx and the SATELLITE Conference. SGAC will not be able to cover expenses related to travel and other logistics.


Students & Young Professional Speakers


Rebecca van Burken is the Manager of Government and Regulatory Relations for Voyager Space. In her role, Ms. van Burken represents the interests of Voyager to key government institutions including Congress, the White House, and the many federal and international agencies that impact the success of Voyager. Ms. van Burken additionally leads Voyager’s regulatory affairs. 

Prior to joining Voyager, Ms. van Burken was a Policy Associate with Boundary Stone Partners where she worked to support commercial space and carbon accounting clients on a range of government affairs and regulatory issues and led business development for the firm’s space practice. Prior to Boundary Stone, Rebecca was a technology policy analyst and Senior Fellow at the Reason Foundation where she wrote on technology policy issues and commercial space policy with a focus on orbital debris and space traffic management issues. Ms. van Burken began her work in space working with two of the largest U.S. space industry associations, the Satellite Industry Association and the Commercial Spaceflight Federation promoting industry member’s policy positions on a federal level. Ms. van Burken additionally was a part of the conception of the Space Initiative at the American Foreign Policy Council.

While working at Voyager, Ms. van Burken is also a part-time JD candidate at the American University Washington College of Law where she is focusing on corporate and space-related law. Ms. van Burken received her undergraduate degree- in international affairs from the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs where she earned a double concentration in national security and conflict resolution affairs as well as a minor in political science.

Ms. van Burken has a passion for enabling members of the young space community access to professional development opportunities. She has served as the Manager for the Future Space Leaders’ 2023 Future Space Conference, on the Programming Committee for SGX2023, and on the Organizing Committee for the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium.

Manager of Government and Regulatory Relations for Voyager Space

Christine has spent her career in the space industry.

Beginning with NASA’s Johnson Space Center, she sustained various International Space Station hardware and developed hardware for the Artemis missions.

Her undergraduate degree from Texas A&M University was in industrial engineering, focusing on building systems and processes to perform better. She has completed a master’s in engineering management at Duke University, combining business functions with the technical aspects of engineering. 

In the private sector, she has been a Program Manager responsible for a 94-million-dollar project for an aerospace company providing satellites to the Department of Defense. 

This April, Christine will officially graduate with her master’s in business administration from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

MBA Student, University of Cambridge

Joe Cohen is a Systems Engineer representing Northrop Grumman’s Space Systems Payload and Ground Systems Division. He is skilled in integration and testing, which he has supported at component, subsystem, and system levels. Joe has a keen interest in integrating software, hardware, and digital technologies to work in unison, and excels at squashing bugs. Joe holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland and is pursuing an MSE in Systems Engineering from Johns Hopkins University.

Systems Engineer, Northrop Grumman

John is an aerospace engineer at Jacobs Engineering, where he supports SpaceX Dragon-2 Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 and has lived in Houston, Texas ever since. John also serves as Chair of the AIAA Houston section. Outside work and AIAA he volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, or CASA, in Houston’s foster care system.

Aerospace Engineer, Jacobs Engineering

My name is Zephyr Drake Benton. I am currently a Student at the world renowned King’s College London pursuing a Masters of Arts in Global Security. Additionally, I possess a Bacholors of Business Administration from the University of Toledo. Moreover, I also have a Certification in Business Strategy, Globalization and Geopolitics from the prestigious HEC School in Paris, France. My professional background is diverse, which consists of service as a contract specialist with the United States Air Force Civilian Service and contributions to several innovative startups, including two focused on asteroid mining. This unique blend of government and private sector experience has allowed me to navigate complex landscapes at the intersection of business and policy. Furthermore, I have written several papers regarding various political and business aspects. One of which was presented at the International Astronautical Congress in 2022. On top of that experience, I have been a Space Generation Fusion Form Delegate for both 2022 and 2023. It is my career aspiration to either be a geopolitical consultant or head of geopolitical strategy for a space holding company.

Student, King’s College London

Charles works as a Business Analyst for Thales Alenia Space. Combining his passion for Space and Economics, he gained valuable experience at Euroconsult and Alliance Newspace France. Charles is engaged with associations like ASTRES and participates in SGAC events.
Charles holds a Master’s degree in Management and Business Consulting from Audencia Business School.

Business Analyst, Thales Alenia Space

Kanak Parmar is an Astrodynamics, Satellite Navigation, and Machine Learning (ML) Specialist at Advanced Space, with extensive experience in both traditional space mission and astrodynamics concepts, as well as strategic modifications and implementations of AI schemes within this realm. She has vast technical experience in numerous aspects of traditional astrodynamics and mission design, AI/ML concepts, and strategically bridging the two realms. She has further experience in trusted AI and real-time flight assurance via inclusion of cognitive engineering concepts.

She has a Master’s degree in Aerospace Engineering, with the resultant body of work introducing the novel state-of-art focusing on human-AI interactive learning for spacecraft path planning. Concurrent to working at Advanced Space, she is also a PhD Student at Auburn University, focusing on strategic applications of AI for more robust and autonomous spacecraft optical navigation solutions. This work earned her the 2023 American Astronautical Society Molly K. Macauley Award in Science/Engineering.

Along with industry and academic activities, Kanak is also actively involved in community driven efforts. She has participated as a global delegate to the 11th and 12th Space Generation Fusion Forum, serves as the AI/ML technical advisor to the Space Exploration Projects Group (SEPG) within the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), and has participated in technical panel discussions regarding the evolving role of AI in spaceflight.

Astrodynamics, Satellite Navigation, and Machine Learning (ML) Specialist Advanced Space

Fay Ghani is a medical researcher working with the Center for Regenerative Biotherapeutics at the Mayo Clinic in Florida. Her research focuses on studying stem cells sent into space with NASA and investigating potential stem-cell based therapies developed in microgravity for patients in the future. She received her Bachelor of Biomedical Science (Honours) degree with First Class Honours from the University of Auckland in New Zealand and was the recipient of two highly competitive research scholarships, awarded by the School of Medicine Foundation and Te Pūnaha Ātea Space Institute.

During her studies, she was a TEDx speaker in 2019. Then, in 2022, she was the youngest panelist on the Global Space Workforce Panel at the International Humans in Space Summit in Sydney, Australia, the largest space biology meeting in the Asia-Pacific region. Her medical research journey has taken her to different laboratories and institutes within New Zealand, Australia and the United States. Fay is also a part of the Space Medicine and Life Science (SMLS) Project Group committee at SGAC. Her lifelong passion is to study human physiology in space and encourage others to join the journey!

Special Project Associate, Mayo Clinic

Winner of the SGx2024 Northrop Grumman YP/Student Lightning Talk Scholarship