2nd Space Travel: Adaptive Research and Technologies from Biological and Chemical Engineering (STAR Tech)

November 18-20, 2019

This conference will focus on space travel technology and capability needs, in an effort to accelerate the development of commercial and non-commercial space exploration.

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Conference Flyer

Keynote Speakers:

Invited Speakers:


The four major tracks this conference will highlight are:

  1. Brewing - This topic area will focus on how to develop fermentation for the production of useful molecules to support a sustainable presence on Earth and in space.
  2. Nourishing - This topic area will focus on sustainable strategies of producing nutritious and palatable foods with the dual purpose of supporting food security on Earth and optimal crew health in space. 
  3. Building - This topic area will focus on developing new chemical, biological, and material science approaches to building components and techniques, for feasible survival in space and sustainable survival on Earth.
  4. Reclaiming - This topic area will focus on chemical, biological, and material technologies that optimize resource utilization through reuse and reprocessing of existing “waste” streams.

Conference Chairs:

Organizing Committee:

Featured Speakers

Gerald B. Sanders

Gerald Sanders has worked at the NASA Johnson Space Center full time for over 32 years in the Propulsion and Power Division of the Engineering Directorate, and has extensive experience in propulsion, fluid systems, and In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU).  Mr. Sanders has worked in the area of ISRU for over 24 years.  During this time, he has led multiple strategic plans, architecture studies, development projects, and analog field tests associated with ISRU advancement.   Mr. Sanders currently serves as the Lead for the ISRU System Capability Leadership Team (SCLT) for...Read more

Dr. Sarah Glaven

Dr. Glaven is a research biologist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) with over 12 years of experience in the field of microbial electrochemistry and electromicrobiology, processes in which microorganisms are used to catalyze electrode reactions and transport electrons over micron-scale distances. Dr. Glaven is recognized worldwide as an expert in this field and for her recent work using meta-omics to understand electron transfer and carbon fixation in electroautotrophic biofilm communities. Dr. Glaven has published over 40 peer-reviewed articles in microbial electrochemistry,...Read more

Dr. Sean Simpson

Dr. Sean Simpson is a Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of LanzaTech, a global leader in gas fermentation. Under Dr. Simpson’s leadership, the company has developed and scaled a gas fermentation process technology and established a broad and unique patent portfolio covering all areas of gas fermentation, including fermentation processes and microbes, gaseous feedstock handling, and product and waste handling. Dr. Simpson has over 20 publications and 200patents. He has received a number of awards including the 2015 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Presidential Green Chemistry...Read more

Scott Banta

Scott Banta Ph.D. is a Professor of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University.  He received his B.S.E. degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Rutgers University.  He did a postdoctoral fellowship at the Shriners and Massachusetts General Hospitals and Harvard Medical School.  He began his faculty career in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Columbia University in 2004 and his research has focused on the engineering of proteins and peptides for various applications in areas including biocatalysis,...Read more

Nils Averesch

Nils is a postdoc in the Criddle Lab at Stanford University, California, and part of CUBES (the Center for Utilisation of Biological Engineering in Space), as well as a collaborating scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. Before joining CUBES, Nils was the Synthetic Biology Task-Lead with USRA at NASA Ames Research Center. He holds a PhD in Metabolic Engineering from the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia and an engineer’s degree (Dipl. Ing.) in Biochemical Engineering, from the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany.

With a recent...Read more

Barbara Belvisi

Barbara is an entrepreneur and investor, passionate about nature, science and space.

She is currently founder and CEO at Interstellar Lab whose mission is to design and build bioregenerative habitats for humans to live sustainably on any planet, starting with Earth.

She started her carreer as investor first in a FoF, then Private Equity and finally Venture Capital, raising over $80M and participated in 40 deals. At 28, she left to focus on her passion: tech and science. She helped launching The Family, a Paris-based incubator and Hello Tomorrow, an event fostering...Read more

Grace Douglas

Dr. Grace Douglas serves as the lead scientist for NASA’s Advanced Food Technology research effort, which focuses on determining methods, technologies, and requirements for developing a safe, nutritious, and palatable food system that will promote astronaut health during long-duration space missions. Her responsibilities include assessing the risk of an inadequate food system to crew based on vehicle design and mission concept and developing the research path that will ensure the food system meets crew health requirements on spaceflight vehicles. She earned a B.S. and M.S. in food science...Read more

Noah Helman

Noah Helman, Ph.D., is a co-founder of Industrial Microbes, a Bay Area synthetic biology startup focused on developing a flexible chemical-manufacturing platform using methane as the raw material.   He received his A.B. degree in physics from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University.  He transitioned into the field of synthetic biology as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at UC San Francisco.  He began his career in industrial biotechnology at LS9 where he developed a directed evolution...Read more

Jen (Zhen) Huang, PhD, PE Ι

Jen (Zhen) Huang has over fifteen years of experience in water, wastewater and biological engineering. As Senior Director of Research & Development at Cambrian Innovation, Jen develops research and development roadmap to systematically achieve technology trajectory goals, and manages grants and projects related to the company’s growing suite of environmental products. Jen has been the lead scientist for the technology development of Cambrian’s flagship EcoVolt Reactor, has served as the principal investigator on a number of the company’s research projects, and has led multiple SBIR...Read more

Adam H. Woomer

Dr. Adam Woomer is a materials scientist at the Advanced Technology Center in Lockheed Martin Space, which specializes in the incorporation of advanced materials into next-generation devices and applications. In collaboration with the Army Research Laboratory, Dr. Woomer is currently applying his materials expertise to the field of synthetic biology, with a particular focus on the self-assembly and design of novel materials for protective coatings and optical technologies. Before joining Lockheed Martin in 2019, he received his Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of North Carolina at...Read more

Anne Meier

Annie Meier is a chemical engineer and principal investigator at NASA Kennedy Space Center with a focus on applied research for space mission logistical waste conversion and resource reutilization for human spaceflight. At Kennedy Space Center she leads a project called OSCAR (Orbital Syngas / Commodity Augmentation Reactor), which is investigating waste conversion in microgravity conditions. Additional areas of focus have included In-Situ Resource Utilization, including Mars CO2 capture and conversion to methane via Sabatier, and waste conversion with plasma gasification. She is...Read more

J. Christopher Love

J. Christopher Love is an associate professor in chemical engineering and member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.  In addition, Chris is an associate member at the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute, and at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard.   Dr. Love received his Ph.D. in 2004 in physical chemistry at Harvard University.  He extended his research into immunology at Harvard Medical School from 2004-2005, and at the Immune Disease Institute from 2005-2007. His research centers on using simple microsystems to measure and correlate...Read more

Etosha Cave

Dr. Etosha (Eee-tah-sha) Cave is a Co-Founder of Opus 12, a startup recycling CO2 into higher value products for Earth, and someday for the Moon and Mars.  Opus 12 uses metal catalysts and renewable electricity to convert CO2 into new molecules, which include oxygen, rocket fuel (methane) as well as a precursor to a range of commonly used plastics.  Etosha received her PhD from Stanford University where she gained the foundational knowledge for this technology.  Prior to Stanford, she worked in Antarctica at the McMurdo Research Station and hopes to return to the continent...Read more

Christina Agapakis

Christina Agapakis is a synthetic biologist, writer, and artist and is the creative director of Ginkgo Bioworks, a biological design company based in Boston. Her work brings together biologists, engineers, designers, artists, and social scientists to explore the future of biotechnology. During her PhD at Harvard, she worked on producing hydrogen fuel in bacteria and making photosynthetic animals. She has taught designers at the Art Center College of Design and biomolecular engineers at UCLA, and she once made cheese using bacteria from the human body.Read more

Sarah Richardson

Dr. Sarah Richardson earned a B.S. in biology from the University of Maryland in 2004 and a Ph.D. in human genetics and molecular biology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 2011. She specializes in genomes: as a DOE Computational Graduate Fellow she “designed" a synthetic yeast genome; as a Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow of Genomics at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory she worked on massive scale synthetic biology projects and the integration of computational genomics with experimental genomics; and as the CEO of MicroByre she leads the...Read more

Dr. Amanda Evans

Dr. Amanda Evans is a Scientist (Physical Organic Chemistry) in the Biosciences Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). She utilizes both batch and continuous processing/bioprocessing approaches for making molecules and her research interests remain diverse, spanning microfluidic syntheses, continuous flow biocatalysis, high energy compounds, DNA nanotechnology, chemical processing in microgravity, and polymeric materials. She possesses an extensive background in the generation of chiral substrates and the use of synthetic techniques in combination with other cross-disciplinary...Read more