Graduate Student Council

The Western Space Graduate Students’ Council provides a means of bidirectional communication between participating graduate students and the Western Space Executive Council. The student's council is comprised of a senior leadership team consisting of a President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary, each of whom serves for a one-year term. Each Western Space-linked department is represented by a member of the council for a period of one year. The council actively seeks to create a sense of community amongst students emanating from a variety of departments across campus by organizing various social gatherings enabling graduate students from the different departments to meet in a non-academic setting.

The 2019/2020 Council members are:

 Chimira Andres

Chimira Andres

Council Executive: President

Biography: Chimira Andres is a M.Sc. student with the Department of Earth Sciences and the Planetary Science and Exploration Collaborative program. Her research focuses on the movement of ice in glacial and periglacial (permafrost) environments in the Canadian High Arctic and how it is shaping the landscape overtime. She uses these cold environments on Earth as a basis of comparison (planetary analogues) to cold environments on Mars. Studying glacial and periglacial landscapes are of huge importance not only for Arctic climate change and planetary science, but it can also be used as a tool for understanding permafrost hazards and freshwater resources for communities in High Arctic regions.
William  Yingling

William Yingling

Council Executive: Vice President

Biography: Will Yingling is an M.Sc candidate whose research is focused on identifying and analyzing melt pool emplacement around craters on the Martian surface. The overarching goal is to compare melt pool emplacement on Mars to other terrestrial bodies, such as the Moon, Venus, and Mercury. Will is advised by Dr. Catherine Neish and Dr. Livio Tornabene. When not researching, Will likes spending time with his hobbies including gardening, brewing, and playing games with friends.
Leah  Sacks

Leah Sacks

Council Executive: Secretary

Biography: Leah Sacks is a M.Sc. student with the Department of Earth Sciences and the Planetary Science Collaborative program at the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration (Western Space). Her research focuses on impact crater ejecta on Mars and ejecta emplacement processes using HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment) on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. She works with visual imagery and spectral data to do morphologic and compositional analyses and mapping.
Josh Hedgepeth

Josh Hedgepeth

Council Executive: Treasurer

Biography: Josh Hedgepeth is a PhD student in Earth Sciences in the Planetary Collaborative program. Josh studies impact craters on Titan with Dr. Catherine Neish, collaborating with Dr. Britney Schmidt and Dr. Jacob Buffo at Georgia Institute of Technology. His research focuses on topics in planetary surface processes of icy moons, impact cratering, and astrobiology. Outside of school, he enjoys biking, listening to podcasts, audiobooks, and watching T.V. Check out his website:
Alexis Pascual

Alexis Pascual

Council Executive: Project Liason

Biography: Alexis Pascual is a PhD student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department studying automation in planetary science and exploration. His main research interests are autonomous image classification and rover automation.
Nikol  Posnov

Nikol Posnov

Council Executive: Social Events

Biography: Nikol Posnov is a M. Sc. student in the Department of Earth Sciences and the Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration studying Geomicrobiology. Her research focuses on microbial habitat generation through impact bombardment by combining geological impact alteration classification methods with biological life-detection techniques. Her goal is to explore the relationship between shock-induced alteration and microbial colonization, thereby determining the extent of which these rocks can serve as an effective habitat for life.
Matt Svensson

Matt Svensson

Department Rep: Earth Science

Biography: Matthew Svensson is a Ph.D. candidate with the Department of Earth Sciences and in the Collaborative Specialization in Planetary Science. His research includes topics in impact cratering, clay mineralogy, light stable isotope geochemistry and analogues for planetary exploration with a focus on how some impact craters could provide suitable habitats for early forms of life.
Bryan  Southwell

Bryan Southwell

Department Rep: Engineering

Biography: Bryan is an M.E.Sc student in the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration. His research is focused on improving rover safety and the level of understanding of planetary surface geology, through terramechanics. This is done with a "smart" rover wheel to directly collect data about the surface terrain as it rolls. This research is done as part of a NASA-JPL research and development project.
Mohammed Chamma

Mohammed Chamma

Department Rep: Physics and Astronomy

Biography: Mohammed Chamma is a PhD student with the department of Physics and Astronomy. He studies new ways of observing the formation of stars, with a focus on observational methods for measuring the magnetic fields in nebulae.