September 21-22

The 2019 Amelia Earhart Summit is a national, weekend-long event during Purdue's 150th anniversary year, intended to empower all students interested in a future in aerospace to learn more about career paths in industry, academia, and government, and to give them the opportunity to expand their professional network through interactions with preeminent leaders in these fields. Events include:

Registration will open June 1.

The summit is sponsored by the Purdue College of Engineering’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.


“You can act to change and control your life and the procedure. The process is its own reward.”

– Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart Aerospace Summit Speakers

Kathleen Howell

Hsu Lo Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Purdue University

Kathleen Howell is the Hsu Lo Distinguished Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Purdue University, where she maintains an active research program with a focus on orbit mechanics, spacecraft dynamics and trajectory optimization.

Howell has made pioneering contributions in celestial mechanics and astrodynamics, and her research has had a major impact on numerous past and ongoing NASA and international space flight missions, including Artemis, Genesis and Cassini.

Her accomplishments have been widely recognized through many awards, including the Dirk Brouwer Award from the American Astronautical Society and Purdue’s Morrill Award, the highest honor given to a member of Purdue's faculty. She is a member of the International Academy of Astronautics and the National Academy of Engineering.

Howell earned her BS degree in aerospace engineering from Iowa State University and her MS and PhD degrees in aeronautical and astronautical sciences from Stanford University.

Sammie Morris

Professor of Library Science and Head of Archives and Special Collections
University Archivist/Director, Karnes Research Center, Purdue University Libraries

Sammie L. Morris, professor and Head of Archives and Special Collections at Purdue University, works closely with the Amelia Earhart collections at Purdue and frequently gives talks on Earhart’s relationship to Purdue University. Her article on Amelia Earhart’s poetry shed light on how Earhart’s creative writing captured aspects of her personality that were often not visible to the public.

Morris is a member of the Academy of Certified Archivists, Society of American Archivists, and Midwest Archives Conference and is a past president of the Society of American Archivists.

She has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science concentrating on archival enterprise, from University of Texas at Austin and a BA degree in English Literature from Louisiana Scholars’ College.

Beth Moses

Chief Astronaut Instructor, Virgin Galactic

Beth Moses is the first female to fly to space on a commercial vehicle and earned her Commercial Astronaut Wings from the Federal Aviation Administration in April 2019. She is the chief astronaut instructor at Virgin Galactic.

Moses was formerly the extravehicular system manager for the International Space Station at NASA.

Moses received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue. As a student, she was awarded the National Science Foundation’s Microgravity Research Award to conduct materials research in parabolic flight. She is the recipient of Chicago’s Adler Planetarium annual Women in Space Science Award and a Google Science Fair judge. She was honored as an Outstanding Aerospace Engineer by AAE in 2018.

Honorable Sue C. Payton

President, SCI Aerospace Inc.

Change agent, acquisition expert, innovative industry leader and public servant, Sue Payton has over 37 years of continued success working in senior industry and government positions with military services, defense agencies, coalition partners, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Intelligence Community, Congress, Universities and the media.

The former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition and former Deputy Under Secretary of Defense currently is president at SCI Aerospace Inc. She advises business executives in areas of financial audit scope and compliance; corporate governance principles and policies; standards of conduct; strategic business planning, including R&D; and game changing technology transition; acquisition and logistics approaches to meet national security needs; resource allocations and operating execution

She is a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, University of Southern California and Nova Southeastern University.

Careers in Space Panel

Penina Axelrad

Joseph T. Negler Professor of Aerospace Engineering Sciences, Colorado Center for Astrodynamics Research, University of Colorado Boulder

Penina Axelrad has been a faculty member at the University of Colorado Boulder since 1992 and served as Department Chair from 2012-2017. Her research interests include space situational awareness, technology and algorithms for GPS-based position, navigation, and timing in space, airborne, marine, and land environments, multipath characterization and correction, and remote sensing using GNSS-based reflectometry and radio occultation measurements. Her teaching interests include GNSS, dynamics, and project-based design.

She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Institution of Navigation and a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. She is currently a member of the U.S. Position, Navigation, and Timing Advisory Board and the NASA Advisory Council.

She received B.S. and M.S. degrees from M.I.T. and a Ph.D. from Stanford University.

Briony Horgan

Assistant Professor of Planetary Science, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University

Briony Horgan is an Assistant Professor of Planetary Science. Her research program uses data from NASA satellites and rovers, along with lab and field work back on Earth, to understand the surface processes that have shaped Mars and the Moon. She is particularly interested in using mineralogy to investigate weathering and past surface environments on Mars, as well as volcanic, sedimentary, and impact processes on both planets.

Horgan is a Participating Scientist on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover mission and a Co-I on NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020 rover mission, the first step toward Mars Sample Return.

She earned her bachelor's from Oregon State in physics, and her Ph.D. in Astronomy and Space Sciences from Cornell.

Yen Matsutomi

Blue Engines Sr. Director, Engines Design Office, Blue Origin

Yen Matsutomi is leading the talented Engines Design Office that defines technical processes from concept through flight for engine components to the integrated system to drive positive impact on program performance. This responsibility includes technical process and engineering talent development.

Matsutomi has been with Blue since 2010, spending her early years developing the BE-3 main injector that has flown on all New Shepard missions. As a combustion devices development engineer, she supported subscale injector development testing at WTLS and full scale thrust chamber assembly testing at the NASA Stennis Space Center. Later, she focused on injector and combustion stability verification through full-scale integrated engine development testing, culminating in a successful engine acceptance test program. After multiple New Shepard missions, Matsutomi transitioned to a lead role establishing technical standards, improving processes and advancing analysis tools for injector and combustor development across all Blue engines.

She received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue University. She was also a research scientist at the Maurice J. Zucrow Laboratories.

Moogega Cooper Stricker

Planetary Protection Engineer, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA

In 2011, Moogega Cooper Stricker became a full-time employee at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where she works on developing plasma sterilization methodologies and additional sterilization capabilities for future mission use. She is also the Planetary Protection lead for the Mars 2020 Mission and is involved with the InSight Mission.

Stricker received a BS in physics from Hampton University in 2006 and a MS and PhD in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in 2009 at age 24. Upon graduating, she became a post-doc at JPL where she worked on assessing microorganisms found in spacecraft assembly cleanrooms. Cooper also worked on technologies that are able to search for and monitor the persistence of life in extreme environments.

David Spencer

Associate Professor, Purdue University

Purdue alum David Spencer joined the AAE faculty as an Associate Professor in Fall 2016 after six years as a Professor of Practice at Georgia Tech, where he earned his Ph.D. He received his B.S. and M.S. in AAE from Purdue, after which he spent 17 years at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. At JPL, he was the Deputy Project Manager for the Phoenix Mars Lander, Mission Manager for the Deep Impact and Mars Odyssey projects, and mission designer for Mars Pathfinder and TOPEX/Poseidon. He has also founded the Space Flight Projects Laboratory, a multi-disciplinary research lab that implements space science and technology missions. Prof. Spencer's research interests include planetary mission design, system engineering, mission operations, and project management.

Marina Koren

Staff Writer at The Atlantic
Space Panel Moderator

Marina Koren is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers all things space, from science and technology to politics and policy. She has written about failed Mars simulations, historic SpaceX launches, and black-hole research. Before working in science journalism, Marina was a breaking-news reporter, covering U.S. and international politics and events. She studied journalism at the University of Delaware.

Careers in Aviation Panel

Captain Margie Freeman

Pilot, United Airlines

Captain Margie Freeman is a Boeing 767 pilot for United Airlines based at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. She has flown for United Airlines for 30 years. Freeman is an Airline Transport rated pilot with FAA type ratings in Boeing-727, 737, 757, and 767 aircraft and flies both internationally and domestically. Freeman graduated from the University of Illinois in 1984 from the Professional Pilot Program.

Freeman is an active member in the Experimental Aircraft Association, Women in Aviation and the 99’s, organizations that recognize and celebrate women in aviation. She also continues to enjoy general aviation flying her own Cessna 172 and Cessna 340. Beginning her flying in 1980, she has over 15,000 flying hours.

Kathryn Johnson

Project Engineer, The Boeing Company

Kathryn Johnson is the Program Manager for Data Analytics development, supporting the BDS F/A-18 Program, focused on developing capabilities to assess and monitor aircraft system health by using data and engineering knowledge to provide timely, enhanced troubleshooting guidance which will improve aircraft readiness and aircraft safety.

Previous to this role, she led the Reliability & Maintainability Engineering team on the F-22 Sustainment Program where she led efforts resolving complex process issues regarding root cause analysis and disposition of corrective action in order to meet reliability, maintainability and system health requirements to improve aircraft fleet readiness.

Other previous assignments include Reliability & Maintainability Engineer and Systems Engineer on the F-22 Sustainment Program. In her roles at Boeing, Johnson has had the opportunity to integrate and lead challenging projects that require a high level of integration and collaboration.

Johnson earned her degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue University. While at Purdue, she was a member of the Purduettes with Purdue Musical Organizations (PMO) and Director of Purdue Space Day.

Jen Watson Perez

Global Technical Capability Development Leader, GE Aviation

Jen Watson Perez is the Global Technical Capability Development Leader at GE Aviation. In this role, she is responsible for the technical growth and development of the nearly 8,000 engineers around the globe who work for GE Aviation, including the Edison Engineering Development Program.

Perez joined GE as a co-op while attending Purdue University. Upon graduation, she joined the Edison Engineering Development Program. Perez spent her early career creating aero-thermo cycle models of gas turbine engines. In 2013, Perez became the manager of the Transient Performance team, which created and validated state of the art transient cycle models. This role sparked a passion for developing and training engineers. She brings this passion and an inclusive leadership style to her current role. At GE, Perez is the Inclusion leader for the Chief Engineer’s Office and active in the GLBTA Alliance.

Perez graduated from Purdue with a bachelor's in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. While at Purdue, she was a member of Phi Sigma Rho, co-captain of the national championship Rube Goldberg team and director of SEDS Purdue Space Day.

Margaret Wint

Office Manager, Benz Aviation

Margaret Wint has been assistant manager of a small airport in Michigan for 10 years. She is a test proctor for all FAA knowledge tests. She is an instrument-rated private pilot, single-engine land, and has flown more than 855 hours.

Wint has been an active member of the Ninety-Nines for 14 years and has held offices at both the chapter level and North Central Section staff. Air racing is one of her passions, and she has competed in several, including the Air Race Classic.

William Crossley

J. William Uhrig and Anastasia Vournas Head of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics

William Crossley took over as head of the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics July 20, 2019, the 50th anniversary of the first lunar landing. He has been at Purdue since 1995, after earning his master's and Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Arizona State University. During his time at Purdue, Crossley has revamped the sophomore Intro to Aerospace Design class, introduced Design as an undergraduate concentration and taught graduate courses in multidisciplinary design optimization. His research interests include rotorcraft and aircraft design and optimization. He is a four-time recipient of the Elmer Bruhn Teaching Award, and in 2013 was inducted into the Book of Great Teachers.

Workshop Presenters

D. Marshall Porterfield

Professor, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Purdue

Dr. D. Marshall Porterfield is a Professor of Agricultural & Biological Engineering at Purdue, where his research focuses on biosensors, bionanotechnology, and space biology. Over the last 25 years, he has worked experimentally to study biological systems in the spaceflight environment for development of biomedical countermeasures and bioregenerative life support technologies.

He recently served NASA as Division Director for Space Life and Physical Sciences from 2012-2016 (Human Research, Physical Sciences, and Space Biology Programs), focused on science for future human exploration using the International Space Station. During his tenure at NASA, he developed a new “open science” paradigm (geneLAB, materialsLAB) for the utilization of the ISS.

He has received numerous awards, including the Halstead Investigator Award, the Purdue University Faculty Scholar Award, and was elected to the College of Fellows for the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Tamaira Ross

Principal Manager & Configuration Design Engineer, Blue Origin

"Play to your Strengths"

Tamaira Ross is a principal manager and configuration design engineer at Blue Origin, a commercial launch company dedicated to opening human access to space, where she is leading System Definition and Design for the New Glenn orbital launch vehicle program.

Formerly, she was a technical fellow in Boeing Defense, Space & Security where she led preliminary vehicle design and rapid development of aircraft and spacecraft including Boeing’s small satellite programs and related efforts.

Ross holds a BS (1996) and a MS (1998) in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue University.