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NASA’s Space Tech Prize Bolsters Diversity, Inclusivity Champions 

A graphic of the NASA "meatball" insignia, a blue circle crossed by a red V-shaped swoosh, against a black background.
Credits: NASA

NASA selected the first winners of the agency’s Space Tech Catalyst prize to expand engagement with underrepresented and diverse individuals in the space technology sector as part of the agency’s broader commitment to inclusivity and collaboration. The winners are receiving $25,000 each to create more inclusive space technology ecosystems.

“As NASA continues to explore the unknown, making the impossible possible, we are committed to engaging talents from all backgrounds to advance exploration,” said Shahra Lambert, NASA senior advisor for engagement. “By providing funding to this space technology community, NASA is ensuring the Artemis Generation will have the necessary tools to expand humanity’s reach.”

Winning individuals and organizations demonstrate the best collaboration practices with diverse researchers, technologists, and entrepreneurs. The champions also bring effective strategies that contribute to NASA’s ongoing efforts to develop a representative space technology landscape, while enhancing its ability to find creative solutions to technical challenges.

The winners are:

  • Caitlin O’Brien, SciAccess, Inc.
  • Zainab Abbas, SciTech@U
  • Bahiy Watson, The 1881 Institute
  • Amber Imai-Hong, Mahina Aerospace
  • Marta Miletic, San Diego State University
  • Felecia Brown, NorthStar of GIS
  • Diego Sandoval, Cyncrocity
  • Arif Rahman, Hawaii Pacific University
  • Sierra Brown
  • Denise Thorsen, University of Alaska Fairbanks
  • Joshua Neubert, Institute of Competition Sciences
  • Madison Feehan, Space Copy, Inc.
  • Johnie Turnage, Black Tech Saturdays
  • Athip Thirupathi Raj, University of Arizona SpaceTREx Lab
  • Janeya Griffin, Equity Space Alliance, Inc.
  • Annika Rollock, Aurelia Institute
  • M. von Nkosi, Institute for Local Innovations, Inc.
  • Joseph Grant, New Generation Solutions SST
  • Sambit Bhattacharya, Fayetteville State University
  • Dalia David, Honest Eating, LLC

Each winner was selected for proving their ability to engage and develop underrepresented groups in space technology development, broaden NASA’s outreach efforts to diverse sources of developers, and build a community of emerging innovators equipped to compete for the agency’s technology development opportunities.

“We are proud to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of these exceptional individuals and organizations leading the way in building an inclusive community in space technology for the benefit of humanity,” said Denna Lambert, inclusive innovation team lead, Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Their dedication and success in engaging underrepresented groups will undoubtedly inspire others to join us in advancing the frontiers of space exploration and innovation.”

To increase collaboration between NASA and its community partners, each winner will attend an in-person event at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Representatives from NASA and the winning organizations will participate in community-building activities to emphasize knowledge sharing, increase awareness of NASA’s competitive research and development environment, and expand the agency’s reach into diverse innovator communities.

The Space Tech Catalyst Prize, funded by STMD, is part of a commitment to expand NASA’s network of competitive proposers and enhance engagement approaches.

For more information, visit:


Jimi Russell
Headquarters, Washington

Gerelle Dodson
Headquarters, Washington