Yajaira Sierra-Sastre

Program Chair, Project PoSSUM

Region:          North America and the Caribbean 

Field:              Science; Engineering 


Profile:     Dr. Yajaira Sierra-Sastre is a materials scientist and informal science educator with fifteen years of experience in academia, start-up companies, and the United States Federal Government.Yajaira currently serves at NASA as the Project Manager of the Mars Spring Tires for the Mars Sample Return’s Sample Fetch Rover mission.Yajaira also supports the team responsible for the mobility testing of the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) at NASA Glenn’s Simulated Lunar and Operations Laboratory. Yajaira was the Chief Science Officer for the first Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, a four-month-long Mars analog mission funded by NASA. A teacher-turned scientist, she is extremely passionate about STEM education and has led multiple citizen-science initiatives in The Americas.  She presently volunteers as Chair of the PoSSUM 13 a talented group of thirteen female space professionals from Project PoSSUM who serve as global ambassadors for STEM and space. Yajaira has been a highly qualified applicant for the NASA Astronaut Candidate Program and aspires to become the first Puerto Rican woman to fly to space. She holds a BS degree from the University of Puerto Rico and a PhD in Materials Chemistry from Cornell University.


Network Activities:

1)      The PoSSUM 13 Microgravity Flight Challenge invites 13-17 year-old students worldwide to compete for a payload experiment aboard the National Research Council of Canada’s Falcon 20 research aircraft.  The female-led teams receive mentoring about microgravity research, experimental design, and payload fabrication. The winning student will have the opportunity to fly their own experiment during a parabolic flight as part of Project PoSSUM's annual microgravity flight campaign.  

2)     Women In Space PoSSUM 13 Newsletter - As a new outreach initiative for 2020, this newsletter intends to provide a summary of exciting news and opportunities in the aerospace sector, particularly for young women. This will include everything from inspirational stories, congratulatory wishes for women in the space sector who are achieving great things, new events, scholarships, and more. Each month we'll also include exciting relevant updates and opportunities from the PoSSUM 13 ambassadors and volunteers, as well as from the general aerospace industry. 

3)     Social Media Engagements (en Español) – collaborate with different organizations to increase the visibility of Hispanic female scientists and role models in STEM: