Our Team

Our Team

David Dangoor CBE

Honorary President

Dangoor Education provides opportunities across the learning spectrum with sponsorship of Westminster Academy, Open University Massive Open Online Courses, STEM university scholarships, the Dangoor Centre for Medical Education at the Royal Society of Medicine and the Dangoor Centre for Personalised Medicine at Bar Ilan University. Dangoor Education’s sponsorship of the UK, EU Space Design Competition and Galactic Challenge builds on the fantastic legacy of Sir Naim Dangoor, who supported the Competition for a number of years.

Marcus du Sautoy FRS, OBE


Is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Formerly a Fellow of All Souls College, and Wadham College, he is now a Fellow of New College. He was previously President of the Mathematical Association, an EPSRC Senior Media Fellow and a Royal Society University Research Fellow. His academic work concerns mainly group theory and number theory. In October 2008, he was appointed to the Simonyi Professorship for the Public Understanding of Science, succeeding the inaugural holder Richard Dawkins.

Dr Randall Perry

Founder UKSDC and SSEF
SSEF Honorary Chair

Dr Perry is the founder of the UKSDC and the Space Science Engineering Foundation (SSEF) and its Honorary Chair. The SSEF is a registered UK charity. It supports the UK, EU Middle East and Africa Space Design Competitions and the junior Galactic Challenge for 9-14 year old students. He is a director of the Global Space Design Challenge and Pro Ed et al. He has held the US and Canada National Science Foundation Fellowship at University of Oxford and as a Royal Society Fellow at Imperial College London. He has a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington, and is a certified NASA astrobiologist.  His current focus is on education. In addition, he has published widely in his areas of interest of Earth and planetary sciences, geochemistry, microbiology and education. He is the author of six novels under RS Perry. Besides scientific talks he enjoys giving presentations in a wide variety of public venues for example being invited to give the Public Lecture at the Durham Institute for Advanced Studies on a Definition of Life and as a painter and member of the Chelsea Art Club an invited talk on Science and Art. As a script writer he is a member of the Writers Guild of America West. In his spare time he enjoys trekking, scuba diving and flying helicopters and aircraft. He has since visited many of the Earth’s extreme habitats including diving in ‘Alvin’ the deep submersible. He has sailed across the Atlantic in a small sailboat.

Dr Richard Ghail

Trustee Chair

Dr Richard Ghail is past Lecturer in Engineering Geology, based in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Imperial College Lond0n and is currently a Reader in the Department of Earth Sciences, Royal Holloway University of London. His research interests are in The London Basin Forum, Intraplate Processes and the Neotectonics of Great Britain, Plate Tectonics of Buoyant Lithospheres and EnVision.

Jian He

Trustee Co-Vice Chair

Jian started volunteering with UKSDC since 2009,first as a supporting technical specialist, and later on as judge and “company” CEO. After completing his Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London, he currently works as a reliability engineer in the petroleum industry, specialising in technical risk management and system reliability solutions in the hostile underwater environment. The best treat for his volunteering weekends is seeing creative ideas from young candidates coming together into designs

Trisha Saxena

Trustee Co-Vice Chair

Trisha first took part in the UKSDC in 2014 as a participant, and although her team won she did not have the chance to go to the Kennedy Space Center. This motivated her to try once more in 2015, when her team won again and this time she had the chance to represent the UK at the International competition. Since then she has been involved with the regional and micro competition heats as a judge and CEO. She frequently gives the management technical talks to the  UKSDC company officers. She completed her Masters in physics at Imperial College London, and hopes to one day work for the UK Space Agency.

Trisha was the UKSDC organising chair for 2016/17 and elected as a trustee in 2019.

Helen Oliver

Trustee and UKSDC Safeguarding Officer

Helen Oliver is a Research Associate in the Networks and Operating Systems Group at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. She has been volunteering as a Judge and Technical Expert with the UKSDC since 2011, when she was working in the Design Engineering Group at Imperial College London. She has been a Judge at the International Finals at both NASA Johnson and NASA Kennedy. She is the original developer of designVUE, a concept mapping software application for capturing design rationale which was subsequently used in a project at NASA Ames to analyze a case study of system failure. Her current research interests include the Internet of Things, personal data stores and privacy by design, and wearable technology.

Christian Sweeting


Christian Sweeting is the Chairman of Palace Investments and is engaged in a number of charitable endeavours, including serving as a trustee of the Shalom Centre for peace and reconciliation. He is also a trustee of the Vatican City State Endowment dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the Vatican, its grounds and the art treasures of the Vatican museums. Christian is delighted to continue his support of the SSEF and believes that the UK, EU Space Design Competition and Galactic Challenge is an extraordinarily valuable experience for everyone taking part, providing a tremendous opportunity, stimulus and experience which are essential in the formation of outstanding young people.

Elizabeth Luthman

Founding Trustee

Liz first became involved with the Space Competition in 2010 as a technical expert in Space Structures. She was an integral part of the original founding team for the SSEF. She graduated from the University of Bristol in 2007 with an MEng in Aerospace Engineering and has spent the last three years as an aeronautics researcher at Imperial College. Her PhD was in hypersonics (very high speed aerodynamics). She is currently at California Institute of Technology (CALTECH) and JPL. When she’s not working, Liz enjoys hiking, writing stories, drawing in London’s various museums and learning Japanese. Liz was also the organising chair for the 2011 UK Competition.

Alison Ahearn


Alison Ahearn is a Principal Teaching Fellow at Imperial College London, teaching undergraduates and postgraduates in civil engineering law and management. At College level, she works with the Educational Development Unit on teacher-development and the formalising of systems for recognising the learning achieved by students outside the classroom. Alison joined UKSDC for its first London final and brings boardroom experience from her 10 years as Chair of the Zebra Housing charity (student accommodation).  Alison has a particular interest in industry-academic partnerships and versimilitude in project-based learning.


Jenny Lyons

Education and Outreach
Fianance Controller and Reporting

A passionate believer in the benefits that practical science brings to school based learning. Jenny has taught in both the private and public sectors, and additionally worked with a variety of agencies to promote and fund the setting up of Science Clubs. She received a BSc from University of Westminster in biological sciences. She has attended University of Sussex and received an endorsement to teach chemistry after receiving her PGCE from University of Middlesex.
Having worked voluntarily for the UK SDC, she is now excited to have the opportunity to extend their project based learning methods to a wider audience, and is looking forward to the continued success of the Space Science Engineering Foundation (SSEF), the EUSDC, MEASDC and UKSDC and Galactic Challenges.
When not working with SSEF and GC, Jenny enjoys the great outdoors by taking part in Open Water Swimming challenges, as a member of the UK Wild Camping group, and as an assessor and trainer for the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

Neelesh Ravichandran

Director Design and Publications

Neelesh is in his third year of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial College London. He competed in the 2016/17 National competition and has volunteered at UKSDC and the Galactic Challenge events as well as supervising the 2017/18 Internationals (ISSDC) trip to the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. He is an avid tennis player and fan. He also enjoys his fair share of hackathons.