PENTA team

Founder & Executive Director
Ghina is an astrophysicist born in a small village tucked among the thousand-year-old cedars of Mount Lebanon. A curious child, a toy’s motor and battery were her objects of fascination. As a school kid, she installed a light system in her dark blue bag to make it easier to find her books. She found physics challenging so it lured her into it as a major in college, and later as a Masters degree. She then did her PhD in Astrophysics, during which she studied the structure and evolution of stars. She is a public speaker at international conferences and global forums including TEDx, and the UN. She was featured as "Modern Muse for Astronomy" by the cultural magazine Postscript.
Programme Manager
Lynn is a Lebanese computer science and psychology student at the American University of Beirut. Her parents always encouraged her to pursue her talent for maths and as a young adult, she wanted to do the same for others: she founded a student club to empower youth in refugee camps across Lebanon. At university, Lynn’s experience as one of the few female computer science students was disappointing as she was consistently ostracised by her male peers. She became motivated to reach out to other women in STEM. PENTA by She Speaks Science mentorship programme helps her verify the power of female representation.


Dr. Belinda Wilkes is a Senior Astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. She recently retired as Director of the Chandra X-ray Center, which operates the Chandra X- ray Observatory on contract with NASA, since 2014. Dr. Wilkes received her BSc. In Astronomy and Physics from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland in 1978 and her PhD in Astronomy from the University of Cambridge, England, in 1982. Her research involves X-ray and multi-wavelength studies of active galaxies. She is currently visiting the X-ray astronomy group at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University as a Sheepshank Fellow.
Dr. F. K. Abu Salem is associate professor of Computer Science at the American University of Beirut. She has an MS in pure Mathematics from AUB and a DPhil in Computing from the University of Oxford. Dr. Abu Salem’s former research area has been in Computer Algebra, with a focus on developing parallel and cache efficient algorithmic designs for problems in polynomial factorization and irreducibility testing over finite fields. Currently, she is involved in data science research for the public good. Applications that she has been tackling include automatic fake news detection in the Syrian Conflict and predicting demand on the primary health care centers in Lebanon as a result of the Syrian refugee influx.
Peju Adebajo is the CEO at Lumos Nigeria and former Commissioner for Agriculture in Ogun State. Her previous roles include Managing Director and Project Management Office & Geocycle at Lafarge Africa Plc. She also managed Public Affairs and Communication Strategy. Peju was on the Board of Lafarge Africa Plc and Ashaka Cement PLC. She also holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from the Imperial College of Science & Technology, London, a Master of Engineering (Chemical Engineering) from the University of London, and a Master of Business Administration, Harvard University, Boston.
Anita Krishnamurthi is a research astronomer with a PhD in Astrophysics from The Ohio State University, who moved to a career focused on STEM education and informal learning recognizing its intersection with social mobility and social justice. She most recently served as the Head of Education and Learning at the Wellcome Trust, a global philanthropy based in London. Her prior roles included serving as Vice President for STEM Policy at the Afterschool Alliance, Program Manager at NASA Headquarters, Lead for Education and Public Outreach in the Astrophysics Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre, and the John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow at the American Astronomical Society. Anita has a wide variety of interests outside work that include yoga, doing pottery, playing the violin, gardening, cooking and traveling.
Prof. Thais Russomano graduated in medicine from the Federal University of Pelotas, Brazil (1985) and specialised in internal and emergency medicine. She also has a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Medicine - Wright State University, USA (1991), and a PhD in Space Physiology - King's College London (1998). She founded the Microgravity Centre, PUCRS, a unique international reference centre in the study of human space physiology and space biomedical engineering, which she coordinated for 18 years. She is also a Director of two space-related private companies, InnovaSpace Ltd (UK) and the International Space Medicine Consortium Inc. (USA).


Betelehem Bilata Woldeyes is an associate researcher at the Ethiopian Space Science and Technology Institute (ESSTI) in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Research and Development Department. She obtained her Master’s degree (Msc) in Astronomy and Astrophysics from Addis Ababa University, Entoto Observatory and Research Center (EORC) in 2019. In February 2020, she started working at ESSTI. Now, she is engaged in different researches in the field of Extragalactic Astronomy. She is also the chair of the IAU-OAE National Astronomy Education Coordinators (NAECs) in Ethiopia.
Dr. Figueroa specializes in human factors, safety, and biomechanics, for all types of accident investigation and prevention. She holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico–Mayagüez and an M.S.E. and Ph.D. in Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan–Ann Arbor. Trailblazing the path for the past decade, Dr. Figueroa has had boots on the ground and has been an active advocate for DEI. She has mentored numerous students and early career professionals, and has organized multiple events/programs guiding students to successfully participate in competitive summer research programs and enroll in graduate school. On top of these efforts, she also co-founded a Diversity Committee for a national technical organization.
Abigail Junice Frost is a postdoctoral researcher in observational astrophysics. Her work focusses on the study of the most massive stars in our Universe, working out how they form and why they appear in binary and multiple systems. Alongside her research she is passionate about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) and highlighting the contribution of people of colour to science. She is actively engaged with outreach and enjoys talking to students of all ages about space and astrophysics. Additionally, she is involved in the organisation ‘Astronomers for Planet Earth’, a group of astronomers hoping to take action against the climate crisis.
Victoria Carter-Cortez is an astrophysicist and aspiring space policymaker. She currently works as a consultant at PwC’s Space Practice where she is actively involved in projects that support both the public and private sector in decision-making, space policy development, and carrying out economic impact assessments. Prior to this, Victoria was working at the European Space Agency’s Washington D.C. Office as part of ESA’s External Relations Department. There, she analysed developments from key space actors and worked to strengthen international partnerships across the Atlantic. Victoria carried out her Master’s degree at University College London where, in partnership with the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, she investigated Jupiter’s X-ray auroral activity. Opening opportunities in STEM, particularly for women, is close to Victoria’s heart. To this end, she has worked as an academic mentor internationally, sharing her passion for space and delivering interactive courses to engage and inspire the next generation of space scientists and engineers.
Dr. Alexandra Amon is an astrophysicist based at Stanford University on a Kavli Fellowship. Her research focuses on cosmology and our understanding of the Dark Universe, mostly using a tool called ‘weak gravitational lensing’. At present, she plays a leading role in the lensing analysis from the Dark Energy Survey - a large international collaboration. After growing up on our islands of Trinidad and Tobago, as an island scholar, Dr. Amon studied at the University of Edinburgh. Her doctorate thesis, titled “Cosmology with the Kilo-Degree Lensing Survey”, won the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society Michael Penston Thesis Prize for the best PhD in the field. In addition, she was the runner up for the UK’s Institute of Physics Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal for the woman who has made exceptional contributions to the field of physics. Popular in science communication, she has featured on Al Jazerra’s The Stream and PBS ‘Ancient Skies’.
Jamy has a background in Mathematics and Statistics and is currently pursuing an actuarial qualification. She worked as a Statistical analyst in South Africa's private healthcare sector for 4 years. She's currently a Data Scientist for the provincial department of health in South Africa and is the technical lead for the Covid 19 pod for the public health data centre in the Western Cape. Jamy has a passion for data driven decision making and public Healthcare.
inda is a Senior Scientist at Aurinia Pharmaceuticals. She has a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Victoria, Canada and a PhD in Microbiology & Immunology from the University of British Columbia, Canada. Linda conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Queensland Diamantina Institute (UQDI), Australia where she studied the role of the microbiome in autoimmune disease. There she mentored and supervised junior scientists and students, and developed and ran the laboratory component of the UQDI Advanced Immunology Course. Linda received Academic Promotion from UQ before returning to Canada with her family, and has recently shifted to industry where she hopes to contribute to the development of therapeutics for immune-mediated diseases.


Marie grew up in Moscow (Russia), where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology. However, she always knew that this was just a launching pad for the rest of her career. She moved to Germany to undertake her master's degree in Molecular Biosciences in the University of Heidelberg. She really enjoyed her life in Germany, but wanted to go even further. Luckily, her programme allowed her to travel abroad, and so she used that chance to take on an internship at the University of Cambridge. The unique academic atmosphere made her realize that this is the place she wanted to be. Therefore, she stayed in Cambridge, where she is currently pursuing her PhD in cancer biology.
Catalina is from Romania and she attended school in her home country until she moved to the US for her undergraduate studies. She obtained a Bachelor's degree in Astrophysics from Caltech in 2018 and continued her studies with a Master's degree in Theoretical Physics at Imperial College London. After graduation, she returned to Bucharest and started working as an Assistant Editor for MDPI's journal Entropy. While she enjoyed learning about the publishing process, she would also like to continue her academic career with a PhD degree at some point.
Mitali Damle is an aspiring Astrophysicist and a proud parent to an 11-yo cat, Rancho. She is from Mumbai, India and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Astrophysics at the University of Potsdam, Germany. Her work primarily deals with studying how galaxies evolve, using computer simulations. Her hobbies include hiking, sketching, cooking, listening to music and most importantly, sleeping.
Antonia is a 25 year old graduate student living in Santiago, Chile. She is currently finishing her M.Sc. degree in astronomy at Universidad de Chile, and is about to start her Ph.D. at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. Her research focuses on the study of the circum-galactic medium, cosmology, and far away galaxies. Besides research, she also does lots of outreach. She is part of the extension team at her university, and works on a project called "Cazadoras de Estrellas" (female star hunters in Spanish) that organizes astronomy workshops for school girls.
Sohini is an Astronomy student at the Indian Institute of Technology, Indore and is currently pursuing my Master's degree. She has a deep interest in Cosmology and Galaxy Formation and is looking forward to working in one of these two areas in the future. She feel that the fundamental question that humanity has faced over thousands of years, the question of "where did we come from?" is the most important question science has not been able to answer so far, and she hopes to contribute to finding a solution to that puzzle. She loves a good conversation (preferably over a cup of good coffee) and believes that knowledge and dialogue have the power to change the world. She enjoys painting and writing in her free time, as well as running one of the several blogs she has created over the years.
Hester lives in South Africa, and is pursuing her PhD in astrophysics, specializing in the modeling of the spectral energy distributions and multi-wavelength polarization of blazars at North-West University. Inspired by the pursuit of science in extreme environments, she went to the South African science base in Antarctica during the 2016-2017 summer take-over, as part of the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) team. She was awarded membership in the Golden Key International Honor Society in 2014, a recognition given to high achieving students. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, reading, writing, painting and spending time in nature.
Ivy Elsie currently lives in Ghana. She is an engineer by training with a first degree in Food Process Engineering from the University of Ghana (BSC. Eng).After graduation she worked at the University of Ghana as a teaching and research assistant for a year and later pursued a second degree at Kangwon National University(South Korea) and majored in Material Science and engineering graduating with a M.Eng. Ivy is currently the West Africa Oral Care R&D Manager for Unilever PLC and has been working there for 7 years now. At Unilever she works on product and process development as well as packaging of existing and new products. Ivy is also a member of the Ghana institution of engineers(GHIE) and was the pioneering member of the University of Ghana National society of black engineers (UG-NSBE) chapter. Ivy believes in empowering and mentoring the youth to achieve great heights.


Louisa is from Nigeria and is a final year Geology student at the University of Lagos, Nigeria. She is currently working towards getting her second degree in either Global Business or Engineering Geology. She loves research and technical writing as well as traveling and meeting new people. She enjoys trying out new recipes, watching Women's Soccer, reading books and watching movies. She has no specific research interests yet, but has a broad range of interests. She is excited to be a part of PENTA and is always happy to meet new people.
Cameron is currently a final-year undergraduate student at the University of Cape Town, majoring in Gender Studies and Maths. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 2019, where she studied Astrophysics. Her research interests lie in non-homonormative queerness, anti-colonial space policy, and looking at the co-production of society and science. She has written for Project Myopia, POCSquared, and Rigorous, and co-founded the Melanin Memos podcast, which highlighted the work of women of colour in science.
Paarmita is a masters student majoring in Physics at IISER Bhopal, India. She is an aspiring astrophysicist, and soo after graduating in May 2022, she plans to pursue a PhD in astronomy. Her research interests include AGNs and Quasars and she is currently working on the analysis of Quasar Jets in the high energy spectrum for her Masters thesis at IIT Indore. She is very passionate about STEM Education and outreach, especially with regards to encouraging young women and minorities to pursue a career in science. This is one of the reasons why she applied to join PENTA. In her leisure time, she enjoys star gazing, painting, playing badminton and reading novels.
Nurul Hidayah is a senior honours year student pursuing Astronomy and Physics at Glasgow University. She was born and raised in Malaysia- a must-visit food haven! Fascinated by the dazzling stars, galaxies and other magnificent celestial objects in the universe, she hopes to pursue a career in observational astronomy. In her pastime, she enjoys playing the piano, with “River flows in you” by Yiruma being one of her favourite pieces. Volunteering, team sports and learning new languages (currently, Mandarin) are also some of her other favourite activities.
Manufactured in the late 90's in India, Shravya is now pursuing her masters degree in astronomy at the University of Leiden. When not doing her coursework, she is usually planning her next backpacking trip, drinking copious amounts of coffee, and hoarding books in her room. She hopelessly believes in the power of dreams, determination and hard work. At the same time, she knows the importance of having a role model to look up to, and a mentor to guide her on her journey. And that is why she joined PENTA mentorship programme: to learn and grow with other women.
Hadeel is an undergraduate student at the American University of Beirut. She was awarded the MEPI-TL tomorrow’s leaders’ full scholarship to pursue her undergraduate studies in Computer Science at the university. She really sees her major as a fascinating diverse field of study and mostly enjoy working in and learning software engineering. Moreover, she is very much interested in data science and deep learning applications. Because of that, she frequently participates in programs and competitions related to these topics. Apart from academics, she feels her best when reading and playing piano. She also enjoys playing chess (but she is still learning and hasn't mastered this yet).
Valentina is a 20 year old Colombian undergraduate student, pursuing her degree in physics and software engineering. She hopes to one day become an astrophysicist. Valentina is interested in the areas of Cosmology and Galaxy evolution, and is currently doing research on computational Cosmology. In her free time, she enjoy dancing, playing tennis, solving puzzles and petting animals.


Cristiana is a junior at the International Computer High School of Bucharest, Romania. She studies Physics and Mathematics at an advanced level and is planning to double major in both at university. In preparation for the national and international competitions in physics, she learned a lot about hard work and resilience, but what motivates her most is discovering mind-bending concepts and coming up with creative solutions. She believes people are her greatest source of inspiration because they never cease to surprise her in the most unexpected ways. That is why she chose PENTA! Besides being eager to hear the advice and stories of empowered women, she is excited to take action with these women and encourage other girls to start their STEM journey with confidence and enthusiasm.
Jacqueline is a high school student in the United Kingdom, currently doing Biology, Chemistry and Maths for her A levels. She aims to pursue a biomedical science degree at a university in London. She is motivated to learn more about the world of microbiology as she find it really fascinating. At the moment, she is also doing a dissertation on how cancer treatments affect patient mental health. She sees PENTA as a rare opportunity to get to know people from all around the world who dream about moving into a STEM career and acknowledging what their backgrounds are.
Nesibe is originally from Turkey but grew up in Bosnia. She has been living in the Netherlands for the past two and a half years and is currently a highschool student in the Netherlands. Her hobbies include reading books, playing the violin, drawing, learning new languages and travelling. She is genuinely interested in a STEM career in the future and her objective is to expand her perspective in one of the STEM majors, specifically medicine. She believes that PENTA will constitute an important milestone in her STEM journey towards achieving her goals and planning for the future.
Assia describes herself as 'the stuff of exploded stars; a traveler on a cosmic journey, living on a tiny planet called Earth'. Assia is 17 years old from Morocco, and is currently a 12th grader in high school. She is a science enthusiast with tendencies to Art, entrepreneurship, and volunteering. She joined PENTA mentorship program to meet all the amazing women and girls in science from around the globe, to connect and get mentored by them, and to ignite the curiosity hidden inside of her.
Sascha is a year 12 high school student from the UK, currently working towards her A-Levels in maths, physics and German. She is interested in pursuing maths at university and further. When she is not working, she is either painting, playing sports, or stuck behind a screen binge watching shows. She joined PENTA in hopes that it will help grow her confidence and connections, as well as give her some insight into what a career as a woman in STEM fields is like.
Goda is a final year High School student from Kaunas, Lithuania. Currently, her goal is to get into an Aerospace engineering study programme at Vilnius Tech University. In her spare time, she is interested in aviation and space technologies. She also enjoys doing sports such as running, skiing, rowing, and also travelling and meeting new people. She genuinely finds PENTA to be a wonderful and very needed opportunity for women to inspire and support each other and she feels honored to be part of the community.
Kwena is a high school student interested in maths and physics as well as life science and geography. After she graduates, she is interested in pursuing a medical degree and becoming a doctor. Her decision to pursue medicine was driven largely by her values and her faith. Her biggest inspiration comes from the challenges that she faces in her life. They help her push herself to improve and although they distract her from her goals, they also give her hope and motivation to work harder and live better.