Dr Christyl Johnson started out as an intern at NASA. Today, she is the organisation's first female African-American Deputy Director - and she's speaking at Hybrid World Adelaide Tech Conference in July.
"It's a privilege to be invited to present at Hybrid World Adelaide," Johnson says. "I look forward to discussing the future of space technologies and the boundless entrepreneurial opportunities to come."
Dr Johnson has held the role of Deputy Director for Technology and Research Investments at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center since 2010. Dr Johnson works on NASA's future technology goals - leading a program of investments and managing the centre's research and development portfolio.
Dr Johnson has served under the US President's science advisor in the White House Office of Science of Technology Policy, established national science and technology investment goals in areas including energy, environment, natural resources, technology and national security, and is obviously a total badass.
Johnson has spoken about the importance of diverse teams across industries. She encourages women to network with people who have a track record of supporting women, and notes that "high-visibility assignments" – high-profile tasks where women can display their leadership abilities – are crucial.
Johnson is of the firm belief that that anyone who wants to participate in STEM fields can do, so if they work hard.
"If you want to participate in the space industry, there's room for everyone," Johnson says, "if it's to be, it's up to me. I have to make it so."
Johnson says that she struggled with mathematics and science initially, before realising that every concept – no matter how complicated – could be broken down into terms simple enough for everyone to understand.
"You have to not be afraid to ask questions," she says.
Johnson visited South Australia earlier in the year, and spoke eagerly about the nation's growing space industry. She said that communication systems are one of many technologies that could be improved by Australian space research.
"I'm really, really excited about what I've seen here in South Australia towards your ambition to establish a space agency," she told the ABC. "The best part about an agency for you is you'd have an idea or vision so great that it brings all aspects of Australia together to work towards a common goal."
Dr Christyl Johnson will speak at Hybrid World Adelaide's Tech Conference, and Gizmodo will be there on the ground to cover it all. If you'd like to join us, tickets are available now.