Galactic Challenge Board

Micro Competitions were originally held at Imperial College London in 2009, renamed to Galactic Challenge, the first GC was held at Bede’s School in 2015 for students years 7-8. However, it is designed for students in two age groups, years 5-6 and years 8-9.  The first Galactic Challenge of 2017 was held in January with 70 students participating. Differing from regional competitions, parents are invited to the students presentations.The Galactic Challenge Board oversees the arrangements for all challenges.  Board members for 2017 can be found below.

Dr Randall S Perry SDC and SSEF Founder and CEO


Randall is the founder of the UKSDC, EUSDC and MEFSDC and the Micro Competitions and the founder of the Space Science Engineering Foundation. A Senior Research Investigator and a past Royal Society USA/Canada Research Fellow, based at Imperial College London. He has a B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington, has held the US and Canada National Science Foundation Fellowship at Oxford University, and has a NASA certification in Astrobiology. In addition, he has published widely in his areas of interest of geology, geochemistry, microbiology and education and he has collaborated with Dr Catherine Fosnot on whose learning methods the Space Design Competitions are based. He is the author of three adventure novels  and asa member of the Writers Guild of America West, he has an interest in film as script writer and as a producer with Athene Films and First Light Media. Besides scientific talks he enjoys giving talks to a wide variety of public venues, for example giving the annual 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. In his spare time he enjoys trekking, scuba diving and flying helicopters and aircraft. He was the president of a company before finishing a Ph.D. later in life and has since visited many of the Earth’s extreme habitats including diving in ‘Alvin’, the deep submersible. Dr Perry was shortlisted for a Sir Arthur Clarke Award in 2013 for his work on USKDC

Jenny Lyons, Director of Education

 Jenny Lyons 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. 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 launch of the 2017 Galactic Challenge.
When not working with UK SDC, 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.

Alison Ahearn, Deputy Director of GC Education

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.


Evan Meyrick, Chair

Evan Meyrick Evan has been involved with the UK Space Design Competition since 2012, and deeply enjoys helping others further their learning. After completing a degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College London, he currently works as a systems engineer specialising in information security for unmanned air vehicles and communications networks, with a wider interest in global security and counter terrorism.

Bill Richards, Vice Chair

Bill is a Maths teacher at Bede’s school in East Sussex and was introduced to the UK SDC in 2014 by one of his students asking, “Do you think we could enter this?” Frustrated with not being able to organise a combined entry for the following year’s UKSDC Micro event with his prep school, Bill decided the solution was to hold an event for nearby prep schools on similar lines. The rest is history and the Galactic Challenge was born!                         When not teaching Maths or enthusing about the UK SDC, Bill competes at Target Rifle Shooting or, as he puts it, ‘high precision paper punching’! He is unable to attend the 2017 UK SDC final because he will be in South Africa representing Great Britain!

Ben Laws, Operating Chair 2017-18



Ben started studying Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London in 2016. Before that, he was at Bedes Senior School, where he became enthralled with the UKSDC in all its forms after stumbling across the video entry while Googling ’Space Competitions to enter’. Alongside Bill Richards, he co-founded the Galactic Challenge and cannot wait to see the experience expand to other schools across the country, with extra emphasis on encouraging as much participation as possible!
Beyond the world of Imperial and UKSDC, Ben spends the balance of his time in Oman, where he tries to spend as much time on the water as he can, whether that be in a kayak, catamaran, or motorboat.


Nadia Torre Gjerdingen


Nadia is in the first year of a Mechanical engineering degree at Imperial College Having first come across the competition in 2014, she threw herself into the chaos of a video heat, regional competition and a national final throughout her sixth form. She helped to organise and launch the first ever Galactic Challenge, and is now excited to expand on this idea to see how it develops on a national scale.
Outside of the UKSDC and course studies, Nadia is on a Target Rifle Shooting team and, through university societies, gets to  enjoy every form of dance under the sun.


Dr Kerstyn Comley

In 2010 Kerstyn Comley co-founded the Wapping and Shadwell Secondary Education Trust which opened Wapping High School in 2012. As lead project manager for the pre-opening phase Kerstyn was intimately involved with every aspect of setting up the school including: strategy and vision, building design and staff recruitment. Kerstyn provided further project management support for the Trust during the final months of the building’s refurbishment and the school’s transition from temporary to permanent accommodation. The refurbished school building was short-listed by the Architect’s Journal for a Retrofit Award 2014. Kerstyn remains actively involved with Wapping High School as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Learning Committee.
Inspired by her experience in designing and setting up a school Kerstyn is currently running a project to look at how innovative educational spaces and timetables can be used to transform the learning environment.