Crew 171 – SEDS

Mission Plan


Crew Commander – Alison Gibson

Alison is a graduate student in the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she studies engineering and works as a research fellow in the Man-Vehicle Laboratory. Previously, she received bachelor’s degrees in aerospace engineering and psychology at Arizona State University, where she conducted research in the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab and served as the Lead Engineer on the ASU Dust Devils Microgravity Team. Her graduate research involves the development and analysis of a wearable device to aid astronauts in obstacle avoidance, and she plans to continue research with the technology while at MDRS. She is passionate about human spaceflight and hopes that her research efforts will contribute to astronaut safety and efficiency during future manned missions to Mars. She enjoys spending time outdoors in her free time and is certified in Wilderness and Remote First Aid.


Executive Officer – Anselm Wiercioch

Anselm Wiercioch is a recent graduate from Virginia Tech’s mechanical engineering department. He’s spent the last few months advising the university’s Hyperloop project team and hopes to ultimately develop nuclear engines for deep space exploration. While at the MDRS, Anselm will be testing various water collection technologies in hopes of achieving scalable results that could be utilized on Mars or in other remote locations. Anselm is also serving as the group’s executive officer and journalist, and will be chronicling Crew 171’s desert adventure. Anselm hopes to set foot on the actual Martian surface in his lifetime and wants to help advance the technology required to get us there.


GreenHab Officer – Brittany Zimmerman

Brittany Zimmerman received her Bachelors of Science in mechanical engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) in 2011. Following graduation, she accepted a position as an aerospace systems engineer with Rockwell Collins as a part of the Systems and Integration Team for Proline Fusion avionics packages. She worked on integration of approximately 170 subsystems, brought up test rigs (fully-functioning replicas of Bombardier cockpits), and emerged as the physical interconnect focal. During her time at Rockwell, Brittany was on the board for the Latino Employee Network and organized cultural events for the community. While at Rockwell, Brittany entered the Space Studies master’s program at the University of North Dakota. After taking three classes remotely, she realized that she needed to be immersed in the campus environment and left Rockwell to pursue her love of space full-time. Brittany is currently finalizing her thesis work on ecology of closed environments and biospherics. Her research at MDRS will compare plant growth properties (edible/inedible biomass growth, growth rates, leaf size, etc.) of five different cultivars.


GreenHab Officer & HSO – Sean Gellenbeck

Sean Gellenbeck is extremely excited to be part of the SEDS-USA Mars Desert Research Station Team as the crew biologist! He is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in systems engineering at the University of Arizona and plans to continue his studies in the systems engineering Ph.D. program with a minor in agricultural and biosystems engineering. His research revolves around the concept of bioregenerative life support, which is a concept that utilizes plants to provide fresh water, oxygen and calories for astronauts. The University of Arizona has a unique position in this field with its Prototype Martian/Lunar Greenhouse (MLGH) project which has the goal of making this concept a reality. Sean currently works as the lab manager for the MLGH and has previously worked through the university on the OSIRIS-REx Asteroid Sample Return Mission. He holds a B.S. in aerospace engineering and his biggest life goal is to one day set foot on the surface of Mars.


Crew Engineer – Geoffrey Andrews

Geoffrey Andrews is a Ph.D. student in Purdue University’s department of aeronautical and astronautical engineering where he studies rocket propulsion and computational fluid dynamics. Geoffrey graduated from Lehigh University, earning a B.S. in mechanical engineering and mechanics with a minor in aerospace engineering before matriculating into his current studies at Purdue. He credits his fantastic parents and sister with his zest for life and passion for learning, and his unusual childhood spent around cars, aircraft, and strange machines for his love of all things mechanical. While his work nowadays involves lots of abstract math and computer simulations, he hopes to put his more practical engineering skills to use as crew engineer for the SEDS-USA MDRS team. Geoffrey is excited to see how the space industry develops in the new era of commercial spaceflight, and hopes he can do his part to bring his dream of affordable space access closer to reality one agonizing computation at a time.


Crew Astrophysicist – Connor Lynch

Connor Lynch is a junior at Brown University studying astrophysics and planetary geology. He is currently involved with Antarctic climate research to have a better understanding of the current and ancient climate of Mars. He and his team use time-lapse photography as well as glacier data from Antarctica to infer what geologic processes exist and once existed on Mars. He is also involved with the LZ Dark Matter collaboration with Brown and at many other institutions worldwide. The search to confirm the existence of dark matter races on as LZ and many other similar experiments seek to be the first ones to do so. His main goal in life is to walk on another planet and become an astronaut. In addition to his studies and research, he is also on the varsity golf team at Brown and competes all over the country.