Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS)



At UCL there is a huge space research community.

As well as the many researchers within the 'hard sciences' there are also many humanities scholars at UCL whose work relates to space and astronomy, in a range of subjects including history, art, literature, and philosophy.

Director | Assistant DirectorCommunications ManagerArtist-in-Residence | Affiliates | Centres & Depts


David Jeevendrampillai

Dr David Jeevendrampillai is an Anthropologist of Outer Space
Dr David Jeevendrampillai is an Anthropologist of Outer Space. As a research fellow on the ERC funded ETHNO-ISS project his current research examines the curation, narration and use of Earth Imagery from the International Space Station. He is interested in the anthropology of the future, technology and modernity, the politics of knowing place and emergent conceptions of the human and the body, particularly in relation to technology and data. His interests encompass but are not limited to discussions on land rights, post-cosmopolitanisms and colonialism. He is interested in bringing together the wide array of academic disciplines involved in space science to engage in a critical discussions around outer space. 

Assistant Director

Paddy Edgley

Paddy Edgley
Paddy Edgley is an anthropologist and PhD candidate at UCL Anthropology. His work ethnographically traces how people engage with the cosmos through stargazing and astrophotography. His current project involves working with amateur astronomers in and around central London. He focuses on the relations between humans and their planetary/cosmic environment. He studies the intellectual, material, and social work that goes into constructing cosmic perspectives, space communities and astronomical traditions. He is particularly interested in the limits of knowledge and knowledge making practices. Through his study of cosmic knowledge he is also interested in the history and form of the scientific tradition, ecological thought, and ideas of the anthropocene, as well imagined human futures. His research interests include: cosmopolitics, prospective futures and utopianism, space anthropology, and astronomy and cosmology. 

Communications Manager

Adryon Kozel
Photo of Adryon Kozel

Adryon Kozel is an anthropologist and PhD candidate at UCL Anthropology. As an associated researcher with the ERC-funded ETHNO-ISS project, Adryon researches how astronauts' and space agencies' use of social media reinforces and constructs global and extraterrestrial culture and imagination. Through a digital ethnographic investigation of the social media environments of the ISS, her project examines the ways in which communities of space enthusiasts emerge and how people relate to place, science projects, and extreme environments through the virtual. She is interested in exploring how to conduct and co-produce social science research with online communities of enthusiasts through building on and developing innovative digital ethnographic methods. Her research interests include the anthropology of outer space, diverse narratives of the future, storytelling, virtual reality, digital co-presence, enthusiasm, home, place, and identity. As Communications Manager, Adryon is responsible for expanding the Centre's social media and promoting convergences, conversations, and events around space studies at UCL.

COSS Artist-in-Residence

Sarah Fortais

Artwork 'spacesuits for animals' (Sarah Fortais, 2016), photo by Josh Jones


Dr Sarah Fortais is a Canadian artist and researcher interested in bricolage: disassembling, repurposing, and modifying existing objects or ideas to generate new understanding. Fortais received a PhD in Fine Art from the Slade School of Fine Art (2018), where she built spacesuits for animals, borrowed NASA moon rocks, produced the first graphic representation of every animal that has left Earth's atmosphere, and created strategies to observe and define what it means to call a person or thing ‘cool’. Fortais has also created a copy of an Apollo A5-L pressure suit out of materials sourced from the streets of London, and has produced a series of performative mission simulations and exhibitions, including 'Voyageur' (with Nikolas Ventourakis) for, "Hors Pistes: La lune: Zone Imaginaire à Défendre", in the Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2019). She received the Kenneth Armitage Sculpture Prize and the Westbury Arts Centre Graduate Residency, Milton Keynes, in 2016. In 2018, with Dr. Dawn Gaietto, Fortais put together an interdisciplinary conference focussing on the nonhuman (titled:"Rendering the Invisible Visible") at University College London, and was awarded an Octagon Grant. Currently, Fortais is the Specialist Casting Technician for Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, and delivers lectures on themes such as cool, bricolage, the non-human, copying, mapping, spacesuits, and defamiliarization. www.sarahfortais.com 

COSS Affiliates

The COSS Affiliates list is made up of the staff and doctoral researchers at UCL whose work involves the critical study of Outer Space. The affiliates make up the intellectual energy and vibrancy of the centre. The centre is run for and by its affiliates who use the centre to foster interdisciplinary and public conversations on the study of outer space. COSS sends internal newsletters to its affiliates each term and promotes their work through COSS social media channels. To become a COSS Affiliate please send an email to david.jeevendrampillai@ucl.ac.uk and lucy.stagg@ucl.ac.uk

  • Eleanor S. Armstrong (Institute of Education): Critical approaches to narratives and pedagogies around space science in science museums, media and popular culture.
  • Nicola Baldwin (IAS/Urban Labs): "For reasons I don't really understand - space is a recurring theme in my plays and scripts"
  • Victor Buchli (Anthropology): The material culture of Low Earth orbit. The anthropology of Outer Space
  • Giles Bunch (Anthropology): How spaceflight practitioners conceptualise human behaviour, health, sociality, and the body in outer space and on Earth.
  • Timothy A Carroll (Anthropology): Interested in the properties of materials as they are taken up in the, quite often, creative production of religious subjects.
  • Simon Faithfull (Slade School of Fine Art): His work has been described as an attempt to understand and explore the planet as a sculptural object - to test its limits and report back from its extremities. Within his work Faithfull often builds teams of scientists, technicians and transmission experts to help him bring back a personal vision from the ends of the world.
  • Luke Fenton-Glynn (Philosophy): philosophy of science, with a subsidiary interest in formal epistemology. My focus to date has been on issues concerning causation, probability, and laws of nature.
  • Jenny Gorbanenko (Anthropology): The International Space Station and the Russian Orthodox Church: extra-terrestrial worlding of the Russian Orthodox Christians.
  • Andrew Gregory (Science & Technology Studies): Ancient science, especially astronomy, cosmology & cosmogony.
  • Myles Harris (Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction): Researching prolonged field care (healthcare) in remote environments and space health.
  • Lucy Helton (Slade School of Art): Humans’ dominant environmental footprint in space which mirrors our technologically mediated exploration and transformation of environments on Earth. 
  • Osnat Katz (Science & Technology Studies): the history of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, combining oral history and material culture approaches.
  • Ilan Kelman (Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction): Causes and circumstances of deaths from astronomical phenomena, e.g. deaths and potential deaths from NEO (Near-Earth Objects such as comets and asteroids) impacts, along with geomagnetic storms and other forms of space weather.
  • James Kneale (Geography): Literary geographies and representations of space, particularly in non-realist genres (science fiction, horror, ghost stories, utopias, etc). 
  • Thibaut Maus de Rolley (SELCS): travel writing; imaginary voyages and alternative worlds (especially lunar travel narratives).
  • Ziba Norman (Institute of Education): works on the theological implications of emergent transhumanism, with a particular interest in Artificial Intelligence and Bio-enhancement.
  • Aaron Parkhurst (Anthropology): local systems of destiny, cosmology, agency, body practices, and kinship, and the languages one uses to articulate the 'self' and world are transformed. 
  • Sophie Page (History): European medieval magic and astrology, especially in relation to orthodox religion, natural philosophy, medicine and cosmology.
  • Divya M. Persaud (Mullard Space Science Laboratory): Remote sensing for planetary geology and geophysics.
  • Michael J. Reiss (Institute of Education): Science education, religion and ethic.
  • Sacha Stern (Hebrew and Jewish Studies): the Jewish calendar, the concept of time, and the history of calendars in Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
  • Will Stewart (Geography): the geopolitics of the ISS, i.e. thinking about the ISS as a geopolitical assemblage

Relevant UCL centres and departments