the team

proudly human


Initially, an off-world community would rely heavily on the knowledge and resources of teams on Earth. The Off-World Tech Hub and ARC will constitute a diverse and wide range of collaborators, from production partners, to advisors, to sponsors of technology and funding. Our team has the expertise, network and passion to make this collaborative project a success. The team leaders, who will also go to Antarctica, are Dr Adriana Marais (research), Akshay Nayak (engineering) and Julie Graham (communications). The Off-world experiments are not just simulations, but real communities that will showcase the human spirit and resilience required to build self-sustaining settlements in some of the Earth’s harshest and most isolated environments, through collaboration. Our team has the skills and expertise in research, engineering, management and communication along with access to a network of individuals and organisations around the world taking part in the leaps of imagination, science and technology required for the realisation of future off-world human settlement as well as sustainability on Earth. The Off-World Tech Hub and the ARC are initiatives of Proudly Human.


dr adriana marais

team leader

Dr Adriana Marais, award-winning theoretical physicist, Mars One astronaut candidate and founder of Proudly Human, will head the “Off-World” simulation experiment, bringing her research expertise to the project and guiding the crew through the nine-month journey. Dr Marais is an internationally renowned speaker on exploration-driven innovation, director at the Foundation for Space Development, faculty at Singularity University & Duke Corporate Education and a member of the South African government advisory task team on the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Akshay nayak

head of engineering

Akshay Nayak is a mechanical engineer with a masters in technology management and is currently Technology and Customer Relations Manager at Securonix. With his expertise in areas from engineering design to cybersecurity, he will drive and oversee the Off-World Tech Hub and its relationship with a range of technology partners, and manage the range of technologies in Antarctica for ARC’s sustainability, from life support to communication.

julie graham

head of communications

Julie Graham is a travel journalist who thrives outside of her comfort zone. As Head of Communications at the Foundation for Space Development and Proudly Human, and with her expertise in teaching theatre and crafting conversation into content, it will be through her eyes and mind that we experience the story of ARC and convey it from Antarctica to the world through the “Off-World: Antarctica” documentary series to be broadcast globally.


carla sharpe


Carla Sharpe has an MBA from the International Space University and is currently working on her PhD in Space Studies at the University of Cape Town. She is a founder of the South African Space Association and currently serves on the Management Committee of both the Association and Women in Aerospace Africa. Carla is the Business Manager at Africa’s largest Science undertaking, the Square Kilometer Array Telescope (

Abigail Alling

Founder & President - Biosphere Foundation

For the past 3 decades, ‘Gaie’ has been actively engaged in marine conservation and environmental projects. She received a Masters of Science degree from Yale University and was the former Director of Marine Ecological Systems for the ‘Biosphere 2’ project and Assistant Director of Research.

Mark “Laser” Van Thillo

Chief Operations Officer & Captain of sailing vessel Mir - Biosphere Foundation

During the past two decades ‘Laser’ has managed all logistic and technical aspects of BF’s projects. He was the former co-Captain and Manager of Technical Systems for the ‘Biosphere 2’ project.

Sally Silverstone

Chief Financial Officer & Director of Agriculture & Forestry - Biosphere Foundation

Sally has worked in the field of conservation research and education for 36 years. She currently lives in NW Bali where she is also the Coordinator for our Biosphere Stewardship Education Programs. She was the former co-Captain and Manager of Agriculture & Food Systems for the ‘Biosphere 2 project.’


joanna higgs

Go Trolley Films - Production

Joanna Higgs, a skilled filmmaker, narrator and communicator, internationally award-winning documentary director/producer and potential PhD candidate has been a journalist, editor, producer and director for both local and international television networks. She started Go Trolley Films in 2007 and working with the ethos that ‘anything is possible’, the team has grown into a family of talented, committed professionals.

Jo is a specialist in media for development on the African continent with particular skills working in Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation. Go Trolley Films is profoundly proud to be the production partner for Proudly Human and the ‘Off-World’ series.