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Lectures That Last are a series are lectures aimed at inspiring students all over the world. Here, world-renowned scientists and professors from the world’s most prestigious universities and industries share their knowledge, advice, and words of wisdom to inspire students to succeed. All students around the world can access these lectures at no cost.


Dr. Willian da Silveira

Dr. da Silveira is currently a Lecturer in Molecular Genetics and Genomics at the Staffordshire University and an adjunct lecturer at the International Space University. He is also co-head of the Space Omics Topical Team funded by ESA.

Dr. da Silveira has a Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy-Biochemistry, a Master’s degree in Biosciences applied to Pharmacy, and a Ph.D. in Medical Sciences, obtained at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. After the completion of his PhD, he became a Research Fellow in Bioinformatics Analysis at the Centre for Genomic Medicine (CGM) at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). There, he focused on Big Data analysis and Omics advances and started his collaboration with NASA Genelab. In 2019 he assumed the role of Research Fellow in Food System Biology at the Queen´s University Belfast (QUB) investigating the effect of food contaminants in gene expression networks and senescence in primary prostate cells. In 2022 he was part of the Class-2 of the NASA STAR training program.


Dr. Sudipta “Nila” Devanath

Dr. Sudipta "Nila" Devanath is a doctor and lawyer working on acute care telemedicine in the U.S.

Dr. Devanath's journey began in Pittsburgh, PA, where she earned her bachelor of philosophy in neuroscience and psychology and bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh. She started her M.D. at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, but realized the interplay between medicine and law in the current policy landscape and wanted to combine these passions. In the middle of medical school, she took a leave of absence to earn her J.D. from Harvard Law School where Dr. Devanath also played a role in several leadership positions throughout the university including president of the graduate and professional student government. From there, she returned to Pittsburgh to complete her M.D., and after receiving her doctorates, she completed her medical training at Yale University in internal medicine, where she also held several leadership positions including co-president of all resident and fellow trainee employees at Yale.

She currently serves as the Associate Medical Director for Transitions of Care at Sentara Healthcare, a health system which includes 12 hospitals throughout the states of Virginia and North Carolina in the US. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, acute care telemedicine was close to science fiction, but with hospitals overburdened, new solutions to care for the sickest patients from the home needed to become a reality and fast. In Dr. Devanath's position, she was able to expand these programs throughout several hospitals helping to offload overwhelmed healthcare systems and innovate in systemic patient care while controlling the spread of disease. In her spare time she has spoken on the interplay between healthcare and politics, most recently speaking at the U.S. Capitol with Congresswoman Jayapal and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on H.R. 3771, a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives aimed at increasing research efforts to study populations that are disproportionately affected by heart disease.

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Dr. Argita Zalli

Dr. Argita earned her PhD at the University of Birmingham, UK. Her research investigated the effects of two agonists on immune function with the goal of better understanding how stress affects the ability of the cytotoxic cells of the immune system to fight infection. Following her PhD, Dr. Argita carried out her postdoctoral research training at University College London, where she published several high-impact scientific journals in the field of psychology whilst collaborating with world-leading scientists, including a Nobel Prize winner.

While conducting scientific research, Argita also worked as a lecturer as she designed, taught, and directed several biomedical sciences courses for medical students. Argita was awarded the UCL medical students’ top teaching award for the neuro-immunology course she designed, delivered, and directed. After completing her first post-doc training, Dr. Argita moved to Imperial College London, where she conducted medical research in the field of haematology.

Her passion for higher education teaching led Dr. A Zalli to complete her MSc studies in University Learning and Teaching at Imperial College London, whilst working full time and being a mum. Over the past couple of years, Dr. Argita has focused on teaching and pedagogical training of university teaching staff, and she is currently a teaching and learning specialist lead in the Faculty of Medicine, clinical years.

Dr. Argita is also the co-founder of We Speak Science, a non-profit institution, the aim of which is to increase awareness of science and medicine in the USA and Europe. Through We Speak Science, Dr. Argita co-founded a charity called “Aferdita Ime,” in collaboration with other world-class oncologists and scientists, whose aim is to help cancer patients through psycho-social support and counselling.

Dr Argita co-founded a charity called “Aferdita Ime”, in collaboration with other world-class oncologists and scientists, whose aim is to help cancer patients through psycho-social support and counselling.

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Ajit Jaokar

Based in London, Ajit’s work spans research, entrepreneurship, and academia relating to artificial intelligence (AI) with Cyber-Physical systems. He is the course director of the course: Artificial Intelligence: Cloud and Edge Implementations at the University of Oxford. He is also a visiting fellow in Engineering Sciences at the University of Oxford.

Besides this, he also conducts the University of Oxford courses: Digital Twins, Cybseecurity, and Agtech. Ajit works as a Data Scientist through his company, feynlabs – focusing on building innovative early-stage AI prototypes for complex AI applications.

Besides the University of Oxford, Ajit has also conducted AI courses at the London School of Economics (LSE), Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (UPM), and as part of The Future Society at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is also working on a book to teach AI using mathematical foundations at the high school level.

Ajit is the Chief AI Officer of, a venture-funded company based in Berlin. His work at Oxford and his company is based on the interdisciplinary aspects of Artificial Intelligence, including AI with Digital Twins, AI with Quantum, AI for Metaverse, and AI in Agtech and Life Sciences.

His teaching is based on a methodology for AI and Cyber-Physical systems, which he is
developing as part of his teaching and research, especially for Engineering Sciences. His Ph.D. research is based on AI and Affective Computing (how AI interprets emotion). Ajit has contributed to the World Economic Forum and the European Parliament on
technology and AI themes. Ajit is interested in social causes and mentors young people at Oxford and beyond, especially for the Autism Spectrum and neurodiverse skill sets for learning Artificial Intelligence based on mathematical foundations.


David Mackay

David was born in Thurso, in Caithness and brought up in Bettyhill and Helmsdale in Sutherland. He learnt to fly in 1977 while studying Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Glasgow. After graduating he joined the Royal Air Force and flew the Harrier GR3 in what was then West Germany before being selected as an exchange student with the French Test Pilot School.
In 1988 he was posted to the Fixed Wing Test Squadron at Boscombe Down where, amongst other things, he carried out the first Harrier field site covert night operations, the first single seat low level night attack flights on the Harrier GR7, first ship compatibility trials on the Sea Harrier FA2, and first spinning trials on the Tucano basic trainer. He became Officer Commanding Fast Jet Test Flight in 1992 and in the same year was awarded the Air Force Cross by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for his work there.
In 1993 he took up a position as an instructor at the Empire Test Pilots’ School at Boscombe Down and became Principal Fixed Wing Tutor in 1994. In 1995 he retired from the RAF and joined Virgin Atlantic, becoming a captain on the Boeing 747 and, later, on the Airbus 340.
Having evaluated the SpaceshipOne flight simulator in early 2004, David became involved in the Virgin Galactic project soon after its inception as its test pilot. In 2009 he joined the team full time and became Chief Pilot in 2011. He has over fifty flights in WhiteKnightTwo and seven powered flights in SpaceShipTwo, including three spaceflights.
David was also an historic aircraft display pilot in the UK for 22 years and has over 14,000 hours of flight time on around 150 different types from all eras in aviation, including the world’s oldest original flying aircraft, a 1909 Bleriot.


Vladimir Pletser

Vladimir Pletser earned a Master of Engineering in Mechanics in 1979, a Master of Sciences in Geophysics in 1980 and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 1990 from the University of Louvain, Belgium.
He is currently Director of Space Training Operations at Blue Abyss, a company based in UK, proposing a new approach for astronaut training.
From 2016 to 2018, he was Visiting Professor – Scientific Adviser at the Technology and Engineering Centre for Space Utilization of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China, supporting the preparation and development of microgravity research instrumentation for parabolic flights and for the future Chinese Space Station.
Previously, he worked for 30 years as Senior Physicist – Engineer at the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) of the European Space Agency (ESA), developing scientific instruments for microgravity research in fluid physics, crystallisation of proteins and zeolites and on dexterous manipulation on board the International Space Station.
He was also responsible of the ESA aircraft parabolic flight programme. He logged more than 7350 parabolas, representing more than 39h 30m of weightlessness, equivalent to 26 Earth orbits, and 53 min and 50 min at Mars and Moon g levels, during which he participated in several hundred experiments in physical and life sciences.
He holds the official Guinness World Record for the number of airplanes (14) on which he flew parabolas. He served as Flight instructor for public Discovery Parabolic Flights. Astronaut Candidate for Belgium since 1991, he was Payload Specialist candidate for several Spacelab missions, including Spacelab LMS for which he spent two months in training at NASA-JSC, Houston, in 1995. He was Astronaut Training Instructor for Parabolic Flights with ESA astronauts and for NASA and DLR astronauts for several Spacelab missions.
Selected in 2001 by The Mars Society, a private organisation promoting the human exploration of Mars, he participated in three international simulation campaigns of Mars missions in the Arctic Circle in 2001 and in the Desert of Utah in 2002 and as Crew Commander in 2009.
He is visiting Professor in 20 universities in Europe, USA, Canada, Africa, Israel, and China. He has more than 650 publications, including 6 books, 16 book chapters, 63 articles in refereed journals and 138 articles in international conferences proceedings. He is member of the International Astronautical
Academy and of several other academies and scientific organizations.


Francesko Hela, PhD 

Francesko finished his high school in Albania where he participated and won different prizes in Biology Olympiads. He finished his undergraduate studies with a major in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Middle East Technical University, graduating as an Honour student. He earned his PhD in Koc University, Cellular and Molecular Medicine Program. His research focused on elucidating the molecular mechanisms behind the effect of autophagy in luteal granulosa cells and its role in sex steroid synthesis and cholesterol metabolism. He has started his postdoctoral studies in Joslin Diabetes Center in Harvard Medical School where his research is focused on the role of senescence in beta cell biology in Type 2 Diabetes. He has published several papers in respected journals and participated in different scientific conferences.  


Keti Zeka, Ph.D.

Dr Zeka received her PhD in “Chemical Processes and Biotechnology Innovation” from L’Aquila University, in Italy, having investigated bioactive compounds in Crocus sativus. During the course of her PhD research, she actively sought and set up international collaborations, with placements in Japan and at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, which resulted in original and review publications.
At the end of her PhD, Keti followed her developing interest in regenerative medicine and cancer and had the initiative to join the world-renowned Gurdon laboratory on an Erasmus+ fellowship for 6 months, where she had the chance to be acquire knowledge and expertise in epigenetics of nuclear reprogramming.
While studying chromatin modifiers, Dr Zeka became increasingly interested in these molecules’ capacity to catalyse post-translational modifications in non-histone proteins and how this activity may extend and complement their range of targets and effects at the level of chromatin.
Keti’s research at the University of Cambridge (UK) focused on the cross-talk
between epigenetics and metabolism in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Her studies have been supported by prestigious personal fellowships such as the Italian Association for Cancer Research (AIRC, 2016-2017), the Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (2018-2020) and the Cambridge Philosophical Society Postdoctoral Fellowship (2020). Since December 2020, Keti’s scientific curiosity has driven her postdoctoral journey to the Giustacchini Lab, at the UCL Zayed Centre for Research, to work on paediatric leukemic stem cells.
The importance of Keti’s project has been recognised through the prestigious award “Olivia Hodson Cancer Fund 2021”, a special purpose Fund within Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity and the UCL institute of Child Health. Furthermore, Keti is an active member of the Institute as she is part of the GOSH BRC Junior Faculty and Child Health Open Research Advisory Board.

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