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Between global leaders


Karman Fellow 2022

Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian Ph.D

Tour de Moon, International Space Orchestra & University of the Underground

Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian Ph.D (She/ They) is an award-winning designer of experiences, a filmmaker and creative director, who creates multi-dimensional experiential projects at the intersection of film, science, tech, theatre, politics and design.

Wired awarded her with their inaugural Innovation Fellowship,and Icon magazine recognized Nelly as one of the top 50 designers ‘shaping the future’.Nelly has been distinguished as the first on the list of top 50 women on the speaker circuit by The Drum Magazine;Creative Review named her one of the Creative Leaders 50, Dezeen selected her as one of the '50 inspirational women in architecture and design’.She is the founder and director of the International Space Orchestra the world’s first orchestra of NASA space scientists and astronauts;and the founder of the tuition-free university-University of the Underground-which includes board members and activists like Prof.Noam Chomsky,Pussy Riot and Prof.Arjun Appadurai,this tuition-free educative and cultural program is supporting plurality of thinking, free and transnational teaching and unconventional practices in the basement of nightclubs.Nelly is the author and director of five feature-length documentaries(ie: The International Space Orchestra, 2013;Disaster Playground, 2015; I am (not) a monster, 2019;Tour de Moon (2023)and Red Moon (2024)).In 2020,Nelly became a grantee of Sundance Institute with her new documentary-in production-called Red Moon.For this film,Nelly investigates her family origins in Algeria and Armenia-which led to the start of her radio show on Worldwide FM-the 'Nelly Boum Show'.Her various roles include Director of Nelly Ben Hayoun Studios,Designer of Experiences at the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute,Senior fellow of the Hannah Arendt center for Politics and Humanities,Vice-Chair of the International Astronautical Federation Technical Committee on the Cultural Utilization of Space, and a member of the International Academy of Astronautics Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence permanent committee amongst others. Ben Hayoun is one of the founding members of the IDEA committee at the IAF (Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Administrative Committee).She founded and runs the Space Culture session at the International Astronautical Congress, where she works to amplify new and fresh ways to implement outreach and critical thinking into scientific institutions and beyond with members of the public. Ben Hayoun has written technical sessions- the latest one- Decolonial Practices in space is currently in development.Nelly is a keynote speaker and has spoken worldwide about the value of experiential design practices in the context of nightlife,outreach, community and education.Her work has been exhibited at the National Museum of China, V&A,the MET and other leading institutions.She has two doppelgangers who work with her to appear at multiple places at the same time,a Barbie doll and a Lego made of herself.

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