Dr. Xiao-Shan Yap is Lead Senior Researcher at EPFL Space Center, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne in Switzerland and (guest) Assistant Professor at Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
Yap is pioneering a scientific research agenda on ‘earth-space sustainability’ to specify opportunities and challenges for a sustainable planetary future as anthropogenic activities expand to outer space. While space-based technologies rapidly become the next-generation infrastructures that accelerate sustainability transitions on Earth, an exponential rise in space activities has quickly led to new anthropogenic challenges such as increasing space debris in Earth’s orbit. Mismanagement of increasing space activities not only threatens the long-term functions of space-based infrastructures for daily activities on Earth, it causes environmental consequences to the Earth system, undermines ongoing transitions, and exacerbates global inequality.
In 2020, Yap founded the corresponding Earth-Space Sustainability research initiative aiming at ensuring a sustainable and functional earth-space future. Yap is also a senior Steering Group member of the international Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN), Co-Lead of the Working Group on Earth-Space Governance at the Earth System Governance Project, and Chair of Commons in Space conference at the International Association for the Study of the Commons (IASC).