Dr. Xiao-Shan Yap is Research Scientist at Eawag 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 further into the frontier of outer space. While space-based technologies are quickly becoming next-generation infrastructures that accelerate sustainable development 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 an increasingly congested orbit will in turn severely disrupt daily operations on Earth when space-based infrastructures like navigation, telecommunication, and observation no longer function well.
In 2020, Yap founded the Earth-Space Sustainability research initiative aiming at ensuring a sustainable and functional Earth-Space system in the future. Yap is also a senior member of the Steering Group for Sustainability Transitions Research Network (STRN), a Research Fellow of the global research alliance Earth System Governance Project, a member of the Ostrom Workshop Space Governance Working Group, and co-chair of the international conference for Commons in Space 2022.
Yap was trained as a Development Economist during her Ph.D. and is now an interdisciplinary environmental social scientist. In 2015, Yap won a Swiss Government Excellence postdoctoral scholarship, followed by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship in 2017. She is an innovation and sustainability expert in sectors such as semiconductors, integrated circuits, water recycling, solar photovoltaics, and in recent years in the field of space-based infrastructures.