5 minute read 30 Nov. 2022
Space tech team individual photos

Meet the EY Space Tech Lab team

By Anthony Jones

Space Tech Leader & Oceania Assurance Innovation Leader

Anthony is leading the development of EY’s strategy and business capabilities across the domain of Space and Space technology managing internal capability development, go to market initiatives.

5 minute read 30 Nov. 2022

What began as a passion project among our staff is now a fully-fledged team developing data-driven solutions that bring Space Tech down to Earth to improve outcomes for every kind of business.

The EY Space Tech Lab already has a pretty big team, and it’s growing fast in line with the growing recognition that Space has immense potential to improve life on Earth.

It began with groups of our people meeting informally, yet regularly, to discuss its potential. Today, the EY Space Tech Lab collaborates with teams at Microsoft, NASA, Geoscience Australia and Swinburne University of Technology, and our team members are helping EY clients access the benefits of Space here on Earth across North America, Asia-Pacific and Europe. Our job is to bring the best that Space and data science has to offer to our clients, and to EY globally.

We have hired astrophysicists/neuroscientists into the team, alongside scientists who are Space Tech subject-matter experts and data science experts, too. We have a unique group of people with really deep scientific knowledge and we’re already seeing how translatable it is to our clients’ businesses.

Now we’re up and running, I want to acknowledge the importance of that grassroots movement inside EY in the early days. Those people understood the potential for EY clients and the opportunity for society to benefit from Space in a meaningful way. Once I was introduced to Space Tech, I couldn’t un-see it either. We started to test the concept with our EY account teams and clients and people were immediately enthralled by the concept. We received some funding from EY’s global innovation group to build out our first project and started to invest in our capability and team on the ground.

Now the EY Space Tech Lab is open for business, our diverse team of experts are finding new ways to build a better working world.

  • Dr Tiantian Yuan

    A photographic portrait of Tiantian Yuan

    Dr Tiantian Yuan, Principal Data Scientist - Client Lead, Space Tech

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/tiantianyuan/

    I was trained as a professional astronomer. I have a bachelor, master, and PhD degree, all in astrophysics! I worked as an astrophysicist for 15 years, from 2006 to 2021. During this time, I designed and led innovative data projects to discover unknown structures of distant galaxies. One highlight was discovering the cosmic ‘ring of fire’ galaxy, the most ancient spiral galaxy 11 billion years ago, which gained media attention around the world. I have had my work published in ~50 scientific journals, including Nature.

    What’s your earliest memory of being aware of Space?

    When I was little, my favourite evening routine was to climb to the roof of my parents’ house and watch for the first appearance of stars. I felt a strong sense of freedom and awe just to think about what's out there, in Space.

    I spent most of my 20s and 30s doing blue-sky research on outer Space. I came to the EY Space Tech Lab because I want my next career to focus back on Earth, on humanity, and on benefiting the social-economics of our world. The EY Space Tech Lab is such a pleasant surprise – a sweet spot connecting my past and current aspirations.

    When did you join the EY Space Tech Lab?

    When I joined EY in April 2021, I was given the opportunity to help write a notebook about radar data for the Global Data Challenge. Then I was introduced to an innovative team in the EY Data and Analytics practice who was doing a Space Tech proof of concept for a client. That later evolved into multiple exciting Space Tech engagements, which I was fortunate to be part of for one year.

    My role today is essentially to practice the art of data science.

    What does a typical day look like for you in the team?

    There is no typical day as my tasks evolve at different stages of our product/project cycle.

    One thing I have found amusing is Earth Observation (EO) and Astronomical Observation (AO) share the same enemy: clouds! EO is looking down during the daytime and AO is looking up at night-time, and both are at the mercy of clear skies. The way out of this curse is to use the radio wavelength. We have radio astronomy and radar remote sensing available in both fields, though they are harder to interpret than the optical data. It’s either deal with the clouds, or crack the harder shell of radio observations.

    What’s your personal favourite area of Space to explore?

    Space Tech is such a young industry, its multidisciplinary nature and wide applications bode for fast-shifting landscapes. If I pick a favourite today, I might have to revise tomorrow. As for today, my favourite is bushfire mitigation, because my hometown is in the middle of experiencing the worst fire in decades, and it is so scary. I want to explore how Space Tech can help.

    What’s the potential of Earth Observation to build a better working world?

    I am excited about EO’s capability to bring human activities to be in more harmony with our environment and other life species. No EO satellite can capture regional information without having to circle the entire Earth at least once. We share the same planet, the same environment, and the same time in history. EO data is powerful and agnostic. If we take EY’s humans-at-the-centre approach, then every EO application we have in our business will be for a better working world.

  • Dr Jack White

    A photographic portrait of Jack White

    Dr Jack White, Head of Data Science, Space Tech

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/jackawhite/

    I have an undergraduate degree with honours in Physics and a PhD in Computer Science from Swinburne University of Technology. My PhD research focused on AI and deep learning with applications in remote sensing and biotechnology.

    What’s your earliest memory of being aware of Space?

    I grew up in country Victoria on the top of a tall hill and I used to stargaze with my dad who was a pilot. I found my passion for science and Space through him.

    As a student of physics, I’ve always been captured by the wonder of Space and universe. This extended to my fascination with the human mind and machine sentience, which led to my study of AI as a PhD student. I was lucky enough to be included in Space-related research for satellite imagery and even launching a small experiment to the International Space Station. The more work I did with these topics, the more I realised that this was the field I wanted to work in, combining my passion for AI and Space.

    When did you join the EY Space Tech Lab?

    I first assisted the fledgling Space Tech team in June of 2021 as a contractor through Swinburne University. In 2022, after several successful engagements, I was delighted to join EY full-time.

    As a Space Tech and AI subject-matter expert, my role is to advise on the design of scientific solutions to Space-related business problems. I also get involved with development work, help accounts teams to scope out feasible work for client engagements with Space Tech and consult with external professionals from entities including NASA, CSIRO, Planet and Swinburne University.

    What does a typical day look like for you in the team?

    My day typically involves speaking with diverse teams about problems we can solve from Space. I have the rare opportunity to then investigate satellite data and build solutions that can vary from rapidly identifying bushfires to mapping native vegetation for conservation purposes. I also assist in building the data-science strategy for how our team interacts with client teams and supports the development of services and products for clients.

    It might be a little corny, but I’m still amazed at how beautiful the earth is from Space. Getting to look at the varied landscapes across the planet and all its natural diversity continues to be a wonderful experience.

    What’s your personal favourite area of Space to explore?

    The unexplored! It’s always been a fascination of mine to learn about the elements of Space that we know little about. Whether that’s looking back in time through the James Webb telescope or beneath the surface of the ground with Earth Observation (EO) technology, I like to sit at the edge of what’s possible, where the truly special science takes place.

    What’s the potential of Earth Observation to build a better working world?

    EO technology is only just beginning to be utilised and will impact every aspect of the industry when it is adopted. For me, the most exciting part is the impact it will have on environmental sustainability and conservation. Tracking the impact of climate change on systems across the planet will bolster efforts to reduce the adverse effects that we’re commonly experiencing day-to-day. It’s highly motivating to know that our work could have such a positive impact on the future of our planet.

  • Emma James

    A photographic portrait of Emma James

    Emma James, Head of Product, Space Tech

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/emmajames2039/

    Having worked for many years in the Qantas digital and CX team, I joined EY to build new and innovative solutions across a broad client, technology and industry base. I just completed my MBA at RMIT, focusing on tech innovation and digital entrepreneurship and now lead EY’s Space Tech product development program.

    What’s your earliest memory of being aware of Space?

    I remember going to visit family in Broken Hill, outback NSW, and I was amazed at how many stars I could see in the sky out there – even shooting stars, which you don’t get to see much growing up in Sydney.

    I’ve always found Space fascinating but never had an opportunity to work in the field.

    When did you join the EY Space Tech Lab?

    In October 2020, I thought Space Tech sounded cool. I was convinced it could be something which could be productised. I pestered Anthony Jones until he let me join the team. I now lead the wonderfully talented EY Space Tech Lab product team.

    What does a typical day look like for you in the team?

    We have daily standups to manage the product build, meetings with clients to understand their problems, meetings with EY partners getting to think of the “art of the possible” for our product, meetings with our designers and technology teams to create a product which is easy to use for our clients, most of whom are not PhD data scientists.

    What’s your personal favourite area of Space to explore?

    I love how fast Space technology is evolving. We went from Sputnik to Space Shuttles to now reusable and autonomous Starships by SpaceX. We have rovers on Mars, Space tourism is becoming a “thing”, we’re starting to manufacture products in Space, and we’ll soon have broadband from Space! 

    Earth Observation isn’t just what we already get through satellite view on Google Maps. Satellites can see beyond the human eye. My mind is blown time and again by the technology, InSAR can “see” displacement of the Earth’s surface down to 1mm – from Space! This is especially important where we can use Space Tech to monitor and measure deformation on land allowing our clients to better manage the stability of critical infrastructure stability such as roads, railways and even specific assets like tailings dams.

    What’s the potential of Earth Observation to build a better working world?

    There are so many. I love the idea of taking something which people think is only for NASA and Musk/Bezos/Branson, then building a Space Tech tool to put into the hands of real people in real jobs, allowing them to make informed decisions about their assets, or boost their ability to make a difference across their biodiversity and decarbonisation programs.

    If EY Space for Earth can help to inform where to plant trees for decarbonisation, or help people see their remote assets without having to physically attend through dangerous terrain, help prevent bushfires if we see there’s dry vegetation encroaching a rail line or power line, or help insurance companies respond quickly after a natural disaster, then I think we’ve done a pretty good job in helping to build a better working world.

  • Dr Rick Evertz

    A photographic portrait of Rick Evertz

    Dr Rick Evertz, Principal Data Scientist - R&D Lead, Space Tech

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/rick-evertz/

    PhD in neurophysics/computational neuroscience – Bachelor of Science (Physics Major – First class Honours) from Swinburne University of Technology. I have worked in academia and industry across a range of interesting research projects, most recently in a neurotech startup, developing an objective measure of brain function in diseased and healthy brains.

    What’s your earliest memory of being aware of Space?

    When I was about 6, I remember looking out my window at night at the clear night sky and having my first existential crisis after learning the sheer scale/incomprehensibility of the Cosmos. We get to exist for an infinitesimally small amount compared to the age of the universe, so I want to fill as much of that time exploring life’s big questions.

    When did you join the EY Space Tech Lab?

    My good friend Dr Jack White mentioned they were working on an interesting problem around water anomaly detection that needed some extra hands. I was fortunate enough to participate in an eight-week consulting proof of concept project with EY and officially joined the EY Space Tech Lab a couple of months later. Now I am a data scientist working on developing the Space Tech science and technology capabilities that enable us to make novel offerings to our clients.

    What does a typical day look like for you in the team?

    Many meetings with a range of teams and stakeholders, followed by a lot of research/scoping and subsequent development of the specific data science offerings (water anomaly detection for example).

    I am inspired by how new the field is, from both an industry and science perspective.

    What’s your personal favourite area of Space to explore?

    The Orion nebula is incredible through a large telescope at a dark sky site.

    What’s the potential of Earth Observation to build a better working world?

    High fidelity and accurate water anomaly detection that incorporates multi-channel data (multispectral and SAR) that can be applied across a range of areas for a diverse number of use cases. Water security and scarcity is a significant issue for the world. Remote observation and smart data analytics have great potential to provide insight into how these issues can be better managed.

  • Claire Bayford

    A photographic portrait of Claire Bayford

    Claire Bayford, Head of Solutions and Growth, Space Tech

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/claire-bayford/

    I have a Graduate Diploma in Public Relations and a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communication from RMIT University, and have studied Design Thinking at Stanford University. I have 17 years of experience in the startup, government and private sectors. Innovation, storytelling and making change that adds value is my sweet spot.

    What’s your earliest memory of being aware of Space?

    When I was a kid, I went to see the fireworks bonfire night in the UK. I remember looking up at the stars waiting for the fireworks and asking my parents what all those dots in the sky were. Since then, I’ve been fascinated about being able to see a glimpse of other worlds.

    The vantage point of Space provides an incredible ability to improve life right here on Earth. I’m passionate about solving old problems in new ways with Space Tech, from predicting human disease, to making companies more productive and safer for the communities they serve.
    Also, it’s SPACE! Enough said?

    When did you join the EY Space Tech Lab?

    About 18 months ago, I started talking to colleagues about a problem my innovation team uncovered with a client. We considered using drones and AI to solve the problem, but then realised satellites provided much greater insights over vast distances, faster, cheaper and more safely. Since then, I’ve been part of the founding team that’s made Space Tech a top 3 priority for our firm, winner of Asia-Pacific Innovation of the Year and a thriving business.

    I’m the Head of Solutions and Growth for the EY Space Tech Lab. My role is about identifying opportunities to grow the business and to reimagine how clients solve old problems in new ways. In essence, I’m one of the dreamers of Space Tech, who creates new compelling value propositions and collaborates with others to make that a reality.

    What does a typical day look like for you in the team?

    I collaborate with people all day long! Yes, my diary is jammed full of meetings, largely spent:

    • uncovering unmet customer needs
    • working with UX designers to create dashboard visualisations that create game-changing technology applications
    • opening the EY Space Tech Lab doors to EY businesses across the globe
    • pursuing growth initiatives and partnerships
    • business development
    • bringing the Space domain to EY’s existing service offerings.

    Satellite capabilities continue to amaze me. Satellites can see far more than the human eye, from emissions to risks across vast distances, like moisture content in soil and vegetation, changing land topography, water quality and much more. Imagine all the extra value we can create if we combine human imagination to this extraordinary view of the world.

    What’s your personal favourite area of Space to explore?

    Terraforming planets to help humans live in Space. I know this sounds far-fetched, but it’s not that far away.

    What’s the potential of Earth Observation to build a better working world?

    • Making fires history. We can detect fire and predict where it will go next, saving countless lives and communities.
    • Predicting human disease. Thanks to some incredible EY expertise, we can see the environmental factors that lead to human disease.
    • Creating a smoother ride. We have the chance to change the way transport and infrastructure is managed for the better, for example, identifying water that’s pooling along train tracks to prevent derailments or asset degradation.
  • Patrick Manley

    A photographic portrait of Patrick Manley

    Patrick Manley, Data Specialists - Climate Change and Sustainability, Space Tech

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrickthomasmanley/

    I have a BSc in Natural Sciences from the University of Durham and have spent more than 10 years consulting in data and analytics.

    What’s your earliest memory of being aware of Space?

    My dad trying to explain constellations to me – perplexing to this day!

    When did you join the EY Space Tech Lab?

    I have been fortunate to be part of the team since 2019 when I helped design the 2021 Global Data Science Challenge which measured wildfires from Space. At that time, I’d spent 10 years working in data, so I had a good understanding of how Space Tech could be applied to real-world problems and our clients’ businesses.

    I support the demonstration projects with clients and develop pre-sales capability. Essentially, I help get projects off the ground and communicate the benefits of Space Tech to our clients.

    What does a typical day look like for you in the team?

    Responding to a lot of questions, finding the right mix of technical details to help communicate our Space Tech projects that are already in flight, as well as those proposed.

    One of the Earth Observation applications that has amazed me has been our ability to detect leaning poles by analysing shadows in satellite images in relation to the angle of the sun – simple and beautiful. The potential of satellites to work together in a constellation to create high fidelity and frequency data products is also amazing and has huge potential.

    What’s your personal favourite area of Space to explore?

    The measurement of biodiversity changes is really critical to our future and we need a solution to measure biodiversity changes at scale to understand the causes and implications. Space Tech is the best solution we have for this.

    What’s the potential of Earth Observation to build a better working world?

    We can use Space Tech to improve the efficacy and timeliness of prediction of changes that matter EY clients on a large scale. It can also contribute to our community by improving our understanding of climate change impacts and mitigation. A good example of this is the creation of the Global Data Science Challenge, where we activated a worldwide STEM community to create detection and prediction models for bushfires which can be shared across the world.

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Summary

What began as a passion project among our staff is now a fully-fledged team developing data-driven solutions that bring Space Tech down to Earth to improve outcomes for every kind of business.

About this article

By Anthony Jones

Space Tech Leader & Oceania Assurance Innovation Leader

Anthony is leading the development of EY’s strategy and business capabilities across the domain of Space and Space technology managing internal capability development, go to market initiatives.