Introducing Julie Rathbun

Julie Rathbun is a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and a professor of Physics at the University of Redlands. She received her BS in Physics from the State University of New York at Buffalo, the first in her family to receive a college degree. Her PhD is in Astronomy from Cornell University where she focused on planetary science and surface heat flow processes. While she never used a research-class telescope during her Phd program, she has since used NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea to study active volcanoes on Io, a moon of Jupiter. Julie has also used data from Galileo, Voyager, Cassini, and New Horizons in her quest to understand how Io’s volcanoes work. Her favorite volcano (and the one she has studied most extensively) is Loki Patera, the largest volcano in the Solar System. While Io is her first love, she’s also interested heat flow on other satellites, particularly Europa and Enceladus.

She is currently on sabbatical from the University of Redlands, so is not teaching this semester. But, when teaching, you can find her teaching upper level physics classes and introductory classes for non-majors. She has developed two new courses for non-science major students: Physics of Disneyland and Cosmorphology: Geology and Art, the later she co-teaches with Monica Aiello, professional artist at Eurekus in Denver, CO. She normally tweets at @LokiVolcano.


Introducing Moses Milazzo

Moses Milazzo was born on and grew up on an almost-self-sustaining, off-the-grid ranch on the border of the Navajo Reservation, between Flagstaff and Winslow, Arizona. Meteor Crater was visible as a distant mesa. Moses attended elementary school on the reservation and high school in Flagstaff. The Milazzo ranch’s northern Arizona desert sky was so pristine and clear that the Milky Way was usually bright enough to light his morning path to the bus stop (light pollution is encroaching even on this isolated ranch). From very early in life, Moses was fascinated with mathematics and in the second-grade decided to become a mathematics teacher. During high school, he noticed that the teachers he connected with best had life experiences outside of teaching and so he decided to study a science of some sort before teaching.

Moses attended Northern Arizona University for a few of years while he dabbled in mathematics, physics, electrical engineering, computer science, and teaching. While Moses attended NAU, he worked at the U.S. Geological Survey providing computer support and mosaicing Magellan RADAR images of Venus. When he decided to get his act together and finish school, Moses moved to Tucson to finish his B.S. in mathematics and joined the Planetary Image Research Laboratory at the University of Arizona working with the Galileo SSI team planning, processing, and interpreting images of the Jovian moons. When he completed his B.S. in mathematics, Moses stayed at the University of Arizona to pursue a Ph.D. in planetary sciences. For his dissertation, he studied thermal remote sensing of endogenic activity at Io (lots!) and Mars (not so much!). After completing his Ph.D., Moses joined the MRO/HiRISE calibration and targeting teams. After working with the HiRISE team for several years, Moses moved to Flagstaff to rejoin the USGS Astrogeology Science Center. Last year he took a year off from science to teach mathematics and computer science at a local middle and high school. Moses is back at the Astrogeology Science Center working on HiRISE calibration, image processing and analysis software development, and CubeSat mission development while also teaching high school robotics.
The rest of the year you can find him tweeting at @OtherOrbScience

Introducing Peter Maksym

Peter Maksym grew up in Wheaton, IL, just a bike ride from Fermilab, and was just learning high school physics when the top quark was discovered. He makes no pretensions to being nearly as awesome as Edwin Hubble or Grote Reber, even though they came from Wheaton, too. After earning his Bachelor’s in astronomy & physics at Yale, Peter worked briefly as an automated publishing consultant in New York, then for 5 years as a data specialist for the Chandra X-ray Observatory. He returned to the Chicago area for his Ph.D. at Northwestern University, is now in the third year of a postdoctoral position at the University of Alabama, and is actively looking for his next position (hire me! –PM). He normally tweets as @StellarBones (Dammit Jim, he’s a doctor, not a physician). His experience as an astrophysicist has been remarkably similar to that of Natalie Portman’s character in “Thor”. He’s also been known to perform improv comedy on occasion.

Peter’s interested in other kinds of “stellar bones”. He’s particularly interested the process of stars being ripped to shreds by the massive black holes which commonly inhabit the hearts of galaxies. These “tidal disruption events” comprise an emerging field with the potential to test extreme accretion physics and black hole populations. He’s also involved in the Galaxy Zoo, currently using extended emission line regions to study galaxies which may have just “shut down” from quasars. Both of these topics coincidentally involve extreme black hole variability, but on very different timescales. He’s more generally interested in black holes of all sizes, and quite a lot of different things involving galaxies and galaxy clusters. His favorite astronomical tools include fine-toothed combs, the kitchen sink, and boneheaded perseverance.