Introducing Adam Becker

Adam Becker is a freelance astrophysicist, working to help people understand the universe and other complicated things. He earned a PhD in cosmology from the University of Michigan in 2012, where he wrote his thesis on the distribution of matter and energy in the universe right now, and what it can tell us about the behavior of the universe a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

Since then, Adam’s career has focused largely on science communication and publication. He worked at New Scientist magazine, where he designed and coded several interactive features, and also wrote about new developments in physics and astronomy. After that, he worked in the Labs division at the Public Library of Science (PLOS), an open-access scientific publisher, where he developed tools to change the way scientific research results are shared.

These days, Adam does contract and consulting work in science communication, open science publishing, and astrophysics research software development. He is also managing editor of the Open Journal of Astrophysics, slated to open its doors in fall 2015. He’s written a series of articles for the BBC about big questions in astrophysics, and he’s also writing a book about the sordid untold history of quantum physics.

The rest of the year, Adam can be found on Twitter at @freelanceastro. He also has a sporadically updated blog at He lives with his fiancée in Oakland, California.

Introducing Tanya Harrison

Tanya Harrison is a Ph.D. candidate in Geology at the University of Western Ontario’s Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) in Canada. Her current research focuses on martian gullies—how they formed and evolved, and what they can tell us about climate change in Mars’ recent past. From 2008–2012, she was on the science operations team for the Context Camera (CTX) and Mars Color Imager (MARCI) aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. She was also a science team collaborator for the Curiosity rover’s Mast Cameras (Mastcam), Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), and Mars Descent Imager (MARDI), working in science operations for all three cameras at Malin Space Science Systems.
Tanya holds a B.Sc. in Astronomy and Physics from the University of Washington, and a Master’s in Earth and Environmental Sciences from Wesleyan University. In addition to being a Ph.D. student, she is a Web Editor Intern with The Planetary Society, editor of the Geological Association of Canada’s “Planetary Matters” newsletter and keeper of their Twitter account (@pgg_canadian), and a professional photographer. She has also been very active in education and public outreach for over 15 years with organizations/events such as CPSX, Expanding Your Horizons, Norwescon, The Mars Society, and The National Space Society.
The rest of the 51 weeks of the year,  you can find Tanya tweeting at @tanyaofmars

Introducing Paul Crowther

Paul Crowther is a professor of astrophysics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Sheffield, where he has been based since 2003. He received his PhD in astronomy from University College London in 1993, where he also spent 5 years as a Postdoc and held a Royal Society University Research Fellowship for a further 5 years. He is currently Director for Learning and Teaching in the Department and delivers a number of astronomy courses to undergraduates including stellar atmospheres, stellar evolution and the interstellar medium.

Paul’s primary research interests involve massive stars in the Milky Way and other galaxies, especially Wolf-Rayet stars, although he has also worked on supernovae, starburst galaxies and Planetary Nebulae. He contributes to the YouTube channel Deep Sky Videos which is (mostly) devoted to the Messier Catalogue and is co-funded by Sheffield and Nottingham. He has also co-produced Sounds of the Cosmos, which involves a live performance of Holst’s Planets Suite by the Sheffield Rep Orchestra interspersed with a narrated overview of astronomy, plus original visuals created by a local graphic design agency. This premiered at the University’s Festival of the Mind in Sept 2014, and has been recommissioned for Sheffield Doc/Fest in June 2015 and Latitude festival on 18 July.

Paul’s usual twitter account is @Paul_Crowther

Introducing Michael Busch

Michael Busch is a research scientist at the SETI Institute.  He primarily works on characterizing near-Earth asteroids using radar and radio techniques; using the Arecibo Observatory, the Goldstone Solar System Radar, and other telescopes.  Lately, he has focused on both potentially hazardous asteroids and asteroids on orbits that are readily accessible for future space missions.

Michael received bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy at the University of Minnesota in 2005, and a PhD in planetary science at Caltech in 2010.  He worked as a postdoc at UCLA and at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory before starting at SETI in 2013.

You can find Michael on twitter at