Introducing Erika Nesvold

Erika Nesvold is a Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. She grew up in a military family and has lived on numerous army bases in the U.S. and Europe. After completing a B.S. in mathematics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, she decided at the last possible moment to give astronomy a try, and moved all the way across the UMBC campus to complete an M.S. and Ph.D in the physics department. She did most of her graduate research at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, working with Marc Kuchner on developing a circumstellar debris disk model that included collisions between planetesimals. Now at Carnegie, Erika is continuing to develop and apply her debris disk models in collaboration with astronomers from Los Angeles to Boston. Erika currently lives just over the river in Alexandria, Virginia, and works every Sunday as a volunteer firefighter and EMT at the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company in Maryland, where she has been a member for nearly thirteen years. She also tweets (inconsistently) @erikanesvold and occasionally blogs for, a graduate student-run arXiv reader’s digest, and, a wellspring of fascinating stories from history, science, and the history of science.


Introducing Matthew Kenworthy

Matthew Kenworthy is an Associate Professor at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands.

His interests are in the direct imaging of exoplanets, along with the coronagraphic optics and image reconstruction techniques that can increase our sensitivity to seeing these faint companions. More recently, he’s become interested in circumstellar and circumplanetary material detected when it eclipses its parent star, most notably the complex two month long eclipse seen towards the young star J1407.
He grew up in Ewell, a small town just outside of Greater London, and became interested in astronomy despite the bright orange skies at night. He did his undergraduate degree at Oxford University, and then went to the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge for his PhD on astronomical instrumentation, building fibre-fed integral field spectrographs. Spending a decade in the USA, mostly at Steward Observatory with the Center for Adaptive Optics group and a short stint in Cincinnati, he moved to Leiden just over six years ago. He cycles around the Netherlands with his family, makes bread and beer, and occasionally tries to run in the more scenic parts of town. He’s on twitter as @mattkenworthy.

Introducing Steve Crawford

Steve Crawford is the SALT Science Data Manager at the South African Astronomical Observatory. His primary responsibilities include managing the data archives for the Southern African Large Telescope and producing the data pipeline for observations from the telescope. When not helping to run SALT, he carries out research looking at star forming galaxies in galaxies clusters, but is generally interested in how to use optical observations to learn new things about our Universe. He also helps train the next generation of astronomers in South Africa as a lecturing in the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme, develop new instrumentation, and is a contributor to the Astropy project, particularly for development of optical data reduction and analysis software.

Steve Crawford grew up in southern New Jersey just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, which has led to a lifelong obsession and heartbreak with Philly sports teams. He obtained a BA in astronomy and physics from the University of Virginia, and then a PhD in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin on star forming galaxies in galaxies clusters. Almost 10 years ago, he moved to Cape Town and spends his time playing Ultimate Frisbee, being outdoors, or traveling.

Introducing Sarah Milkovich

Sarah Milkovich is a planetary geologist and system engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Sarah works on spacecraft science operations, at the point where science and engineering meet. Sarah is currently the lead Science System Engineer for the Mars 2020 Rover, which will seek signs of ancient life on Mars. She has previously worked on Mars Science Laboratory (the Curiosity rover), the Mars Phoenix lander, the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft at Saturn, and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, where she was the investigation scientist for the HiRISE camera. She has won JPL and NASA team awards for her efforts to return the best possible science within spacecraft engineering constraints.

Sarah grew up in Ithaca, New York. She earned her B.S. in planetary science from Caltech, and her M.S. and Ph.D. from Brown University in planetary geology with studies of mountain glaciers and polar deposits on Mars, and volcanism on Mercury. Sarah currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Jason, their son Marko (4), and their Labrador retriever Ginger. She dabbles in knitting, beading, and playing trombone.  Sarah regularly tweets at @milkysa and very occasionally blogs at

Introducing Mark Marley

Mark Marley is a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Mountain View California and also a Consulting Professor at Stanford University, where he teaches classes on planetary and exoplanet science. As a theoretician his research primarily focuses on the atmospheres of solar and extrasolar giant planets and brown dwarfs. Specifically he aims to interpret the spectra of these objects to help understand their composition, cloud and thermal structures, and ultimately their origin and evolution through time. As a member of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey team he recently helped to interpret the first planet discovered by this ground based coronagraphic imaging camera, 51 Eridani b. He has served on a variety of NASA committees, including both the Terrestrial Planet Finder-Coronagraph and the Exo-C space telescope Science and Technology Definition Teams. Beyond planetary and brown dwarf atmospheric modeling his research interests include giant planet seismology and atmospheric variability in a variety of substellar atmospheres.

A third generation Arizonan, Mark grew up in Phoenix, attended Caltech where he majored in Geophysics and Planetary Science, and then moved back home to attend graduate school in Planetary Science at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. His thesis work with Bill Hubbard and Carolyn Porco explored how perturbations in Saturn’s gravity field induced by planetary oscillation modes of the planet might create gaps and waves in the rings. The predictions of this work were ultimately confirmed, 25 years later, by the Cassini mission to Saturn. After graduate school he held a NASA Postdoctoral Fellowship under the late Jim Pollack, where he studied the atmospheric structure of ice giant planets. In 1993 he accepted a faculty position in the Astronomy Department of New Mexico State University where he stayed until 2000, at which time he moved back to NASA Ames as a civil servant scientist. When not modeling exoplanet atmospheres Mark enjoys hiking and exploring with his wife of 25 years, Mars scientist Ginny Gulick, his two daughters, and intrepid dog Pepsi.