Introducing Steph LaMassa

Dr. Steph LaMassa is a Support Scientist at STScI who works on one of the instrument teams for JWST. Steph’s research focuses on the growth and evolution of supermassive black holes and how they co-evolve with their host galaxies. Steph is also interested in learning how highly variable active galactic nuclei provide insight into black hole feeding habits.
Dr. LaMassa organizes and hosts Astronomy on Tap DC (@AstroOnTapDC), which is an outreach event where astronomers give short, fun talks in a bar! When not working or doing public outreach, Steph enjoys running (albeit very slowly), reading, and going to concerts.

Introducing Laura Mayorga

Dr. Laura Mayorga (@mayorgalc) is a Harvard Future Faculty Leaders Fellow based at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She is interested in exploring the diversity in exoplanet atmospheres by using Solar System objects as analogs for their exoplanet counterparts. From flyby data of Jupiter taken by the Cassini Spacecraft she is laying the groundwork comparison dataset needed to understand the underlying, unresolved phenomena in the atmospheres and on the surfaces of planets around other stars.
A lover of accents and languages if she can’t be Cdr. Spock she would be Lt. Uhura. When not engaged in science research and communication, she enjoys cycling to the closest beach, crocheting the next unfinished project, or playing video games at home where her first duty is to be a warm lap to a caliby named Stellar. She finds the rules for what makes something a cookie vs. a biscuit fascinating and she plays the ocarina while traveling, where the cat won’t try to stop her.

Introducing Bryan Méndez

Bryan Méndez is an astronomer & education specialist at UC Berkeley’s Space Science Laboratory. Dr. Méndez works to educate and inspire others about the wonder and beauty of the Universe. He develops programs for the public through the web and museums; develops educational resources for students, teachers, and the public; conducts professional development for science educators; and teaches courses in astronomy and physics at UC Berkeley and local community colleges.

 The beautiful night sky in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan inspired Bryan to study astronomy. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1997 with degrees in Astronomy, Physics, and Music. He then continued his studies at the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in 2002 with a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. Dr. Méndez researched the distribution of galaxies in the nearby Universe and its implications for the overall structure of the Cosmos.

He is husband to his best friend and love of his life, father of the most precious twin boys in all the cosmos, a sci-fi/fantasy geek with particular obsessions for Star Wars and Star Trek, a saxophonist, an aspiring filmmaker, and a Californian transplanted from Michigan. Bryan is bicultural, of Mexican and European backgrounds, and strives to foster diverse perspectives in his work.