Introducing Jennifer Piatek

Jennifer Piatek is an associate professor at Central Connecticut State University, where she teaches introductory courses in geology, astrobiology, and planetary astronomy as well as the occasional upper level course in planetary geology or remote sensing. Her research projects involve analysis of thermal infrared images of Mars with the goal of a better understanding the geologic processes that have affected the surface, as well as modeling of lab measurements of light scattering from analog materials. She also is active in projects that use advances in technology to help improve geoscience education through the use of high resolution panoramic images in the classroom and developing inclusive field experiences for students of differing abilities (with the benefit that both of these are great reasons to visit interesting geology, whether just down the road or a long plane flight away).
She was previously a postdoc at the University of Tennessee, and earned a PhD from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003, an M.S. from Arizona State University, and a B.S. in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. When off campus (indeed there is such a place), she spends too much time consuming popular science fiction and fantasy, and not enough time outdoors.

Introducing Ryan Anderson

Dr. Ryan B. Anderson (@Ryan_B_Anderson) is a planetary scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, AZ, where he works on a mix of research and software development.  He got his PhD in Planetary Science from Cornell University. His thesis research played a role in the selection of Gale Crater as the landing site for the Curiosity Mars rover, and his work on analyzing Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS) data with neural networks and other methods led to a role on the ChemCam science team. Ryan is also a member of the science team for the SuperCam instrument on the upcoming Mars 2020 rover and has a few smaller grants of his own, including two Mars geomorphology projects, and one to develop an open-source Python tool for analyzing LIBS (and other) spectra. He is also involved in a NASA-funded project to develop planetary science-themed after school activities for middle school students.

Ryan is passionate about science communication and education. He founded the Martian Chronicles blog, and enjoys giving public talks and generally sharing the excitement of science and planetary exploration.

Outside of work, Ryan enjoys spending time with his wife, baby, and two dogs. He also writes at his personal blog about non-science topics, and sometimes dabbles in fiction writing. He spends too much time on social media, and not enough on fun things like hiking and skiing.

Reintroducing Ángel R. López-Sánchez

Dr. Ángel R. López-Sánchez is an astronomer and science communicator at the Australian Astronomical Observatory and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Macquarie University. He studies how gas is converted into stars in nearby galaxies and how this affects galaxy evolution. He also provides support for visiting astronomers to the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT, Siding Spring Observatory, NSW). Dr. López-Sánchez is passionate science communicator who continuously gives talks and public lectures, writes popular science articles and organizes stargazing activities. He is very active in social media, his Twitter feed is @El_Lobo_Rayado.

Reintroducing Jonathan Fortney

Jonathan Fortney is a Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California, Santa Cruz, and the director of their Other Worlds Laboratory ( He received his PhD in Planetary Sciences in 2004 from the University of Arizona and was a postdoc for 4 years at NASA Ames Research Center before starting at UC Santa Cruz in 2008.

Jonathan’s major fields of interest are the atmospheres, interiors, spectra, composition, and evolution of planets, both inside and outside the solar system.  He focuses on modeling and theory of these objects, with targets that range from terrestrial planets to brown dwarfs.  He was a member of the Kepler Science Team during its prime mission and is currently a member of the Cassini Science Team.

Introducing Steven Rieder

Steven Rieder (@rieder) is a postdoctoral researcher at RIKEN Advanced Institute for Computational Science in Kobe, Japan. He is a computational astronomer, investigating the interaction of objects on scales from planetary dust rings to the cosmic web. His simulation tool-of-choice for this is AMUSE : a Python interface to a range of community codes.
Born in the Netherlands, Steven did his MSc at Utrecht University and his PhD at Leiden University, on a combined astrophysics/computation science project. Parallel to his PhD, he was the editor of Dutch astronomy youth magazine “Universum” and a board member of the Dutch Youth Association for Astronomy “JWG”. He is an amateur observer, currently without access to a telescope. In no specific order, he is fond of photography, board games, cycling, exploring Japan, guitars and bunnies.

Introducing Abigail Stevens

Abigail Stevens is a PhD candidate at the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. She researches X-ray spectral variability from compact objects (stellar-mass black holes and neutron stars) in order to understand the extreme physics in strong gravitational fields, and is very excited for NICER to be launched in a few months. Abbie is also a “pythonomer” and is involved in the open science community. Previously, Abbie did her MSc at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and her BA at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA. In addition to her astronomy research, she enjoys tea, interior design, memes, reading blogs, watching tv, and exploring new places.

Introducing John Bochanski

John Bochanski is an Assistant Profesor of Physics at Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.  His astronomy research is focused on using cool stars (both dwarfs and giants) to understand the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way.  John has primarily used survey data, including the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, 2MASS, UKIDSS and others.  In addition to his survey work, John helped build and commission FIRE, an IR spectrograph on the Magellan telescopes.  John also periodically writes for Sky & Telescope.