Introducing Harriet Brettle

Harriet Brettle is a Planetary Sciences graduate student at the California Institute of Technology. She is the Strategic Partnerships Team coordinator of the Space Generation Advisory Council, supporting its mission to represent students and young professionals to the United Nations, space agencies, industry, and academia. Harriet has a keen interest in public engagement with space science, interactions between different fields relevant to space exploration, and the future of new space economy. 

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(Re)Introducing Michele Bannister

Dr Michele Bannister (@astrokiwi) is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Director’s Outreach Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom. An expert in the discovery and characterization of minor planets in the Solar System, she has been involved in the discovery of more than eight hundred new minor planets that orbit beyond Neptune. Originally from New Zealand, Bannister has worked at institutes in Australia, the US, and Canada. She was honoured in 2017 by the International Astronomical Union with asteroid (10463) Bannister.

Introducing Emily Lakdawalla

Emily Lakdawalla is an internationally admired science communicator and educator, passionate about advancing public understanding of space and sharing the wonder of scientific discovery.

Emily holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology from Amherst College and a Master of Science degree in planetary geology from Brown University. She came to The Planetary Society in 2001. She has been writing and editing the Planetary Society Blog since 2005, reporting on space news, explaining planetary science, and sharing beautiful space photos. Emily has been an active supporter of the international community of space image processing enthusiasts as Administrator of the forum UnmannedSpaceflight.com since 2005. She is also a contributing editor to Sky & Telescope magazine.

Her first book, titled The Design and Engineering of Curiosity: How the Mars Rover Performs Its Job, is due out from Springer-Praxis in March, 2018. The book explains the development, design, and function of Curiosity with the same level of technical detail that she delivers in the Planetary Society Blog. A second book, Curiosity and Its Science Mission: A Mars Rover Goes to Work will follow in 2019.

She was awarded the 2011 Jonathan Eberhart Planetary Sciences Journalism Award from the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society for her blog entry about the Phoebe ring of Saturn. Asteroid 274860 was formally named “Emilylakdawalla” by the International Astronomical Union on July 12, 2014. She received an honorary doctorate from The Open University in 2017 in recognition of her contributions in communicating space science to the public.

Emily can be reached at blog@planetary.org or @elakdawalla on Twitter.

Introducing Esther Hanko

Esther Hanko (@EstherHanko) is the local outreach coordinator of the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy of the UvA in Amsterdam, NL. She’s had an unconventional career path. After earning a master’s degree in Linguistics, she decided that an academic career was not for her and started working as a Linux system engineer in 2006. She worked for big companies like KLM (the Royal Dutch Airlines) but in 2015, she decided it was time for a change and started working for the API.

At the API, she organizes visits to the observatory. She also maintains much of the API website contents and the institute’s social media (@uva_api). One of her main goals is developing new audiences and finding ways to reach them. Another part of her job is maintenance of the observatory telescopes, working closely with a master student, in order to keep the students’ observing projects running smoothly.

She has been an amateur astronomer since 2012, after seeing an image of Io casting its shadow on Jupiter and realizing that she was now a grown up and could actually just buy herself a telescope. She also dabbles in no-telescope astrophotography, and shares her work online. She loves to write about her astronomy adventures and blogs about it in Dutch on her website oetie.nl. In her spare time, she is one of the moderators on the Dutch astronomy forum astroforum.nl, where one of her tasks is to help pick and write about the “Object of the Month”, a shared observing challenge.

She is passionate about creating awareness about light pollution, promoting the art of astronomical sketching, and teaching anyone who will listen to her that the skies are closer than you think.

Introducing John Noonan

John Noonan (@J_Noons) is a graduate student at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. For the last three and a half years he has worked on the European Space Agency Rosetta mission during its rendezvous and escort of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. More specifically, John works on the spacecraft’s ultraviolet spectrograph, Alice. Comets are typically thought of as some of the least altered objects from the beginning of the solar system, and their study helps bring planetary scientists as close as possible to this mysterious time. The ultraviolet realm of the electromagnetic spectrum is particularly useful for studying atomic and small molecular abundances, which is ideal for figuring out the formation location and thermal history of a comet.

John lived the vast majority of his life in the mountains of Colorado before moving to Boulder, Colorado to study Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Quickly after attending his first microbiology class he changed his major to astrophysics and graduated in 2016 summa cum laude. After graduation John continued to work on the Rosetta mission as well as a flight controller for NASA’s CYGNSS mission at the Southwest Research Institute. John moved to Tucson in August 2017 to begin his Ph.D. at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. You can find John riding his bike the vast majority of the time, which he finds to be the best stress therapy around.

Introducing James Davenport

James Davenport (@jradavenport) is a NSF Astronomy & Astrophysics postdoctoral fellow at Western Washington University, and a research fellow at the University of Washington’s new DIRAC Institute. His research is focused on stars, magnetic activity, flares, and starspots. He primarily uses data from the NASA Kepler and K2 missions, and is currently working on projects involving upcoming data releases from Gaia and ZTF.
For the past 5 years, Davenport has run a demographics survey of the annual AAS meetings that studies the gender dynamics of conference talks and Q/A periods. This work has found that men ask nearly twice as many talks as women in conference settings. However, the study is currently looking at ways to help level the playing field for all conference attendees. See this link for more details. (http://jradavenport.github.io/gender_study/)
Davenport currently maintains a monthly newsletter highlighting the latest in academic SETI research (http://seti.news), and is the author of the data, science, and visualization blog If We Assume (http://www.ifweassume.com). He earned his PhD from the University of Washington in 2015.

Introducing Rachael Ainsworth

Rachael Ainsworth (@rachaelevelyn) is a Research Associate at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (JBCA) at the University of Manchester. Her expertise lies in the interpretation of radio emission from protostellar systems in nearby star forming regions, particularly at very long (metre) wavelengths. Her primary research interests include astrophysical jets/outflows, star formation and evolution. She works on the Horizon 2020 RadioNET “Radio Interferometry Next Generation Software” (RINGS) project to develop software for calibrating dispersive delay corrections in long baseline radio interferometry for long wavelength telescopes such as the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR).

She is Open Science Champion for the Interferometry Centre of Excellence at JBCA, where she promotes, advocates and organises events relating to open science in astronomy. She is also a Mozilla Open Leader running the open project Resources for Open Science in Astronomy (ROSA), which aims to compile and tailor open science best practices from around the web into a toolkit for astronomers to work openly from proposal to publication. This project seeks input from the entire astronomy community, so feel to bookmark https://github.com/rainsworth/ROSA and become a contributor to the project in the coming weeks.

Rachael also organises the Manchester chapter of XX+Data (@xxplusdatamcr) – a community for women who work with and love data. The goal of the community is to bring together women with diverse expertise and experience to support one another, share experiences and talk data.