Introducing Bruce Macintosh

Bruce Macintosh is an astronomer studying extrasolar planets with high-contrast imaging. His PhD was at UCLA graduating in 1994, when UCLA was first starting its world-class infrared instrumentation lab – Bruce worked on the Gemini 2-channel IR camera for Lick Observatory. After that, he took a postdoc at Lawrence Livermore National Lab and then becomes a staff scientist at LLNL through 2013. At LLNL he worked on adaptive optics systems at Lick and Keck Observatory, and was one of the founders of the NSF Center for Adaptive Optics.

Together with Christian Marois, Bruce led the team that used Keck adaptive optics to make the first-ever images of an exoplanet system – the four young giant planets orbiting HR8799. He is the Principal Investigator for the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), an advanced AO coronagraph now on the Gemini South Telescope carrying out a survey for young planets. He also co-leads a coronagraph science team for the WFIRST instrument. He is active in astro science policy, having served on the ground-based optical/IR panel for the 2010 Decadal Survey, the Mid-Decadal Survey, and the just-completed Exoplanet Science Strategy panel.


Introducing Christian Schaller

Christian Schaller is the lead software developer for the HiRISE operations group at the Lunar and Planetary Lab at the University of Arizona. He specializes in mission planning and instrument commanding software. In addition to developing the HiRISE planning tools, he is currently developing similar tools for the CaSSIS camera for the University of Bern, one of the instruments aboard the ESA ExoMars 2016 Trace Gas Orbiter. He likes cats, robotic space exploration, prog rock, and Dungeons and Dragons.

Introducing Henry Ngo

Henry Ngo (@AstroDino; is a Plaskett Postdoctoral Fellow working at the National Research Council of Canada’s Herzberg Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Centre in Victoria, British Columbia. In addition to typing out extremely long affiliations, he is interested in the origin and evolution of giant exoplanets. Specifically, he uses the direct imaging method to search for planetary and binary star systems to reveal clues about planetary histories.
Henry is passionate about outreach and enjoys visits to Victoria-area public schools. He regularly thinks and tweets about the role of scientists in society, work-life balance for early career academics, creating a equitable, inclusive and diverse academic community, and the adventures of being a parent to a 1-year-old.

Introducing Brian Jackson

Brian Jackson ( is an assistant professor teaching astronomy in the Physics Department at Boise State University. Before coming to Boise State, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Dept. of Terrestrial Magnetism in Washington DC and before that, at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt MD. He earned a PhD in Planetary Sciences from the University of Arizona‘s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson AZ and my BS in Physics from Georgia Tech in Atlanta GA. His research focuses primarily on orbital dynamics and transit observations of extrasolar planets, planets outside of our solar system. He also does some planetary science field work, notably on Death Valley’s Racetrack Playa ( and on terrestrial and Martian dust devils.

Introducing John Wenskovitch

John Wenskovitch (@wenskovitch) is a PhD student in the Computer Science Department at Virginia Tech.  His research falls in a zone combining aspects of data visualization, human-computer interaction, and machine learning.  As a part of the Discovery Analytics Center, he works to develop intelligent and interactive techniques for the visualization and exploration of high-dimensional datasets.  His past work in collaboration with astronomers involved visualizing and interactively exploring spectral flux density data from stellar merger simulations.
John is also an amateur astronomer, volunteering his free time at observatories and with his own telescopes to share the otherwise-invisible wonders that can be found telescopically to all who are interested.  He is passionate about astronomical outreach, particularly regarding light pollution and basic science education.  He currently serves as Vice-President of the Roanoke Valley Astronomical Society, and is actively involved in outreach with the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh.
During those unfortunate nights when the moon is full or the weather is sub-par, John is also an avid science fiction reader, mediocre marathoner, accidental artist, nature enthusiast, and traveler (having set foot in 43 US states and 25 countries over the past five years).

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.