(In Alphabetical Order)
Gabriel Alvarado-Marín - a web designer, illustrator and animator working at the SETI Institute. His current projects include the creation of a website and supporting illustrations aimed at introducing astronomy concepts to children, graphics for an iphone game presently in the works and the concepts for two additional SETI-flavored games. He has a BFA in animation from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Dale T. Andersen - The exploration of the Antarctic continent readily conjures up images of desolation. But for humans to survive there, they must be members of carefully planned, integrated teams. As the American leader of a joint US/Soviet expedition to Antarctica, biologist Dale Andersen spent six months with a multinational, multicultural crew in this remote, hostile environment, carrying out research relevant to the search for life on Mars. “In addition to the rigors of the local environment,” says Andersen, “we had to address the challenges of our differing cultures and languages.” Buy Dale Andersen's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Dana Backman Dana Backman is director of SOFIA's Outreach programs. An infrared astronomer, his research interests include formation of planetary systems, nearby stars with planetary debris disks, and the evolution of our solar system, especially the Kuiper Belt. He also teaches introductory astronomy and other science courses at Santa Clara University and in Stanford University's Continuing Studies Program. He is co-author of three introductory astronomy textbooks with Mike Seeds of Franklin & Marshall College.
Andre Bormanis - Andre Bormanis is an American television producer, screenwriter and author of the book Star Trek: Science Logs. Bormanis is most notable for his involvement in the long-running Star Trek franchise, and was the science consultant on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. He also wrote several episodes of the Voyager and Enterprise series, as well as acting as science/technical advisor on the "Next Generation" films. He was also a writer and producer for the CBS science fiction drama Threshold; the CBS drama series Eleventh Hour; the ABC Studios production Legend of the Seeker; and the upcoming Disney Studios production Tron: Uprising. Buy Andre Bormanis' SETIcon II Interview on DVD
Adrian Brown - a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute who analyses spectroscopic data gathered by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. For example, he’s interested in finding subtle hints that large bodies of water might once have flooded the northern regions of this now-dry world, hints that the Orbiter’s spectroscope could provide. In addition to his search for water, he also hunts for clues to volcanic activity in these same northern realms, because the energy provided by such eruptions could fuel microscopic life. A native of Australia, Adrian has spent a lot of time walking the rugged outback of the western part of that continent, learning how minerals in dry environments can be the fingerprints of water. That expertise helps him search for clues to Mars’ hydraulic past, when not just water, but alien life might have decked the landscape.
Nathalie A. Cabrol - Exploration, whatever its focus, is limitless, multi-facetted, and exquisitely complex. The understanding of how and why planets evolve, whether they could have hosted habitats for life, how climate change impacts their habitability - and for Earth, its biodiversity - are questions that need to be addressed through a synergetic approach by looking at many different and complementary angles simultaneously. Nathalie’s vision of exploration reflects this philosophy. Exploration takes Nathalie from Mars to the summit of the highest volcanoes in the Andes, to the bottom of lakes, and to the most arid deserts in the world. She bridges planets by deciphering their past from the present and their present from their past, and builds a vision of their future.
Douglas Caldwell - A decade ago, astronomers could only speculate about whether planets were a happy commonplace in the universe, or distressingly rare. The discovery of hundreds of worlds around other stars has shown that planets orbit at least 5 to 10 percent of all stars. But how many of these planets are Earth-size, and possibly Earth-like? Physicist Doug Caldwell is an expert on one of the most promising schemes for finding small worlds far beyond our solar system: looking for the slight dimming of a star caused when a planet crosses between it and us.
Lynette Cook - most widely known as an out-of-this-world space artist, Cook has enthralled others with the wonders of the cosmos via her depictions of planets discovered outside our solar system. Published worldwide in books, periodicals, and documentaries, these renderings have been featured on ABC7 News and in USA Today.
Edna DeVore - Science and astronomy educator Edna DeVore is the Deputy CEO and the Director of Education and Public Outreach (EPO) at the SETI Institute. She’s been a researcher, planetarium director, teacher, and curriculum writer, and currently is busy with projects related to education and SETI. Notable among these are the “Life in the Universe” curriculum materials for students in grades 3-9 and a new high school course, “Voyages Through Time”. Edna also co-directs the education and public outreach programs for two NASA missions: SOFIA and Kepler.
Frank Drake - conducted the first modern SETI experiment in 1960, continues his life-long interest in the detection of extraterrestrial sentient life. He participates in an on-going search for optical signals of intelligent origin, carried out with colleagues from Lick Observatory and the University of California at Berkeley, using the 40-inch Nickel telescope at Lick. Frank also continues to investigate radio telescope designs that optimize the chances of success for SETI (he proposed the plan used in the design of the Allen Telescope Array, based on some of his work of more than forty years ago.) He is also interested in the possibility that the very numerous red dwarf stars, stars that are much less bright than the Sun, might host habitable planets. Find out why Frank thinks you should attend SETIcon II
Jonathan Fay - a software developer and passionate amateur astronomer who develops software for Astronomy, imaging and visualization. He is the Principal Software Architect for WorldWide Telescope at Microsoft Research. In the four years since WorldWide Telescope has launched is has been used by more than 7 million people ranging from students to astronomy researchers and on platforms ranging from web browsers to giant full-dome digital planetariums. Buy Jonathan Fay's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Alex Filippenko - Alex is the Richard & Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor in the Physical Sciences at UC Berkeley. An elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, he is one of the world's most highly cited astronomers and has received numerous prizes for his research. His primary areas of research are supernovae (exploding stars), active galaxies, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, and cosmology. He was a member of both teams that used observations of supernovae to discover the accelerating expansion of the universe, which was honored with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics to the team leaders. Winner of the top teaching awards at UC Berkeley and voted the “Best Professor” on campus a record 9 times, he was selected as the National Professor of the Year in 2006. He has produced five astronomy video courses with "The Great Courses," wrote an award-winning college textbook, and appears in numerous TV documentaries, including about 40 episodes in "The Universe" series on The History Channel. Buy Alex Filippenko's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Debra Ann Fischer- Debra Fischer is a professor of Astronomy at Yale University. Her research is centered on the detection and characterization of planets orbiting other stars. Since 1997, she has participated in the discovery of more than 150 planets, working with colleagues Geoff Marcy (UC Berkeley), Paul Butler (Carnegie Institution) and Steve Vogt (UCSC). Working with colleague Jeff Valenti (Space Telescope Science Institute) she has modeled spectra of stars on planet search programs at Lick Observatory, Keck Observatory, the Anglo-Australian Observatory, demonstrating a strong correlation between the chemical composition of stars and the presence of gas giant planets. Buy Debra Ann Fischer's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Chris Ford - Chris Ford is currently RenderMan Business Director at Pixar Animation Studios with over 20 years experience in computer graphics software development and media production technology. Formerly at Autodesk, Alias, Silicon Graphics, and Wavefront Technologies, Chris has been the Product Manager for most of the modeling, animation, and rendering software tools used in professional feature film special effects, animation, and space and astronomical visualization. Chris is also President of the Mount Diablo Astronomical Society, a member of the Board of Directors of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), and an astro-photographer. Buy Chris Ford's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Andrew Fraknoi - Andrew Fraknoi is the Chair of the Astronomy Department at Foothill College and Senior Educator at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. He teaches courses on "astronomy and physics for poets" to about a thousand students each year. In 2007, he was selected as the Professor of the Year for the state of California by the Carnegie Endowment for Education. He appears frequently on local and national radio, explaining astronomical developments in everyday language. His book for children, "Disney's Wonderful World of Space" was published in 2007, he is the lead author on a series of college astronomy textbooks, and he has edited two books of science and science fiction for Bantam. Asteroid 4859 has been named Asteroid Fraknoi by the International Astronomical Union in recognition of his contributions to science popularization. He currently serves as Vice-chair of the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute.
Rob French -spends his days at the SETI Institute studying the origin and evolution of the rings and moons of the outer planets. With graduate degrees in both Astronomy and Computer Science and more than 20 years experience in commercial software development, he is especially interested in ways of automating the analysis of the terabytes of data returned by modern spacecraft. An avid speaker and educator, Robert never misses an opportunity to share his enthusiasm for space exploration with the general public.
Paul R. Frommer - The linguist who developed the Na’vi language for James Cameron’s film Avatar, is Professor Emeritus of Clinical Management Communication and former Director of the Center for Management Communication at USC’s Marshall School of Business. Prior to joining Marshall, he lived and taught in Malaysia and Iran and spent ten years in the business world as vice president and strategic planner for a Los Angeles corporation. His teaching at USC included courses in Advanced Writing for Business and Cross-cultural Business Communication for Non-native Speakers. Since the release of Avatar, Na’vi has attracted a worldwide community of enthusiasts who are assisting Dr. Frommer in expanding the language further. In addition to Na’vi, he also developed the Martian language for the Disney film John Carter. He is co-author, with Edward Finegan, of Looking at Languages: A Workbook in Elementary Linguistics. Buy Paul R. Frommer's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Danielle Futselaar - owner of ArtSource Graphic Design Studio in the Netherlands. Artist/Illustrator and Graphic Designer. Her clients include UNICEF, TNT and AS Watson. Danielle is also the SETI Institute’s TeamSETI Volunteer Captain of Creative Design where she has illustrated and created complete graphic design packages for fundraising campaigns and SETIcon II. She also created the official artist impression of Asteroid Minerva and its Two Moons discovered by SETI Institute’s Franck Marchis.
David Gaynes - is emerging as a unique voice in the world of independent documentary film. Saving Hubble (2012) is both a love letter to the world’s most famous telescope and the story of the grassroots movement that saved Hubble from an untimely death. The film is currently previewing around the country. A layman in the field of astronomy, David was inspired to explore the public's connection to space when he heard on the evening news that a necessary repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope had been canceled. David won the Jury Prize for best documentary at the Vail Film Festival with Keeper of the Kohn (2005), a portrait of Peter Kohn, a beloved autistic field manager for the Middlebury College lacrosse team, as he cared for his dying friend. The forthcoming Next Year In Jerusalem, David's third feature, tells the story of eight nursing home residents on a pilgrimage to Israel. David was the cinematographer for the award-winning documentary All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert (2011, Dir. Vivian Ducat). www.savinghubble.com
Kevin R. Grazier - Dr. Grazier was the scientific advisor for "Battlestar Galactica", "Eureka", and "The Event", and co-author of The Science of Battlestar Galactica—a book detailing the science both depicted and hinted at in the re-imagined series. For 15 years he was an Investigation Scientist on the Cassini/Huygens Mission to Saturn and Titan, and for his research performs large-scale long-term computer simulations of early Solar System dynamics and evolution. He is also the science advisor for "Falling Skies", this summer's movie "Gravity", SyFy Channel's upcoming epic series "Defiance," and just produced the sci-fi short "D.N.E.: Do Not Erase." Buy Kevin Grazier's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Alex Hall - now the Senior Director of the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE, a private race to the moon designed to enable commercial exploration of space while engaging the global public, Hall brings a wealth of experience in both the private and public sectors in USA and Europe to the X PRIZE Foundation. As the co-founder and former CEO of Airship Ventures, a company that uses airships for passenger flights, science research and media purposes, Hall is credited with breaking new ground in aviation by bringing Zeppelin airships back to the U.S. after 70 years. Prior to her position at Airship Ventures, Hall served as the Executive Director of the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, CA, where she managed fundraising efforts, developed exhibitions and led major programs with school district, university and agency partners. Hall has a degree in Astrophysics from the University of Leicester in United Kingdom and is regarded as a leader in bringing space and astronomy to the public, having authored several books for children and adults about space and hosted BBC Television's "Final Frontier."
Eric Hanson- A visual effects designer specializing in the creation of digital environments and effects for feature films, Eric Hanson has worked with noted visual effects houses such as Digital Domain, Sony Imageworks, Dream Quest Images, and Walt Disney Feature Animation. His credits include The Fifth Element (1997), Bicentennial Man (1999), Cast Away (2000), Hollow Man (2000), Mission to Mars (2000), Spider-Man (2002) and Atlantis as well as many special-venue films. Buy the SETIcon II Interview DVD
Gerry Harp - Trained as quantum mechanic, Gerry found the possibilities of using the multiple antennas of the Allen Telescope Array to generate beams on the sky – beams that could be far smaller than any single antenna could produce – remarkably exciting. Lured to the SETI Institute by this instrument’s intriguing possibilities, he’s undertaken many studies on beam formation (for SETI research). These include the Array’s ability to produce “negative” beams – useful for cancelling out, or “rejecting”, signals from such man-made noise makers as telecommunications satellites and the on-site, observatory computers.
Scott Hubbard - G. Scott Hubbard has over 25 years of experience making significant contributions to research, development and management of space science missions, with more than 10 of those years directly related to Mars missions. He has extensive experience as a project manager and technologist, with an outstanding record of success in formulating new concepts and developing bold space exploration initiatives.
Neil Jacobstein Jacobstein Co-chairs the AI and Robotics Track and is Director of Executive Academics at Singularity University, headquartered at the NASA Ames Research Park. The University’s mission is to assemble, educate, and inspire leaders to understand and facilitate the responsible development of exponentially advancing technologies in order to address humanity’s grand challenges. Jacobstein is a Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the Media X Program at Stanford University. He has served in a wide variety of executive and advisory roles for industry, nonprofit, and government organizations. He continues to give lectures, seminars, and workshops worldwide on the opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence and nanotechnology.
Mae Jemison - an American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first woman of color to travel in space when she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. She has appeared on television several times, including as an actor in an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. She is a dancer, and holds 9 honorary doctorates in science, engineering, letters, and the humanities. Mae and her team established the 100 Year Starship with the goal to make interstellar space travel a reality by 2112. Buy Mae Jemison's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Jon M. Jenkins - the Analysis Lead for Kepler, which means that he heads up a group of about two dozen scientists and programmers who designed and built the software that makes this dramatic search for other worlds possible. With a brightness precision of 20 parts per million, Kepler should be able to discover planets that are the same size as the rocky, inner orbs of our own solar system. By making an inventory of such worlds, Kepler will answer one of the most intriguing questions in astrobiology: are Earth-size planets abundant or rare?
Peter Jenniskens - If you ever spend a night under the stars watching for meteors and saw something unusual, you may want to meet astronomer Dr. Peter Jenniskens. He’s an expert on meteor showers and author of Meteor Showers and their Parent Comets, a 790 page book containing predictions on what unusual meteor showers to expect in the next 50 years. Peter is best known for his recovery of fragments of asteroid 2008 TC3 in the Nubian Desert of northern Sudan with Sudanese astronomer Muawia Shaddad and his students from the University of Khartoum. This was the first time that an asteroid was spotted in space, observed by telescopes, then samples retrieved for study.
Tom Jones - Thomas D. Jones, PhD is a planetary scientist, author, and veteran NASA astronaut. On the last of his four space shuttle missions, Dr. Jones led three spacewalks to install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny laboratory. His current interests include asteroid exploration, the use of space resources, and planetary defense. Buy Tom Jones' SETIcon II Interview DVD
David Knight Originally trained in Applied Physics, he has been an entrepreneur and investor in the high-technology world through multiple ventures. He was part of the original Ansari XPRIZE executive team, leading up to the successful prize-winning flights of Burt Rutan’s SPACESHIPONE in 2004. He is now pursuing a core mission of exciting our youth about Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics (STEM), through new and traditional media. His upcoming film, SHUTTLE3D & The New Pioneers, chronicles the final missions of the Space Shuttle program, and the hopeful future being led by technology visionaries via SpaceX, Stratolaunch, Blue Origin and more.
Pascal Lee- a Planetary Scientist at the SETI Institute. Dr. Lee’s research focuses on asteroids, impact craters, and Mars, in particular the history of water on Mars. Based on his fieldwork in Earth’s polar regions, Lee was first to propose the Cold Early Mars model which suggests, counter to conventional wisdom, that Mars was climatically cold throughout its history, rather than “warm and wet”. He also works on advancing the human exploration of Mars
Darlene S. Lim- research interests span both the Earth and Space Sciences. While her background is in Geobiology, Darlene has been parlaying her field research into helping the space exploration community develop the tools and operations concepts needed for humans to conduct science in the hostile environment of space. For the past 8 years, Darlene has been the Principal Investigator of the Pavilion Lake Research Project, which is a multi-disciplinary program anchored in both science and exploration research. She is also the Science Lead for the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) program, which is conducting science and operations research into understanding how to explore Near Earth Asteroids. Darlene is a DeepWorker submersible pilot, which she has been using to explore both lakes and marine environments.
Charles Lindsay - He photographs at the interface between nature and culture. It is his fascination with our relationship to the earth which connects all of his work - living with a rain forest tribe, traveling with turtle hunters, looking at his own experience of fly fishing or the culture of golf and it' s relationship to the natural world. His camera-less photographs and videos are a visual exploration of nature in an abstract sense, influenced by space and scientific imagery.
Rosaly Lopes - Dr. Rosaly M. C. Lopes is a Senior Research Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She is an expert on volcanoes on Earth and the planets and has worked on the NASA missions Galileo and Cassini. She has visited more than 50 active volcanoes all over the world and written more than 100 peer-reviewed publications. She enjoys bringing the excitement of her research to the general public via lectures, TV shows and books. Rosaly has obtained numerous awards for her work both in science and outreach. In 2005, she was awarded the Carl Sagan medal by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, in recognition of her success in communicating science to the general public. Buy the SETIcon II Interview DVD
Franck Marchis - Dr. Franck Marchis is a Planetary Astronomer at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute and also an associate astronomer at the Observatoire de Paris. Our solar system is characterized by considerable diversity of its constituent bodies. Franck Marchis’ first involvement in the study of this diversity started in 1996 while working at the UNAM Astronomy Department in Mexico City. He made the first ground-based observations of the volcanoes on the jovian moon Io, using the first Adaptive Optics (AO) systems available on the European Southern Observatory (ESO) 3.6 m telescope in Chile. After a brief stay in London and four years in Chile at ESO, he completed in 2000 his PhD in France. Since then, he has been studying asteroids with large telescopes and he discovered in 2005 the first triple using the Very Large Telescope in Chile. His work consists in using and developing adaptive optics on current and future 30m telescopes dedicated to the study of the solar system and extra solar planets.
Bill Nye - Bill Nye, scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life.
Oana Marcu - research interests include molecular adaptations of cells to extreme habitats on Earth, as analogs for Mars environments that could harbor life. Survival of life in deserts requires adaptation to desiccation, extreme temperatures and radiation, which limit the presence of life. For extremophiles, adaptation implies maintaining the structural and functional integrity of biomolecules (DNA, protein, lipids), which are otherwise damaged through oxidation.
Geoff Marcy - an astronomy professor at both UC Berkeley and at San Francisco State University. Together with his collaborators, he has discovered over 250 extrasolar planets. His research team discovered the first multiple planet system, the first Saturn-sized planet, and the first Neptune-size planet. He is a co-investigator with the NASA Kepler mission that recently announced 1230 exoplanets. His current research focuses on finding other Earth-size planets and solar systems similar to our own, and he is part of NASA’s Kepler telescope team.. Ongoing work is designed to study the sizes, occurrence frequency, chemical composition, and the orbits of Earth-size planets.
Leonard Mlodinow - Leonard Mlodinow received his PhD in theoretical physics from the University of California at Berkeley and now teaches at Caltech. He has written for numerous scientific journals, as well as for the popular press, including Nature, The New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of several best-sellers including The Drunkard’s Walk: how randomness rules our lives (2008), and The Grand Design (2010), co-authored with Stephen Hawking. His latest book is Subliminal: how your unconscious mind rules your behavior. In addition, he has written for television series such as MacGyver, and Star Trek: the Next Generation.
David Morrison - Dr. David Morrison is the Director of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. He is Past Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) and a senior scientist in Astrobiology at NASA Ames Research Center. Prior to this position, he served at NASA Ames as Director of Space and as the Chief of the Space Science Division, leading one of the premier science organizations at NASA consisting of space scientists undertaking basic research in astronomy, planetary science, and exobiology. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1969 and has published more than 160 technical papers and a dozen books.
Marc Okrand - devised the Vulcan dialogue heard in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and later developed the Klingon language and coached the actors using it in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He contributed Klingon dialogue to several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and the later Star Trek television series, and he created Romulan and Vulcan dialogue for the 2009 Star Trek film. Okrand is the author of three books about Klingon – The Klingon Dictionary (first published 1985), The Klingon Way (1996), and Klingon for the Galactic Traveler (1997). Buy Marc Okrand's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Cynthia Phillips - a planetary geologist at the SETI Institute with experience in processing spacecraft images of the planets, She is particularly interested in active geologic processes on such worlds as Mars, Europa, Io, and Enceladus. Cynthia has also co-authored twelve popular-level books, including Space Exploration for Dummies, and is a public speaker and blogger on the subjects of astrobiology, the outer Solar System, and space exploration. In addition to her scientific interests, Dr. Phillips also leads two undergraduate research programs at the SETI Institute - the REU program in the summer, and the URSA program during the academic year.
Robert Picardo - Robert Picardo is a graduate of Yale University and has been a well-known actor on stage, screen, and television for over 25 years. Mr. Picardo is recognized around the globe for his popular role as the Holographic Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager. He also starred as Commander Woolsey on Stargate Atlantis, making him the only actor to play regular roles on both of television’s most enduring science fiction franchises. He is also well known for his roles on China Beach and The Wonder Years (for which he received an Emmy nomination), not to mention countless guest star appearances on other shows. Mr. Picardo has appeared in over 30 feature films and played leading roles on Broadway, including the son of legendary Jack Lemmon in Bernard Slade’s Tribute. He has performed at many of Southern California’s leading theaters and has been nominated for an Ovation award. Buy Robert Picardo's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Richard Quinn - Is the surface of Mars really sterile, or could there be still-undiscovered traces of life littering this hostile landscape? Chemist Richard Quinn focuses on understanding the reactive processes that take place on the surface of the Red Planet, and how these might give a better idea of the potential for habitable environments. As the Viking landers found three decades ago, there is an abundance of complex, photochemically driven oxidative processes on Mars. These are comprised of atmosphere, dust, and soil interactions. Richard says that the key to understanding martian carbon chemistry is to unravel the dominant reaction mechanisms and kinetics of soil reactivity and organic compound decomposition.
Margaret S. Race - is concerned with protecting the planets. Actually, protecting all the planets: but especially Earth and Mars. Her work focuses on the scientific, technical, legal and societal issues of ensuring that missions to the Red Planet and other solar system bodies do not either inadvertently bring terrestrial microbes along, which would complicate our search for indigenous extraterrestrial life, or return any microbes to Earth. Recently, she’s done a research study on the environmental impact reviews and public communication associated with high-containment biosafety labs – the type that will eventually be used for the quarantine of returned samples from Mars. Buy How Would You Respond to a Martian Emergency? (Fireside Chat) on DVD
Richard Rhodes - the author or editor of twenty-four books including The Making of the Atomic Bomb, which won a Pulitzer Prize in Nonfiction, a National Book Award and a National Book Critics Circle Award; Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, which was shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize in History; and four novels. He has received numerous fellowships for research and writing, including grants from the Ford Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation Program in International Peace and Security and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard and MIT and a host and correspondent for documentaries on public television's Frontline and American Experience series. Buy Richard Rhodes' SETIcon II Interview on DVD
Bob Richards - is a space entrepreneur and futurist. He is a Co-Founder of the International Space University, Singularity University, SEDS, the Space Generation Foundation and Google Lunar X PRIZE competitors Odyssey Moon Ltd. and Moon Express, Inc., where he currently serves as CEO. As Director of the Optech Space Division from 2002-2009, Bob led the company's technology into orbit in 2004 and to the surface of Mars in 2007 aboard the NASA Phoenix Lander, making the first discovery of falling Martian snow. Bob studied aerospace and industrial engineering at Ryerson University; physics and astronomy at the University of Toronto; and space science at Cornell University where he became special assistant to Carl Sagan. Bob is an evangelist of the "NewSpace" movement and has been a catalyst for a number of commercial space ventures. Buy Bob Richards' SETIcon II Interview DVD
Jon Richards - works on the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) software and hardware control systems. This involves maintaining and improving the software that operates the 42 - 6 meter receiving dishes, maintaining and developing electronic controls, and developing/improving the software that analyzes the received data for signals. Jon is also working on the SETILive project, tying the data gathering and analysis system at the ATA to the cloud infrastructure.
Mary Roach - Mary Roach has written best-selling books about such things as dead bodies, sex labs, and life in space. Her work is distinctive and engaging. Her first book, Stiff, was an offshoot of a column she wrote for Salon.com. Her other books include Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. Though she mostly focuses on writing books, she also writes the occasional magazine piece. These have run in Outside, National Geographic, New Scientist, Wired, and The New York Times Magazine, as well as many others. A 1995 article of hers called "How to Win at Germ Warfare" was a National Magazine Award Finalist. Buy Mary Roach's SETIcon II Interview on DVD
Robert J. Sawyer - one of only eight writers in history to win all three of the science-fiction field’s top awards for best novel of the year: the Hugo, the Nebula, and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. He frequently writes about SETI, including in the Hugo Award finalists Rollback and Factoring Humanity. The ABC TV series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name. He has published in Science (guest editorial), Nature (fiction), and Sky & Telescope, was a participant in the workshop “The Future of Intelligence in the Cosmos” sponsored jointly by the NASA Ames Research Center and the SETI Institute, is a contributor to DARPA’s “100 Year Starship Project,” and was Guest of Honor at the first-contact conference CONTACT 4 Japan. Buy Robert J. Sawyer SETIcon II Interview DVD
Seth Shostak - Seth claims to have developed an interest in extraterrestrial life at the tender age of ten, when he first picked up a book about the solar system. This innocent beginning eventually led to a degree in radio astronomy, and now, as Senior Astronomer, Seth is an enthusiastic participant in the Institute’s SETI observing programs. He also heads up the International Academy of Astronautics’ SETI Permanent Committee. In addition, Seth is keen on outreach activities: interesting the public – and especially young people – in science in general, and astrobiology in particular. He’s co-authored a college textbook on astrobiology, and has written three trade books on SETI. In addition, he’s published more than 400 popular articles on science -- including regular contributions to both the Huffington Post and Discover Magazine blogs -- gives many dozens of talks annually, and is the host of the SETI Institute’s weekly science radio show, “Big Picture Science.”
Mark Showalter - Showalter is rabid about rings. While everyone knows about Saturn’s spectacular ring system, it’s often forgotten that Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune are also encircled by fainter and narrower rings. Each of these systems interacts closely with a family of small, inner moons. Showalter works on some of NASA’s highest-profile missions to the outer planets, including Cassini, now orbiting Saturn, and New Horizons, which flew past Jupiter en route to its 2015 encounter with Pluto. He has even searched for the rings of Mars, although so far with no success. Known for his persistence in planetary image analysis, Mark's work on the earlier Voyager mission led to his discovery of Jupiter’s faint, outer “gossamer” rings and Saturn’s tiny ring-moon, Pan.
Alan Stern - a planetary scientist, space program executive, aerospace consultant, and author. For the last three years, he’s been an Associate Vice President at the Southwest Research Institute, and since 2008 has had his own aerospace consulting practice. Alan was also recently appointed as Director of the Florida Space Institute. In 2007 and 2008, Alan served as NASA’s chief of all space and Earth science programs, directing a $4.4 billion organization with 93 separate flight missions and a program of over 3,000 research grants. He is currently training to fly a series of suborbital space research missions with Virgin Galactic and XCOR Aerospace in 2012-2013, and serves as the Chief Scientist and Mission Architect for the Moon Express Google Lunar X-Prize.
Martin Still - Kepler is NASA's Discovery mission to find Earth-sized, habitable exoplanets. The spacecraft, in an Earth-trailing orbit, yields 165,000 simultaneous light curves of Galactic and extra-Galactic sources over a 108 square degree field in the Cygnus-Lyra direction, with uninterrupted cadences of 1- and 30-minutes over a nominal mission lifetime of 3.5 years. The Kepler Guest Observer Office is tasked with maximizing the quality and depth of Kepler parallel science, exploiting the unique properties of this space-based telecope to impact multiple areas of astrophysics outside the core program of planet transits. Still began his role as Director of the Kepler Guest Observer Office in August 2009. His scientific interests lie in the study of accretion, compact binary stars, black hole physics, gamma-ray bursts and exoplanet detection and characterization.
David Summers - investigates a wide range of chemical reactions that are either needed for life to begin, that may affect whether life can exist, or that might be used by scientists to recognize life elsewhere. For example he is looking at the reactions of nitrogen in the atmosphere of ancient Mars. Where did it go? Could it have provided nitrogen for the start of life on Mars?
Frank Summers - Dr. Frank Summers is an Outreach Astrophysicist for the Hubble Space Telescope. While his job involves presenting the wonders of astronomy through news, media, web sites, educational programs, museums and more, his specialty is cinematic scientific visualizations of research data and supercomputer simulations. Dr. Summers is a writer, science advisor, and scientific visualization supervisor on the IMAX film "Hubble 3D". His work can also be seen in the Academy Award nominated IMAX film "Cosmic Voyage". In addition, he was a curator for the re-birth of New York's Hayden Planetarium in 2000, and his 24 lecture DVD course on the solar system is available as one of the "Great Courses" from the Teaching Company.
Jill Tarter - Jill directs the SETI Institute’s searches for intelligent life elsewhere, and is the holder of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI. She is one of the few researchers to have devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere, and led Project Phoenix, a decade-long SETI scrutiny of about 750 nearby star systems, using telescopes in Australia, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. She has also been the motive force behind the construction of the Allen Telescope Array, an instrument able to increase both the speed and the spectral search range of the Institute’s hunt for radio signals. There are few aspects of the modern SETI effort that have not been affected by Jill’s work. Buy Jill Tarter's SETIcon II Interview DVD
Margaret Turnbull- is an American astronomer. She received her PhD in Astronomy from the University of Arizona in 2004. Turnbull is an authority on "Habstars," solar twins and planetary habitability. In 2002, Turnbull developed the HabCat along with Jill Tarter, a catalog of potentially habitable stellar systems. The following year Turnbull went on to further identify 30 particularly suitable stars from the 5,000 in the HabCat list that are within 100 light years of Earth. In 2007, Turnbull was named a "Genius" by CNN for her work cataloging stars most likely to develop planets that could support life and intelligent civilizations.
Doug Vakoch - the director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute, as well as the only social scientist employed by a SETI organization. He investigates how one might craft messages that could be transmitted across interstellar space and could serve to permit communication between humans and extraterrestrials even without face-to-face contact. He is particularly interested in how we might compose messages that would begin to express what it’s like to be human.
Ariel Waldman - Ariel Waldman is the founder of Spacehack.org, a directory of ways to participate in space exploration, and the global coordinator of Science Hack Day, an event that brings together scientists, technologists, designers and people with good ideas to see what they can create in one weekend. She also is an interaction designer and Research Affiliate at Institute For The Future. Previously, she worked at NASA's CoLab program whose mission was to connect communities inside and outside NASA to collaborate. Her website is at http://arielwaldman.com.
Jack Welch - Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at UC Berkeley, his specialty areas are formation of stars, dark dust clouds, michelson interferometer array, and Allen telescope array. The ATA is located at the Hat Creek Observatory and is the development of a novel large centimeter wavelength radio telescope. This instrument, a joint project with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, will carry out sensitive studies of the ISM and the distant universe, as well as searches for technological evidence of complex life on other planets.
Dan Werthimer - is co-founder and chief scientist of the SETI@home project and directs other UC Berkeley SETI searches at radio, infrared and visible wavelengths, including the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations (SERENDIP). He is also the principal investigator for the worldwide Collaboration for Astronomy Signal Processing and Electronics Research (CASPER). Werthimer has taught courses at universities in Peru, Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Kenya. He has published numerous papers in the fields of SETI, radio astronomy, instrumentation and science education; he is co-author of "SETI 2020" and editor of "Astronomical and Biochemical Origins and the Search for Life in the Universe".