This is a listing under construction–more entries will be added as the participants are confirmed. Come back often to see who’s been added!
David Brin is a scientist, inventor, and New York Times bestselling author. With books translated into 25 languages, he has won multiple Hugo, Nebula, and other awards. A film was based on David’s novel The Postman. In EARTH and EXISTENCE he explores near future trends that may transform our world. With degrees from Caltech and the University of California-San Diego, Dr. Brin serves on advisory panels ranging from astronomy and NASA’s NIAC program to others dealing with artificial intelligence, nanotech, SETI, national defense, and technological ethics. As a speaker and on television, David Brin shares unique insights – serious and humorous – about ways that changing technology may affect our future lives.
Dr. Gerald B. Cleaver earned his Ph.D. in early universe cosmology and string theory at Caltech in 1993. Cleaver is Professor and Graduate Program Director of the Department of Physics at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He heads the Early Universe Cosmology and String Theory (EUCOS) Division of Baylor’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER). With CASPER colleagues Cleaver (i) explores quantum gravity effects in the early universe and the signatures of specific quantum gravity proposals, especially with regard to the cosmic microwave background (CMB), (ii) studies relativistic thermodynamics and physics & cosmology applications to cryptography, (iii) analyzes spacetime curvatures (and their possible divergences) for theorized spacetime wormholes, and (iv) investigates advanced spacecraft propulsion systems. Cleaver was a member of a NASA blue-ribbon review committee for advanced propulsion system proposals. He is on the international advisory board of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. Cleaver also enjoys writing about philosophical implications of a multiverse. Cleaver’s hobbies include SCUBA, small boat sailing, snow skiing, and Taekwondo.
Dr. Andrew Higgins is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. He has over 25 years of experience in shock wave experimentation and modelling, encompassing shock and detonation waves in gas-phase and condensed-phase materials, with applications to advanced aerospace propulsion, defense, and fusion energy. He serves as the Managing Editor of Shock Waves, An International Journal on Shock Waves, Detonations, and Explosions. His two most recent projects have been: (1) Developing a hypervelocity launcher to launch projectiles to world-record velocities (exceeding 12 km/s) for orbital debris impact testing and (2) a research collaboration with General Fusion Inc. (Burnaby, BC) applying the implosion of liquid cavities to magnetized target fusion. In 2018, while on sabbatical from McGill, he was a visiting scholar at UC Santa Barbara in the Experimental Cosmology Group, working on problems related to interstellar flight. Andrew Higgins has a PhD (’96) and MS (’93) in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a BS (’91) in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign.
Dr. Gerald Jackson received his doctorate in the field of accelerator physics from Cornell University, where he studied collisions between electrons and positrons. From 1985 until 2000 he was instrumental in improving the performance of the Fermilab proton-antiproton collider program through enhancements in the production, manipulation, and storage of antiprotons. Dr. Jackson was a leader in the design, construction, and commissioning of the innovative 2 – mile circumference antiproton Recycler ring, the last major particle physics accelerator built in the United States. Designed to increase Fermilab performance by 2.5X, the Recycler and other upgrades actually resulted in an increase of more than a factor of five. During his 14 years at Fermilab, he had been instrumentation department head, leader of Main Ring operations, and leader of many accelerator technology development projects. Since 2000 he has founded several companies, one working on antimatter propulsion problems for NASA and culminating in a 2016 crowdfunded study of antimatter production enhancements.
Dr. Geoffrey Landis was born in Detroit, Michigan. After going to college at MIT and graduating with degrees in Physics and Electrical Engineering, he worked in the Boston area for five years. After receiving his Ph.D. in physics from Brown University, Dr. Landis worked as a postdoctoral researcher at the NASA Lewis Research Center (now renamed NASA Glenn), then worked as a NASA contractor, and finally as senior scientist at the Ohio Aerospace Institute, before accepting his current job as a civil-service scientist in the Photovoltaics and Power Technology Branch at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, where he works on Mars exploration with the Mars Exploration Rovers. He currently lives Berea, Ohio with cats named Azrael and Tyrael, several teddy-bears, more books than you can count in a year, and no goldfish. He is married to science fiction writer Mary A. Turzillo.
Dr. Philip Lubin is a professor of Physics at UC Santa Barbara whose primary research has been focused on studies of the early universe in the millimeter wavelengths bands as well as applications of directed energy for planetary defense and relativistic propulsion. His group has designed, developed and fielded more than two dozen ground based and balloon borne missions and helped develop two major cosmology satellites. He is director of the NASA Starlight program, currently in a Phase II whose goal is to use directed energy for humanity’s first interstellar missions. He is also concept director for the Breakthrough Starshot program whose goals are also to achieve relativistic flight with miniature spacecraft . He is co-recipient of the 2006 Gruber Prize in Cosmology along with the COBE science team for their groundbreaking work in cosmology as well as the 2018 Gruber Prize in Cosmology along with the Planck science team for their determination of fundamental cosmological parameter.
Dr. Tracie Prater is an aerospace engineer in the Materials and Processes Laboratory at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, where she is currently supports technical integration activities for the in-space manufacturing (ISM) project. Using the International Space Station as a testbed, ISM is responsible for developing the manufacturing capabilities needed to produce parts on demand during long duration, crewed space exploration missions. She also serves as a subject matter expert for NASA’s Centennial Challenge on 3D Printing of Habitats, a public competition for additive manufacturing of structural habitats using recyclable materials and in situ resources (www.bradley.edu/challenge). She has a PhD in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University.
Kenneth Roy is a newly retired professional engineer who is currently living amidst the relics of the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. His professional career involved working for various Department of Energy (DOE) contractors in the fields of Fire Protection and Nuclear Safety during which time he maintained a DOE “Q” security clearance. Such contractors included Martin Marietta Energy Systems Inc, Lockheed Martin Corporation, Bechtel Jacobs Company, LLC, and Isotec Systems, LLC. Kenneth is a founding member of the not-for-profit corporation Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW Inc.) and remains active in that organization. He is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville in engineering. He enjoys reading science fiction, history, alternative history, military history, and books on space exploration and terraforming.
Dr. Raymond J. Sedwick is a Professor of Aerospace Engineering and Director of the Space Power and Propulsion Laboratory (SPPL) at the University of Maryland where he has been since Fall of 2007. He is recognized as a Keystone Professor within the A. James Clark School of Engineering and also directs both the Aerospace Engineering Honors Program and the Center for Orbital Debris Education and Research (CODER). Dr. Sedwick’s current research includes RF plasma generation of water vapor, decomposing nitrous oxide as a green propellent, ion plume and micrometeoroid material impact damage, orbital debris remediation, and novel fusion confinement for space and terrestrial power applications. His broader research interests include a variety of in-space power generation and propulsion technologies, with particular interest in nuclear systems and the applications of plasmas. He is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA, a former Associate Editor of the AIAA Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets (2010-2019), and served as the Chair of the AIAA Nuclear and Future Flight Technical Committee (2016-2018). Dr. Sedwick received a BS in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State University in 1992, and an MS and PhD from the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 1994 and 1997.
Dr. John Traphagan is Professor of Religious Studies and in the Program in Human Dimensions of Organizations and Mitsubishi Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. He also holds a visiting professorship at Waseda University in Tokyo, Japan. Traphagan received his BA in political science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, MAR in ethics from Yale University, and PhD in anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. He has also been a National Institutes on Aging postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan and a Fulbright Scholar to Japan. He has published more than 75 scientific papers as book chapters or in scholarly journals including: Alzheimer Disease and Associated Disorders, Research on Aging, Ethnology, the Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology, the Journal of Anthropological Research, the Journal of Ritual Studies, The Asian Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Asian Anthropology, the Journal of Intergenerational Relations, the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, the Brown Journal of World Affairs, Zygon: The Journal of Religion and Science, the International Journal of Astrobiology, and the Journal of Adult Development.
Dr. Deana L. Weibel is a Professor at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan, jointly appointed in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies (IRIS). While most of her early work focused on religious pilgrimage and sacred places (such as Rocamadour, France and Chimayó, New Mexico), current work examines the religious perspectives of people involved in space exploration. A recent sabbatical involved ethnographic fieldwork at the NASA Human Research Investigators Workshop, the Kennedy Space Center, the Mojave Air and Space Port, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Vatican Observatory. Weibel’s interview subjects have included engineers, astronauts, astronomers, test pilots and aerospace physicians, and her goal is to better understand how scientific and religious perspectives are separated and/or integrated among people whose work gives them expert knowledge about “the heavens”. Relevant publications include “Malinowski in Orbit: ‘Magical Thinking’ in Human Spaceflight” (with Glen E. Swanson), “Magnetism and Microwaves: Religion as Radiation,” “’Up in God’s Great Cathedral’: Evangelism, Astronauts, and the Seductiveness of Outer Space, ” and “Pennies from Heaven: Objects in the Use of Outer Space as Sacred Space.”
Toni Weisskopf is an American science fiction editor and the publisher of Baen Books. She is an alumna of Oberlin College, from which she graduated in 1987, and was immediately employed by Baen Books, where she served as executive editor until the death of founder Jim Baen in 2006, at which point she took over as publisher. She has edited a number of their anthologies under the name T.K.F. Weisskopf, and won the Phoenix Award in 1994 for excellence in science fiction, the Rebel Award in 2000 for lifetime achievement in Southern Science Fiction Fandom. Weisskopf was the editor guest of honor for the 2010 North American Science Fiction Convention, ReConStruction, and twice been nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Editor, Long Form.
Ken Wisian, Ph.D., Major General (retired), is Executive Director of the Disaster Research Program, Center for Space Research, University of Texas at Austin. He has published/presented work in subjects as diverse as geophysics, defense, artificial intelligence and deep space exploration, and developed executive courses in innovation and cyber warfare. Dr. Wisian holds a Ph.D. in geophysics from SMU, an M.S. in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College, an M.S. in Geology from Centenary College, and a B.A. in Physics from the University of Texas at Austin. General Wisian is also a graduate of the US Air Force Test Pilot School, with more than 70 hours of medium and high-risk test flights. He served in the Air Force and Air National Guard for 33 years and his commands included a C-130 Operations Group and an MQ-1 Predator Wing. General Wisian has combat time in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans. His combat medals include the Bronze Star and Air Medal.