Department News

Get to Know a Post-doc: Xi Zhang

Xi Zhang joined LPL in January 2013, working as a Bisgrove post-doctoral scholar on planetary atmospheres with Dr. Adam Showman. His research focuses on developing a fundamental understanding of the planetary climate system from observational, theoretical and modeling work.

Department News

Get to Know a Post-doc: Xi Zhang

Xi Zhang joined LPL in January 2013, working as a Bisgrove post-doctoral scholar on planetary atmospheres with Dr. Adam Showman. His research focuses on developing a fundamental understanding of the planetary climate system from observational, theoretical and modeling work. He has been involved in several projects on Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Titan, Neptune, extra-solar planets, brown dwarfs, as well as Earth. Xi’s work covers topics on atmospheric science, including fluid dynamics, spectroscopy, chemistry, cloud microphysics, and radiative transfer.

Xi is from Sichuan, China. He studied at Peking University, where he earned a B.S. in Space Physics (2007). Xi earned his Ph.D. in 2012 from California Institute of Technology with a thesis on aerosol and chemistry on planetary atmospheres in the solar system. Xi enjoys reading, swimming, and outdoor activities.

Meet LPL Staff: Ed Audi and Annie Wargetz

Ed Audi is a Staff Engineer with the Cassini VIMS team. His career at LPL began in 2013, but his journey to Tucson started in 1997, when he decided to leave the cold weather of his native Vermont and head west.

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Meet LPL Staff: Ed Audi and Annie Wargetz

Ed Audi is a Staff Engineer with the Cassini VIMS team. His career at LPL began in 2013, but his journey to Tucson started in 1997, when he decided to leave the cold weather of his native Vermont and head west. After working in the telecommunication industry for a time, Ed made his way to Tucson in 2001 to work at the University of Arizona (UA) as a telescope operator at the old 12-meter radio telescope on Kitt Peak. In 2003, he  migrated to a position with Pegasus Solutions, a Scottsdale software company, and then to graduate school at the University of Tulsa. But, he says, "I didn't want to leave Arizona and I always knew I'd come back!"

His journey back to Tucson would take nearly six years, during which he worked for the federal government in software development and network operations roles. "Eventually," says Ed, "I'd had enough of the East coast and decided to find my way back out west." He was hired by Tucson's Universal Avionics to maintain and enhance aircraft navigational database software. While this was a good opportunity and he was excited to be back in Arizona, Ed always had an interest in working in the space industry and so continued to look for openings at UA. We're glad that Ed eventually found a home at UA and LPL: "VIMS is a spectrometer, and I work with JPL to ensure that the instrument collects the data that our scientists require. It's a good role for me because it allows me to work with a spacecraft and also make use of my IT and software development experience."


Annie Wargetz joined the LPL family in January 2015 as the new Social Media Lead for the OSIRIS-REx mission. She is a member of the Communications and Public Engagement team and manages the social media presence for the mission. Annie is excited to be interacting with the OSIRIS-REx team and helping to tell the mission’s story. Prior to arriving in Tucson, Annie was a member of the Communications team for the Orion Program based at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and designed to serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities. She worked with program management, scientists, and engineers to learn about the spacecraft and its EFT-1 (Exploration Flight Test-1) mission, an uncrewed test flight that took place on December 5, 2014, sending Orion through the Van Allen belt twice, where it experienced high periods of radiation, reaching an altitude of 3,600 miles above Earth at speeds of 20,000 mph and weathering temperatures approaching 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit as it entered Earth’s atmosphere. Annie turned the knowledge into communications products, including lithographs, and interacted with the public at various events to get them excited about the spacecraft. Annie says she is honored to be a part of LPL and OSIRIS-REx mission.

Get to Know a Staff Scientist: Federico Fraschetti

Federico Fraschetti is an Associate Staff Scientist at LPL and Guest Lecturer/Faculty Affiliate Member of the Theoretical Astrophysics Program at the University of Arizona. He joined the department in 2009.

Department News

Get to Know a Staff Scientist: Federico Fraschetti

Federico Fraschetti is an Associate Staff Scientist at LPL and Guest Lecturer/Faculty Affiliate Member of the Theoretical Astrophysics Program at the University of Arizona. He joined the department in 2009. His research interests are in the origin of cosmic-rays, the particle acceleration/transport and the turbulence generation at shocks emitted in multi-scale explosive phenomena, as well as coronal mass ejections from the Sun, supernovae, and gamma-ray bursts (GRBs).

He earned his B.S. and M.S. (2001) in Italy at the University of Rome La Sapienza and his Ph.D. (2004) at the University of Rome La Sapienza/University of Trento. Federico's doctoral research was on the modeling of ultra-relativistic shocks of GRBs, the most powerful explosions in the Universe. For this work, he was awarded the Tacchini prize by SAIt (Italian Society for Astronomy).

Prior to joining LPL, Federico held a postdoctoral appointment at Brera Astronomical Observatory (Italy) with the Swift mission for GRBs, before moving on to work as a Postdoctoral Fellow at CEA/Saclay (France), where his research was on numerical simulations of cosmic-rays and convective instabilities at supernova remnant shocks.

In his free time, Federico enjoys swimming and tennis, playing the violin, and cooking. He also enjoys time with his wife, renaissance art historian Evgenia Diakonenko, and his two children.

2015 AP and Classified Staff Excellence Awards

Congratulations to Sarah Sutton, recipient of this year's LPL Appointed Personnel Staff Excellence Award, and to Eneida Guerra de Lima, recipient of the 2015 Classified Staff Excellence Award!

Department News

2015 AP and Classified Staff Excellence Awards

Congratulations to Sarah Sutton, recipient of this year's LPL Appointed Personnel Staff Excellence Award, and to Eneida Guerra de Lima, recipient of the 2015 Classified Staff Excellence Award!

Sarah Sutton is a Photogrammetry and Image Processing Scientist with the HiRISE project. She began working for Alfred McEwen as a student in 2006 and moved into a staff position in 2008. The group she leads, which includes 4 undergraduate students, produces digital terrain models (DTMs) from HiRISE, LROC, and CTX images. The nomination letters for Sarah cite many notable contributions, including:

  • development of methods to correct geometric distortions of images (produced by spacecraft pointing jitter), which not only improve DTMs and orthoimages, but are also valuable and applicable to other scientific studies and to certifying landing sites;
  • volunteering to support special studies, proposal preparation, and educational and outreach activities;
  • implementing innovations and automations that increase DTM production;
  • exceeding job expectations by providing service such as training LPL graduate students in production and analysis of DTMs.

Eneida Guerra de Lima joined LPL in October 2013 as an Information Technology Support Analyst, Principal, and immediately began making positive changes and contributions to LPL, improving the quality and effectiveness of IT services, identifying weaknesses and making recommendations and improvements. Eneida brought to LPL her expertise and previous experience with UA computing resources such as UAConnect and Outlook, and desktop support. Some specific examples of Eneida's superior performance include:

  • identifying weakness in data security for business operations, and making suggestions for updating and consolidated LPL services;
  • making time to multitask and resolve routine problems while carrying on other responsibilities of a more technical nature;
  • providing excellent customer support, being available, responsive, and communicative, providing follow-up service and detailed inquiry, with results that often apply to other users/areas;
  • taking on setup and networking of new copiers, including working with users to understand needs and working with the vendor to install and implement required software and networking, allowing the department to get full functionality from the machines;
  • advising and supporting academic AV enterprises, resulting in improvements to videoconferencing, and to classroom projection and computing.

Sarah and Eneida received their kudos at the LPL Spring Awards reception, held on April 22. Also acknowledged at the reception were Kenny Fine (Senior Systems Administrator with PIRL/HiRISE) and Maria Schuchardt (Program Coordinator, Senior with the Space Imagery Center). Kenny and Maria each received an Honorable Mention in the Appointed (Fine) and Classified (Schuchardt) categories; Maria is a previous recipient of the Staff Excellence Award (2005). As the classified staff recipient, Eneida's contributions were also acknowledged by Dean Joaquin Ruiz at the annual College of Science Staff Excellence Awards Luncheon held on April 15.

Congratulations Sarah and Eneida, and Kenny and Maria, and thank you for all you do!

Recent PTYS/LPL Graduates

Melissa Dykhuis
Catherine Elder

Department News

Recent PTYS/LPL Graduates

Melissa Dykhuis
Catherine Elder

 

 
Patrick Harner
Youngmin JeongAhn
 
Huan Meng
Rob Zellem

 

 

Congratulations to Melissa Dykhuis, Catherine Elder, Patrick Harner, Youngmin JeongAhn, Huan Meng, and Rob Zellem, LPL's most recent graduates!

On November 21, 2014, Huan Meng defended his Ph.D. dissertation titled, "Planet Formation in the Terrestrial Zone." Huan's advisor was Regents' Professor George Rieke. Huan Meng is currently a Postdoctoral Research Associate working with Professor Rieke at Steward Observatory.

Melissa Dykhuis defended her Ph.D. dissertation on March 13, 2015. Her advisor was Professor Richard Greenberg and her dissertation was titled, "Asteroid Family Dynamics in the Inner Main Belt."

Catherine Elder defended on April 7, 2015. The Ph.D. dissertation is titled, "The Effects of Melt on Impact Craters on Icy Satellites and on the Dynamics of Io's Interior." Catherine was advised by Professor Adam Showman. She is set to begin a Postdoctoral Fellowship with Dr. Paul Hayne at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Patrick Harner's defense of his M.S. thesis took place on May 5, 2015. The thesis is titled, "Carbonates and Other Salts in the Atacama Desert and on Mars, and the Implications for the Role of Life in Carbonate Formation." Partick's advisor was Regents' Professor Victor Baker.

Youngmin JeohngAhn defended on May 1, 2015. He was advised by Professor Renu Malhotra. His dissertation is titled, "Orbital Distribution of Minor Planets in the Inner Solar System and Their Impact Flux on the Moon, Earth and Mars."

Rob Zellem's defense of his dissertation titled, "Observing Transiting Exoplanets: Removing Systematic Errors to Constrain Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics" was on April 29, 2015. His advisor was Professor Caitlin Griffith. Rob is moving on to JPL as well, with a postdoctoral appointment with Dr. Mark Swain.

OSIRIS-REx Mural

The Michael J. Drake Building, home to the OSIRIS-REx mission, is the canvas for a colorful new mural celebrating that mission. The beautiful work of art is located on the building's west wall, just around the corner from the mural that commemorates the PHOENIX Mars Lander mission. The OSIRIS-REx mural was created by University of Arizona art students as part of a mural painting class taught by Professor Alfred Quiroz of the School of Art.

Department News

OSIRIS-REx Mural

The Michael J. Drake Building, home to the OSIRIS-REx mission, is the canvas for a colorful new mural celebrating that mission. The beautiful work of art is located on the building's west wall, just around the corner from the mural that commemorates the PHOENIX Mars Lander mission. The OSIRIS-REx mural was created by University of Arizona art students as part of a mural painting class taught by Professor Alfred Quiroz of the School of Art. The project was funded by the LPL External Advisory Board.

Learn more about the mural and watch a time lapse video of the painting process, see To an Asteroid and Back, All from the Parking Lot.

 

Bray Wins APAC Award

Associate Staff Scientist Veronica Bray Durfey was the recipient of a 2014/2015 Professional Development Scholarship from the University of Arizona Appointed Professionals Advisory Council (APAC). Veronica was one of nine awardees, out of more than 80 applicants.

Department News

Bray Wins APAC Award

Associate Staff Scientist Veronica Bray Durfey was the recipient of a 2014/2015 Professional Development Scholarship from the University of Arizona Appointed Professionals Advisory Council (APAC). Veronica was one of nine awardees, out of more than 80 applicants. The scholarship helped to fund travel to a New Horizons Mission meeting. Congratulations, Veronica!

 

Kathi Baker, 1955-2014

Longtime LPL staff member Kathi Baker passed away on November 8, 2014, after a battle with cancer. Kathi was originally from Yuma, but made her home in Tucson with her husband, Tom, and their 3 children, Mackinzie, Kyle, and Zachary. Zac also has roots in LPL, having worked as a courier for the Main Office and most recently as an Administrative Assistant in the Business Office.

Department News

Kathi Baker, 1955-2014

Longtime LPL staff member Kathi Baker passed away on November 8, 2014, after a battle with cancer. Kathi was originally from Yuma, but made her home in Tucson with her husband, Tom, and their 3 children, Mackinzie, Kyle, and Zachary. Zac also has roots in LPL, having worked as a courier for the Main Office and most recently as an Administrative Assistant in the Business Office.

Kathi began her career at LPL in 1998 as a Senior Accounting Assistant in the LPL Business Office. After a promotion to Accounting Specialist, she moved to support the LPL West Business Office in Gould-Simpson as an Accountant, Associate, in 2000. She started work with PIRL and HiRISE in 2003, and moved into the position of Administrative Associate in 2007. In 2012, Kathi accepted the position of Executive Assistant in support of the Department Head and Director, Professor Timothy Swindle.

Kathi was an active member of her faith community. She enjoyed singing and gardening, often bringing her sweet peas and snapdragons into the office when they were in bloom each spring.  Kathi was a much loved member of the LPL community and will be missed by all.

Desert Moon: A documentary about LPL's founding and early years

On June 27, LPL hosted the first viewing of the film "Desert Moon," a documentary about some of the ways that southern Arizona was involved with the early days of the lunar exploration program in the 1960s.  Naturally, a lot of it is about people who were at LPL at the time (e.g., Gerard P. Kuiper, Ewen A. Whitaker, Alan Binder, Charles Wood, Dale Cruikshank, William Hartmann). The film was produced by recent UA Journalism graduate Jason Davis as part of a NASA Arizona Space Grant graduate fellowship.

Department News

Desert Moon: A documentary about LPL's founding and early years

On June 27, LPL hosted the first viewing of the film "Desert Moon," a documentary about some of the ways that southern Arizona was involved with the early days of the lunar exploration program in the 1960s.  Naturally, a lot of it is about people who were at LPL at the time (e.g., Gerard P. Kuiper, Ewen A. Whitaker, Alan Binder, Charles Wood, Dale Cruikshank, William Hartmann). The film was produced by recent UA Journalism graduate Jason Davis as part of a NASA Arizona Space Grant graduate fellowship. Captain Mark Kelly, a former astronaut who was commander of the last Space Shuttle mission, is the film's narrator.

"Desert Moon" shows regularly at the Flandrau Planetarium on the UA campus. Visit the "Desert Moon" site to see the film trailer, read the "short stories," and access bonus scenes. Some of the story behind "Desert Moon" is also available from UA News.

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