Department News

Get to Know a Post-doc: Justin Erwin

Justin Erwin joined LPL in May 2013, working as a post-doctoral fellow on the aeronomy of solar and extra-solar planets with Dr. Roger Yelle.

Department News

Get to Know a Post-doc: Justin Erwin

Justin Erwin joined LPL in May 2013, working as a post-doctoral fellow on the aeronomy of solar and extra-solar planets with Dr. Roger Yelle. His research focuses on the influence of close-in orbits on the escape of hydrogen from extrasolar gas giants. In particular, his research is focused on the enhancement of kinetic escape due to the 3D gravitational and non-inertial forces, and the non-thermal escape due to various stellar interactions. He also studies non-LTE radiative transfer in the atmospheres planets in our own solar system.

Justin is from Redding, Connecticut. He studied at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (New Mexico Tech), where he earned a B.S. in Mathematics (2006), a B.S. in Physics (2006), and a M.S. in Applied Mathematics (2008) with a thesis on control theory. Justin earned his Ph.D. in 2013 from the University of Virginia, conducting research on the atmosphere of Pluto and developing a radiative-conductive-escape atmospheric model. In his free time, Justin enjoys biking, cooking, and enjoying the weather outdoors in the southwest.

Meet LPL Staff: Ron Richards and Vicki Robles de Serino

Ron Richards joined LPL as an Administrative Associate with the OSIRIS-REx project in April 2014. He recently returned to the University of Arizona after a six-year whirlwind employment tour of some of the other institutions of higher learning in the U.S.

Department News

Meet LPL Staff: Ron Richards and Vicki Robles de Serino

Ron Richards joined LPL as an Administrative Associate with the OSIRIS-REx project in April 2014. He recently returned to the University of Arizona after a six-year whirlwind employment tour of some of the other institutions of higher learning in the U.S. (University of South Florida, Nevada State College, and Southern Oregon University). Ron is currently Facilities Manager for the Michael J. Drake Building (home of the OSIRIS-REx project); his previous UA positions included Information Specialist for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Office Assistant, Senior, in the Office of Career Services. He is "delighted to have been given the opportunity to work with OSIRIS-REx, and with the chance to return to Tucson."


Vicki Robles de Serino began her career at LPL in January 2014. She is an Administrative Assistant supporting several research groups in the Kuiper building. Before coming to LPL, Vicki worked at UApresents for more than 6 years in various roles, beginning as a part-time Receptionist and transitioning to a Development Assistant and Administrative Assistant. She assisted the Executive Director, planned donor-related events, administered donations, helped with processing day-to-day financial transactions, and assisted with hiring as needed. When she's not at work supporting successful research endeavors, Vicki says she loves spending time with her family and enjoying her hobbies: reading, running, and photography.

Undergraduate PTYS Minor: Nathanial Hendler

Nathanial Hendler is an undergraduate minor in the Department of Planetary Sciences. Before beginning his studies at the UA, Nathanial worked for over ten years as a software developer (most recently as a game developer for Sony). He then took a job at Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole for one season.

Department News

Undergraduate PTYS Minor: Nathanial Hendler

Nathanial Hendler is an undergraduate minor in the Department of Planetary Sciences. Before beginning his studies at the UA, Nathanial worked for over ten years as a software developer (most recently as a game developer for Sony). He then took a job at Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole for one season. That experience motivated him to pursue an undergraduate degree (beginning with coursework at Pima Community College) with a major in geology and a minor in planetary science and mathematics. Nathanial has been assisting Dr. Ilaria Pascucci with research involving protoplanetary disk dispersal; next semester, he'll work with her to investigate the disk mass stellar mass relation using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array.  Nathanial has been involved with other science projects, including the fabrication and spectroscopy of ice dwarf analogue ices at Northern Arizona University, OSIRIS-REx stereophotoclinometry software maintenance through NASA Space Grant, paleoseismology field-work in Southern California, and Salt River Canyon detrital zircon dating. After graduation, Nathanial hopes to pursue a career in academic research.

When he's not working on his academic and research pursuits, Nathanial is busy with his many extracurricular hobbies and interests, which include baking bread and repairing radios, TVs, and vintage computers. He admits to having authored the only Macintosh System 6/7 Twitter client and part of his personal insect collection is on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Nathanial has played guitar and sung with several local bands: "The George Squier Orchestra often drew crowds of 8 or more people, and was named one of Tucson's best new bands by the Tucson Weekly while our debut album received an “Album of the Year” pick from the legendary Al Perry."  Nathanial also spends time outdoors and "derives great pleasure from traveling the world with my wife and from exploring Arizona's bounty of geology in my Suzuki Samurai."

Dr. Gilda Ballester named Senior Research Scientist

Department News

Dr. Gilda Ballester named Senior Research Scientist

Dr. Gilda Ballester has been named a Senior Research Scientist in the Department of Planetary Sciences/Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Gilda has been an Associate Staff Scientist at LPL since 2000. Before coming to Tucson, she conducted her research at the University of Michigan as an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Sciences, Space Physics Research Laboratory. Gilda earned her Ph.D. in Physics (Astronomy minor) at Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests include characterization of exoplanets with transit observations at UV, optical and near-IR wavelengths with the Hubble Space Telescope and through collaborative ground-based observations. This research focuses on the properties of both the upper and lower atmospheres of hot Jupiters and low-density super Earths, and of magnetospheric interactions on these exoplanets. Her early research interests included Io’s atmosphere and plasma torus, and on the upper atmospheres, auroras and magnetospheric interactions of Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus with both imaging and spectroscopy.

 

 

Welcome, Christopher Hamilton!

Dr. Christopher Hamilton joined LPL this spring as an Assistant Professor. Christopher is a planetary volcanologist with an interest in field-based analogs for geologic surface processes on terrestrial planets and satellites.

Department News

Welcome, Christopher Hamilton!

Dr. Christopher Hamilton joined LPL this spring as an Assistant Professor. Christopher is a planetary volcanologist with an interest in field-based analogs for geologic surface processes on terrestrial planets and satellites. He comes to LPL after three years at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center's Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory where he worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow investigating active lava flow emplacement in Hawaii, flood lava volcanism on Mars, and tidal heating processes within Jupiter's moon Io. He earned his Ph.D. in Geology and Geophysics at the University of Hawaii researching lava–water interactions on Earth and Mars, with a focus on ice-contact volcanism in Iceland. He has also worked on volcanically triggered floods in New Zealand, volcanic successions in the Canadian Arctic, and impacts into volatile-bearing martian substrates. Christopher's research employs a combination of field observations, planetary mapping, geospatial analysis, and thermodynamic modeling. At LPL, he will continue to develop these research themes to study volcanism and aqueous floods on Earth and Mars, as well as explore new opportunities in terrestrial analog studies using unmanned aerial vehicles, machine learning systems, and industrial-scale simulation of lava and impact melt flows using metallurgical smelting techniques.

OSIRIS-REx Passes Critical Design Review

The OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, under the direction of Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta, continues to make steady progress. On December 9, the public countdown clocks for the mission were turned on. On that day, the time until the start of the September 2016 launch window dropped to 999 days, and the countdown began.

Department News

OSIRIS-REx Passes Critical Design Review

The OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, under the direction of Principal Investigator Dante Lauretta, continues to make steady progress. On December 9, the public countdown clocks for the mission were turned on. On that day, the time until the start of the September 2016 launch window dropped to 999 days, and the countdown began.

In early April, the mission passed its Critical Design Review (CDR), a major milestone for a spacecraft program: OSIRIS REx Closer to Probing the Universe.

OSIRIS-REx is scheduled to bring back at least 60 grams of material from the primitive asteroid Bennu in 2023.

Get to Know a Post-Doc: Elisabetta Rigliaco

Elisabetta Rigliaco joined LPL in September 2011, working as a post-doctoral fellow on the evolution and dispersal of protoplanetary disks around young stars with Dr. Ilaria Pascucci.

Department News

Get to Know a Post-Doc: Elisabetta Rigliaco

Elisabetta Rigliaco joined LPL in September 2011, working as a post-doctoral fellow on the evolution and dispersal of protoplanetary disks around young stars with Dr. Ilaria Pascucci. Her current research primarily focuses on understanding how protoplanetary disks evolve and disperse, leading to the formation of planets. In particular she focuses on the observational analysis of the mechanisms involved in the dispersion of protoplanetary disks around young stars.

Elisabetta is from southern Italy. She studied at the University of Bologna where she earned a B.S. in Astronomy, and a M.S. in Astrophysics and Cosmology (2007) with a thesis on radio-galaxies. Elisabetta earned her Ph.D. in 2011 from the University of Florence conducting research on accretion and ejection properties of young low-mass stars. In her spare time, Elisabetta enjoys running, cooking and spending time with friends.

Get to Know a Staff Scientist: Eric Christensen

Staff Scientist Eric Christensen is Director of the Catalina Sky Survey for near-Earth objects. He returned to LPL in 2012 after a 5-year stay in Chile at the Gemini South Observatory, where he was part of the science operations group responsible for daytime and nighttime operations of the telescope and instruments.

Department News

Get to Know a Staff Scientist: Eric Christensen

Staff Scientist Eric Christensen is Director of the Catalina Sky Survey for near-Earth objects. He returned to LPL in 2012 after a 5-year stay in Chile at the Gemini South Observatory, where he was part of the science operations group responsible for daytime and nighttime operations of the telescope and instruments. Prior to moving to Chile, he worked as an observer and software developer for CSS for four years. In addition to near-Earth asteroid discovery and follow-up, Eric's interests include survey modeling and optimization, observatory operations, instrument commissioning, and efficient software design. He found many similarities between asteroid surveying and meteorite hunting during multiple expeditions to the Atacama Desert, which resulted in the recovery of several achondrites and carbonaceous chondrites, as well as many ordinary chondrites. Eric holds a BFA from the University of Arizona, with a concentration in ceramic sculpture.

Tucson Festival of Books 2014

The UA Campus played host again this spring to the annual Tucson Festival of Books. This year's event, the sixth annual festival, was held March 15-16, 2014. The Tucson Festival of Books is free and open to the public. It has become one of the most anticipated and well attended book fairs in the U.S., attracting approximately 100,000 attendees, 450 authors, and 300 exhibitors.

Department News

Tucson Festival of Books 2014

The UA Campus played host again this spring to the annual Tucson Festival of Books. This year's event, the sixth annual festival, was held March 15-16, 2014. The Tucson Festival of Books is free and open to the public. It has become one of the most anticipated and well attended book fairs in the U.S., attracting approximately 100,000 attendees, 450 authors, and 300 exhibitors.

LPL faculty, staff, and graduate students participated in the festival as part of the UA ScienceCity Science of Tomorrow Tent, which was this year located on the UA mall directly in front of the Meinel Optical Sciences building. LPL was well represented by students, faculty, and staff. Highlights of the LPL events included:

  • OSIRIS-REx staff and ambassadors describing the mission and signing visitors up to send their names to Bennu;
  • LPL graduate students educating the crowd about exoplanets;
  • Dr. Steve Kortenkamp and preceptors from Teaching Teams creating comets, exhibiting meteorites, and discussing the properties of light;
  • LPL Research Specialist Senior Dolores Hill talking meteorites.

In addition to these hands-on activities, Associate Professor Travis Barman spoke on "Capturing Images of Planets that Orbit Distant Stars" as part of Science Café.

As if all this science weren't exciting enough, the Kuiper Space Sciences building was invaded by Martians! That's right...two Martians stepped off the pages of writer Ray Bradbury's science fiction and into the Kuiper Building. Martian tourists Mr. K. and his wife Ylla acted as the MCs of the book launch for Orbiting Ray Bradbury's Mars (edited by Gloria McMillan), which was held in Kuiper 308 on Saturday, March 15. The Martians were ably played by local college student actors Rainey Hinrichs and John Noble. Mr. K and LPL Professor Emeritus Peter Smith got into a bit of a row when Mr. K. asked Smith if he had filed for a Martian parking permit before landing his Phoenix Mars Lander in their Mayor Ingo Nup's "back forty" acres on Mars. The audience laughed as Smith sighed, "Has it come to this?"

Orbiting Ray Bradbury's Mars is a unique volume that has space scientists and literary and film scholars writing about Bradbury's fiction, especially Bradbury's The Martian ChroniclesDr. Peter Smith contributed a Foreword in which he explains how Bradbury's fiction helped him to envision a career in astronomy. Kuiper Circle Chair and retired aerospace engineer David Acklam traced his memories of Bradbury's fictional Mars and made engaging connections with the real world of space missions.  NASA scientists from Smith's Phoenix Mars Lander Mission also wrote about the fictional vs real Mars. LPL alumnus Dr. William K. Hartmann played a role in creating the book and its artwork.

Whether outside on the UA Mall or inside the Kuiper auditorium, visitors to the 2014 Festival of Books were treated to an educational weekend of art and science!

LPL graduate student Tiffany Kataria demonstrates spectra of various light sources.

Dolores Hill brought her meteorites.

LPL graduate students Patrick Harner and Rob Zellem taking a break from the action.

Kelli Kostizak (Teaching Teams) is ready to discuss the properties of light.

Martian tourists surprised to find a globe of the home planet.

Dr. Steve Kortenkamp (Teaching Teams) came prepared with a sample comet.

G. Bliss and Brenda Huettner collect messages to Bennu.

Associate Professor Travis Barman lectured at Science Café

OSIRIS-REx Ambassador Al Anzaldua describes a model of Bennu.

Book editor Gloria McMillan with visitors.

Put him in, coach!

What could make Opening Day at an Arizona Diamondbacks game even better? That would be catching a foul ball and making it look easy! Nice job, Professor Swindle!

But wait...lightning strikes twice! There is no video confirmation, but reports indicate that Tim Swindle caught a second line-drive foul ball at the Arizona Diamondbacks game on Sunday, April 13. Good to know that our Head and Director might have an alternate career path in case of a bad funding year.

Department News

Put him in, coach!

What could make Opening Day at an Arizona Diamondbacks game even better? That would be catching a foul ball and making it look easy! Nice job, Professor Swindle!

But wait...lightning strikes twice! There is no video confirmation, but reports indicate that Tim Swindle caught a second line-drive foul ball at the Arizona Diamondbacks game on Sunday, April 13. Good to know that our Head and Director might have an alternate career path in case of a bad funding year.

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