Department News

Staff News and Updates

Phil Bloomenthal began work at LPL as a Systems Administrator on the OSIRIS-REx mission in January. Currently, his primary responsibilities include network security and maintenance of all Microsoft servers, mostly focusing on Active Directory and MS Exchange.

spring 2014 Department News

Staff News and Updates

Phil Bloomenthal began work at LPL as a Systems Administrator on the OSIRIS-REx mission in January. Currently, his primary responsibilities include network security and maintenance of all Microsoft servers, mostly focusing on Active Directory and MS Exchange. Prior to joining LPL, Phil spent six years as part of the staff of a local behavioral health organization, eventually taking over as IT Director in 2012.

Phil is originally from Ridgewood, N.J., but grew up in Tucson; he returned to Arizona in 2002 after studying creative writing and filmmaking at The New School for Social Research in New York City. In his free time, Phil enjoys writing and directing short films for children, wearing cardboard robot costumes to the Renaissance Faire and wrangling his two very active Queensland Heelers, Laika Eloise and Dalton Wade. His favorite food is boxed macaroni and cheese, but he tells people it's truffled risotto.


Amy Brenton joined LPL in March as Administrative Associate for Professor Timothy D. Swindle. Amy comes from the Flowing Wells School District where she spent 10 years, most recently at Walter Douglas Elementary working as an administrative assistant to the principal. Amy is an Arizona native, having spent most of her life in Tucson and southern Arizona. She spends most of her non work time keeping up with her husband, two kids, three dogs, and twelve chickens. Amy says she has had a great welcome from LPL and is very excited to be here.


Sue Robison is Business Manager for the HiRISE group. She started work at LPL in May 2012, but recently assumed duties performed by Senior Business Manager Linda Hickcox, who retired in February. Sue  began her career at the University of Arizona 20 years ago in the Department of Geosciences. She worked there as an Accountant and Accountant Senior for 5 years. Next she moved to a position in the College of Science Dean’s office to work with the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. She worked with the ambassador program, coordinated convocation and honors convocation, scholarships, advising and outreach activities.  Following this opportunity, Sue returned to Geosciences as a Project Manager for the RRUFF Project where she performed the business affairs, managed 25 undergraduate and graduate students, and worked with the scientists on a project to create a database of all the world’s minerals, so that they can be quickly identified by Raman Spectroscopy. At funding’s end, she moved to the Office of the Provost, as a Senior Program Coordinator, to work on the reaccreditation of the university, Bridging to the Future, NCA2010.  In addition, while in the Office of the Provost, she was the assistant to the Associate Provost of Faculty Affairs.

As much as Sue enjoyed her other positions, it is working on the business side of the University that she most enjoys. When a position opened in Planetary Sciences as a Business Manager, she decided to apply.  She enjoys learning and facing new challenges, and is so glad she made the change.  She is pleased to be back in a department that is part of the College of Science community, and working with the HiRISE and administrative teams in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

Major Support for LPL Field Trips from Laurel Wilkening

fall 2013 Department News

Major Support for LPL Field Trips from Laurel Wilkening

by Tim Swindle

Dr. Laurel Wilkening, a former LPL director, has made a bequest to LPL to fund the graduate student field trips for the long term. Laurel was one of the first faculty members hired when the Department of Planetary Sciences was formed in 1973. She was Department Head of Planetary Sciences and Director of LPL, from 1981 to 1983, then moved into the University of Arizona administration, eventually becoming the Vice President for Research. From UA, she moved to the University of Washington to become the Provost (chief academic officer), and later became Chancellor of the University of California at Irvine, before retiring to work with non-profit groups. While at UA, she was also instrumental in founding the Women's Studies program.

LPL has been having field trips to planetary analog sites since its inception. In the last three decades, Jay Melosh, Dave Kring, and Shane Byrne have all led many field trips, and several other members of the faculty have either led trips or assisted. The formal graduate student field trips have been ranked by alumni as one of the most important parts of their experience here, so as budget cuts came steadily in the last decade, LPL Director Mike Drake worked hard to find ways to continue to fund them. While we have established a less-than-ideal system that has provided some stability, Laurel's bequest means that the long-term future of the field trips is probably financially secure. In the (hopefully long) short term, we will continue to fund the field trips as we have for the last several years, and Laurel is helping us to have a trip further afield for next semester.

Laurel Wilkening (right), Martha Leake (left), and PTYS graduate students on a field trip in the Pinacates in the 1970s.

Dolores Hill Honored at White House

This June, Dolores Hill, co-lead of the OSIRIS-REx Target Asteroids! program, was honored as a White House Champion of Change for her "dedication to increasing public engagement in science and science literacy."

fall 2013 Department News

Dolores Hill Honored at White House

This June, Dolores Hill, co-lead of the OSIRIS-REx Target Asteroids! program, was honored as a White House Champion of Change for her "dedication to increasing public engagement in science and science literacy." Through her work at LPL, Dolores, a senior research specialist, has been sharing her love of science (and especially meteorites) for 32 years.

Take a moment to read more about Dolores and her outstanding work promoting citizen science:

Kuiper Papers Indexed Online

The papers of LPL's founder, Dr. Gerard P. Kuiper, have been indexed online by the University of Arizona Special Collections Library. The index is available at:

http://speccoll.library.arizona.edu/collections/gerard-p-kuiper-papers

fall 2013 Department News

Kuiper Papers Indexed Online

The papers of LPL's founder, Dr. Gerard P. Kuiper, have been indexed online by the University of Arizona Special Collections Library. The index is available at:

http://speccoll.library.arizona.edu/collections/gerard-p-kuiper-papers

This finding aid is an excellent resource for scientists and historians and provides fascinating insight into the life and career of one of the pioneers of planetary science.

 

Two New Associate Professors Join LPL

LPL is excited to welcome two new faculty members starting Fall 2013—Drs. Travis Barman and Walt Harris both joined the LPL faculty as associate professors. Travis and Walt bring diverse and unique strengths to LPL and we look forward to many productive collaborations.

fall 2013 Department News

Two New Associate Professors Join LPL

LPL is excited to welcome two new faculty members starting Fall 2013—Drs. Travis Barman and Walt Harris both joined the LPL faculty as associate professors. Travis and Walt bring diverse and unique strengths to LPL and we look forward to many productive collaborations.


Travis Barman moved to Tucson from Flagstaff, where he worked as an astronomer at Lowell Observatory for seven years. Prior to Lowell, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at Wichita State University. Travis received his Ph.D. at the University of Georgia. Travis’ research primarily involves numerical modeling of exoplanet atmospheres. These models guide a number of observational programs to study various classes of exoplanets, from super-Earths to massive young planets. By comparing theoretical model spectra to real photometric and spectroscopic observations, a variety of planet properties can be deduced. Atmospheric structure (horizontal and vertical run of temperature and pressure), surface gravities, chemical composition, and global wind patterns are a few examples of the kinds of planet properties we seek through model observation comparisons. Travis is also heavily involved in a ground-based survey to directly image young exoplanets using the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI). GPI is an extreme adaptive optics instrument being commissioned on Gemini-South this fall and, over the next several years, will be used to discover many young planetary systems. These discoveries will reveal new insights into planet evolution.


Walt Harris is an experimental planetary scientist with an interest in comets and the intersection between the space environment and the atmospheres of the planets and their satellites. He comes to LPL after serving for the past 6 years on the faculty of the University of California, Davis. Walt began his career at the Space Physics Research Lab at the University of Michigan where he earned his Ph.D. constructing and flying sounding rocket borne ultraviolet spectrometer to study the Jovian aurora. After graduating, he moved to the University of Wisconsin Space Astronomy Lab to work with the ultraviolet polarization group on a series of sounding rocket experiments, including two flights as principle investigator. While at Wisconsin, his research focus shifted toward ground and space based observations of comet atmospheres, and he began a collaboration with the space physics interferometry group centered on the development of all-reflective spatial heterodyne spectrometers. These areas now reflect the core of his research. Walt's interest in comets is centered on the photochemical evolution of volatiles liberated from the nucleus with an emphasis on identifying compositional variations with time and active region. He uses a combination of existing custom-built instruments for these studies. He also has active programs to develop heterodyne spectrometers, which are compact remote sensors capable of delivering wide field high resolution spectroscopy of extended objects, for use at ground based telescopes and a variety space platforms. His current projects in this area include a prototype broadband instrument under construction at the Lick Observatory and an ultraviolet sounding rocket experiment to study the interplanetary medium.

LPL Welcomes Seven New Graduate Students

Patrick Harner; M.A. in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Weslayan; B.A. in History, College of William and Mary; interests in remote sensing and geochemistry.

fall 2013 Department News

LPL Welcomes Seven New Graduate Students

Patrick Harner; M.A. in Earth and Environmental Sciences, Weslayan; B.A. in History, College of William and Mary; interests in remote sensing and geochemistry.

Tad Komacek; B.S. in Geophysical Sciences, B.A. in Physics (Astrophysics), University of Chicago; interests in planetary formation and evolution, extrasolar dynamics.

Margaret LandisB.S. in Physics and Astronomy, Northern Arizona University; interests in impact cratering, disks, solar system formation.

Sarah PeacockB.A. in Astronomy-Physics, University of Virginia; interests in exoplanet atmospheres and astrobiology.

Molly SimonB.S. in Geophysical Science, University of Chicago; interests in planet formation, extrasolar planets.

Xianyu Tan; M.Phil of Planetary Science, University of Hong Kong; B.S. in Geophysics, University of Science and Technology of China; interests in planetary dynamics, exoplanets, Kuiper Belt.

Hannah TanquaryB.S. in Physics (Astronomy) and Computational Physics, Eastern Illinois University; interests in exoplanets, minor planets, asteroids.

Get to Know a Post-Doc: Julia Bodnarik

Julia Bodnarik joined LPL in February 2013. She works with Dr.

fall 2013 Department News

Get to Know a Post-Doc: Julia Bodnarik

Julia Bodnarik joined LPL in February 2013. She works with Dr. William Boynton, mapping epithermal neutron count rates from the Lunar Exploration Neutron Detectors on board NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to understand hydrogen migration on the Moon. Julia earned her Ph.D. in 2013 from Vanderbilt University conducting research as a Cooperative Education Graduate Student and Civil Servant at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (NASA GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland. She worked on the research and development of neutron/gamma-ray instrumentation for space-based lander and rover applications to differentiate between bulk elemental compositions of different asteroid types, in particular C-type asteroids, under the mentorship and guidance of a team of advisers including Dr. Ann Parsons (NASA GSFC), Dr. Jeff Schweitzer (University of Connecticut), Dr. Jason Dworkin (NASA GSFC), Dr. Keivan Stassun (Vanderbilt University), and Dr. Arnold Burger (Fisk University). The instrument uses a 14-MeV pulsed neutron generator, to probe the subsurface regolith over a meter radius and down to depths of 1 meter, and neutron and gamma-ray detectors, to discern the in situ bulk elemental composition of the subsurface regolith. She conducted her instrumentation experiments at a unique outdoor neutron and gamma-ray test facility that she created and developed with collaborators at NASA GSFC. 

Julia is originally from Warner, New Hampshire. She earned a M.A. in Physics from Fisk University and a B.S. in Physics from Wichita State University.  Her M.S. research involved astrophysics modeling and research and development of a hand-held sized X-Ray diffraction and X-ray flourescence instrument under the guidance of Dr. Keith Gendreau, Dr. Zaven Arzoumanian and Dr. Vanderlei Martins at NASA/GSFC.  Before entering the research world of planetary science, Julia worked as a telescope operator and systems support associate on Mauna Kea in Hawaii for both the Smithsonian Sub-millimeter Array and the Gemini North observatories.

When she's not at LPL, Julia enjoys painting, outdoor activities, reading and dancing.

Get to Know a Post-Doc: Matt Chojnacki

Matthew Chojnacki joined LPL in January 2013, working as a post-doctoral fellow for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's (MRO) High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) with that cam

fall 2013 Department News

Get to Know a Post-Doc: Matt Chojnacki

Matthew Chojnacki joined LPL in January 2013, working as a post-doctoral fellow for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's (MRO) High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) with that camera’s Principle Investigator Alfred McEwen. There he has been working on projects involving the geologic, morphologic, and climatic evolutions of Mars. Specifically, quantify and characterizing contemporary aqueous and aeolian transport on the Martian surface as detected with paired HiRISE images.  Additionally, he works with HiRISE targeting specialists in imaging sites of geologic interest to maximize the science return of the MRO mission. Matt also participates with two other NASA spacecraft instrument teams, with the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) onboard Mars Odyssey (MO) satellite and Panoramic Camera (Pancam) onboard the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER).

Originally from Colorado, Matt grew up in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, where he was introduced to geology and snow skiing. Prior to graduate school, Matt held a successful career on the United States Ski Team, where he competed in the acrobatic discipline of freestyle aerial ski jumping. He traveled the world participating in three World Championships, one Olympics, and collected multiple National and International titles including a Guinness World Record for difficulty. Matt received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in Planetary Geology from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 2013.

Steve Kortenkamp is Teaching Teams Program Coordinator

Dr. Steve Kortenkamp has become the new Coordinator of the Teaching Teams Program (TTP).

fall 2013 Department News

Steve Kortenkamp is Teaching Teams Program Coordinator

Dr. Steve Kortenkamp has become the new Coordinator of the Teaching Teams Program (TTP). TTP, which is best-known for its support for preceptors in undergraduate classes, was originally developed by Professor Hal Larson. In recent years, Natalia deRoock has served as the coordinator, but Natalia is moving on to join her husband Roberto (who has also worked for TTP), who accepted a position at Arizona State University.

Steve has taught General Education courses in LPL for several years, and was the 2011 winner of the College of Science award for Innovation in Teaching. He has been working as Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute, doing research on orbital dynamics and developing K-12 outreach programs. In addition, Steve is the author of more than a dozen children’s books about space and space science.

We welcome Steve to his expanded role at LPL!

New Member of Kuiper SYS Team

Eneida Lima recently joined LPL as an IT Support Analyst, Principal. She comes to LPL from the UA Department of Computer Science, where she worked for four years; her responsibilities included instructional labs, desktops, and servers. She also led the migration of most of the department’s infrastructure servers to a virtual environment.

fall 2013 Department News

New Member of Kuiper SYS Team

Eneida Lima recently joined LPL as an IT Support Analyst, Principal. She comes to LPL from the UA Department of Computer Science, where she worked for four years; her responsibilities included instructional labs, desktops, and servers. She also led the migration of most of the department’s infrastructure servers to a virtual environment. Before moving to Computer Science, Eneida worked for nine years for the Department of Geosciences. There, she wore many hats, being responsible for most of the department’s IT needs. Eneida is a native of Brazil and immigrated to the U.S. 15 years ago. Eneida says that she is looking forward to working with us and she reports that she has had a great welcome from our community.

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