Scientia: Speaker Profiles
Space Exploration and Human Imagination: Space Futures
Cindy Evans is a scientist and Deputy Manager in JSC’s Astromaterials Acquisition Curation Office, and the International Space Station Associate Program Scientist for Earth Observations. In these roles, Evans brings more than 20 years experience supporting science activities for human spaceflight operations, including training astronauts in Earth Observations and geology, managing the Image Science & Analysis Lab after the Columbia accident and during the first years of return to flight, leading Earth Observation activities from the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station, and defining and leading the NASA-Mir Crew Earth Observations program. Evans has worked extensively with astronaut crews and mission operations teams to develop and implement science requirements, including crew training, mission planning, data evaluation and database sharing. Her recent research has included remote sensing studies using imagery collected from spaceflight missions. As the PI for the GeoLab project – a habitat-based prototype laboratory facility for examining geological samples, Evans also performs research on science operations and prototype hardware supporting geoscience exploration activities. She has participated in NASA’s analog activities to test the GeoLab hardware and perform science operations that simulate the collection of geological materials from other planetary surfaces and preserve them for detailed study on Earth. Evans has also participated in several field and ship-based campaigns studying rocks from ocean basin environments.
Patrick McCray is a professor in the Department of History at UCSB where he researches and teaches about science and technology after 1945. Before coming to UCSB, McCray worked at the Center for History of Physics at the American Institute of Physics. He received his Ph.D. in 1996 and is the author of numerous publications and books on the history of science and technology including Giant Telescopes: Astronomical Ambition and the Promise of Technology (Harvard, 2004), Keep Watching the Skies: The Story of Operation Moonwatch and the Dan of the Space Age (Princeton, 2008), and The Visioneers: How a Group of Elite Scientists Pursued Space Colonies, Nanotechnologies, and a Limitless Future (2012).
Laurie Leshin serves as Dean of the School of Science and Professor of Earth & Environmental Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she leads the scientific academic and research enterprise at the oldest technological University in the United States. With a long tradition of collaboration spanning fundamental science to high value applications, Rensselaer is a true pioneer in interdisciplinary and translational research in Biotechnology, Nanoscience, Energy, Data Science, and Astrobiology. Prior to coming to Rensselaer, Leshin spent six years as a senior executive at NASA, where she worked in both the science and human exploration programs. Leshin’s scientific expertise is in cosmochemistry, and she is primarily interested in deciphering the record of water on objects in our solar system.
James F. Kasting is a geoscientist and Distinguished Professor of Geosciences at Penn State University. Kasting was educated at Harvard University and the University of Michigan, where he received his Ph.D. in atmospheric science in 1979. Kasting has published dozens of reviews and papers, covering the geophysical history and status of the Earth, with a focus on atmospherics. He has also considered the habitability criteria of other stellar systems and planets and is broadly considered the world leader in the field of planetary habitability. Professor Kasting is also a member of numerous professional scientific societies and committees. He was elected Fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciencesand Geochemical Society in 2008. He has served NASA in various capacities, including as a member of the scientific working group for the Terrestrial Planet Finder, and as a civil servant for most of the 1980s. Kasting chaired NASA’s ExoPAG (Exoplanet Exploration Program Analysis Group) from 2010-2012.
Leslie Gertsch earned her Ph.D. at Colorado School of Mines. She joined the Missouri S&T Geological Engineering faculty in 2003. Previously she taught at the Colorado School of Mines and Michigan Technological University. Dr. Gertsch has ongoing research activities in rock fragmentation, innovative excavation techniques, mine planning and management, and rock engineering. She is also Deputy Director for Rock Mechanics of the Rock Mechanics and Explosives Research Center at MS&T. She teaches courses in Rock Discontinuity Analysis, Asteroid Mining, Engineering Mechanics, and basic Physical Geology for Engineers.
Emeline Paat-Dahlstrom is currently the VP of Operations for Singularity University, located inside NASA Research Park in Mt. View, CA. SU is a unique educational institution focusing on teaching exponential technologies like AI & Robotics, Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Digital Manufacturing and how they can be leveraged to solve global issues.
Emeline has degrees in Physics, and Earth and Space Science, and attended the International Space University (ISU) summer program as a student in Strasbourg, France. She has been involved with the ISU for 20 years serving as full time and volunteer staff for nine ISU summer programs around the world in different operations and academic capacities.
Previously, Emeline has worked as the Director of Program Development and Research and Director of Operations for Space Adventures Ltd, a space tourism company sending private citizens to the International Space Station. She has also worked as a space consultant working on proposal management and research for government and private space and aerospace companies. Emeline is co-author of the book Realizing Tomorrow: The Path to Private Space Flight for the Outward Odyssey Book Series, University of Nebraska Press.