Science Programming and Guests

FARPOINT 2023 Science Guests as of 11/13/22:
Dr. Charles Blue
Dr. Inge Heyer
Stephen Lesnik
Dr. Valerie J. Mikles
Dr. Tim Miller
Dr. Seth Rittenhouse
Adeena Mignogna
Tom Hill
Dr. Charles Adler
Ken Carpenter
Steve Rifkin

Our Farpoint 2022 schedule is listed below to provide an idea of the quality of science programs presented at our conventions. The #FarpointCon2023 schedule is in development and guests will be announced as invitations are accepted.

Friday, 25 February, 2022

4 PM

Dr. Valerie Mikles

SmallSats and the Miniaturization of Space-based Observatories

5 PM

Dr. Paul Abell

Planetary Defense: Defending the Earth from Hazardous Asteroids

Saturday, 26 February, 2022

10 AM

Dr. David Batchelor

The Space Junk Crisis – an Update

11 AM

Stephen Lesnik

Ransomware Revealed

12 PM

Dr. Stephanie Slater

Dr. Tim Slater

Famous Eclipses in Science Fiction

1 PM

Dr. Thomas R. Holtz

What’s New in the World of Dinosaurs in 2022?

2 PM

Dr. Jay Nadeau

Looking at Bacteria on the International Space Station

Sunday, 27 February, 2022

12 PM

Dr. Inge Heyer

Astronomy Update — JWST, Mars, and Exoplanets

1 PM

Dr. Willie Yee

Moons of the Solar System

Presentation Descriptions

SmallSats and the Miniaturization of Space-based Observatories

From SmallSats to MicroSats, we are testing the limits of launching
practical and powerful new observatories in tiny containers. Are
these swarms of tiny satellites poised to take over for our large,
multi-purpose observatories? Dr. Valerie Mikles talks about her work
with the current flagship weather satellites, and looks at how these
new miniature wonders can change the future.

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Planetary Defense: Defending the Earth from Hazardous Asteroids

This presentation will provide some background on potentially hazardous asteroids, recent Earth impacts, and NASA’s activities to help
protect Earth from asteroids. The presentation will describe NASA’s
Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission as well as share
information on the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Hera mission.
DART will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impactor
technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space.

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The Space Junk Crisis — an Update

Since the dawn of the space age, junk left in orbit by space missions has
accumulated, threatening existing and new missions with random
collisions at artillery velocities. The problem is acknowledged by
many space+faring nations, but solutions are in embryonic stages,
negligible compared with the scale of the threat. It’s a growing
crisis, endangering astronauts and expensive, vital space vehicles.
In this talk, I will review the status and proposed solutions for
this problem.

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Ransomware Revealed

One of the top Cybersecurity threats keeping companies, governments, and the general populous up at night is Ransomware. In this presentation, information about this scourge of the Internet is revealed. Attendees will learn about the general types of Ransomware, how it gets in to damage systems and holds them for ransom, the underlying ecosystem that supports it and enriches criminals, some details on how it
functions, and some measures that can be taken to prevent being one
of the growing list of victims. Join us to get some knowledge and
help save yourself some restless nights.

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Famous Eclipses in Science Fiction

A total eclipse of the Sun is one of the most wondrous events Mother
Nature provides for Earthlings. Given the tremendous emotional power
of natural events, one wonders if creative science fiction authors
have found intriguing ways to bring the wonder of eclipses to
illuminate and add to the story they are trying to tell. As it turns
out, solar eclipses are common in the science fiction genre, and make
for a wonderful story telling addition.

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What’s New in the World of Dinosaurs in 2022

Learn about the latest discoveries from the fossil record of Earth’s most magnificent ancient beasts.

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Looking at Bacteria on the International Space Station

Although physics predicts that bacteria are too small to respond to a
gravitational field, experiments have shown that exposure to
micro gravity changes how bacteria grow, including influencing their
virulence. This has important implications for astronaut health, and
so it is important to study bacteria on the ISS. We are preparing a
microscope to fly and image bacterial growth and motility, and here I
discuss some of the challenges involved with preparing such an
experiment for space.

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Astronomy Update — JWST, Mars, and Exoplanets

We will discuss the latest exciting developments and discoveries of
select astronomy missions. This will include the launch, journey (so
far), and future plans of the James Webb Space Telescope, the
activities of the currently deployed and active rovers on Mars, and
the latest on planets around other stars (exoplanets).

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Moons of the Solar System

The planets of our solar system harbor hundreds of moons. We will examine each planet’s moon system and how NASA missions have explored them. The uniqueness of Earth’s Moon will be explored.

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Presenter Biographies


Paul Abell
is the Chief Scientist for Small Body Exploration in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. His main areas of interest are physical characterization of near-Earth objects (NEOs) via
ground-based and spacecraft observations, examination of NEOs for future robotic and human exploration, mitigation of potentially hazardous asteroids and comets, and identification of potential resources within the NEO population for future in situ utilization.

He was a science team member on the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa near-Earth asteroid sample-return mission and participated in the successful recovery of the spacecraft‘s sample return capsule, which returned to Woomera, Australia in June 2010. Paul is currently a team member of the Hayabusa2 mission and is
aiding the cooperation between Hayabusa2 and NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft teams as they investigate and sample their respective near-Earth asteroids.

Since 2006 Paul has been a member of an internal NASA team that has been examining the possibility of sending astronauts to NEOs for human missions. He is also an investigation team member on both NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) and Near-Earth Object Survey or Mission (NEOSM) planetary defense missions, and a team member
on ESA’s own planetary defense mission named Hera. Asteroid 8139 (1980 UM1) is named Paulabell in recognition of Paul’s contributions to NEO research and exploration studies.

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Dr. David Batchelor
earned his undergraduate B.S. in Physics from MIT and his Ph. D. in physics from UNC-Chapel Hill. The Ph. D. was for research on solar flares atGoddard Space Flight Center as part of the science team for NASA’s
Solar Maximum Mission spacecraft. He later was hired by NASA and was
employed at Goddard from 1988 through 2019. He has performed
scientific research in medical physics, and in astrophysics and
elementary particle physics at NASA. He also managed educational web
software development, and joined in space mission proposal writing.
He served as a Radiation Physicist (forecasting the solar and cosmic
radiation doses that may be encountered by NASA space missions). He
was also an adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Maryland
University College, where he taught Introduction to Physical Sciences
for six semesters.

His article The Science in Star Trek is the most-read article
about that topic on the Internet, and has been widely republished.
Consequently he has been consulted on futurist topics by Wired
Online, The Economist, Star Trek Communicator, The San Francisco
Chronicle, National Geographic Online, NBC Nightly News, and numerous other publications. He and William Shatner were guests on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Star Talk on the National Geographic Channel, 2016 December 19.

His first science fiction novel, The Metalmark Contract, was published in
2011 by Black Rose Writing. He has been working on part 2 of the
Metalmark saga. His first science fiction short story was published
in the April 2015 issue of Communications of the Association for
Computing Machines. In January 2020, he was hired by Northrop Grumman Corp. as a Senior Principal Engineer, and he analyzes spacecraft electronic parts to ensure that space radiation will not disable
them. He and his wife Laurie recently celebrated their 43rd
anniversary

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Inge Heyer, Ph.D., has spent decades developing a unique expertise in
astronomy communications across a variety of settings, including college classrooms, K-12 schools, informal educational settings,
professional scientific journalism, and science fiction venues. Born and raised in Berlin, Germany, she completed her secondary education there before accepting a scholarship to attend Tenri University (Japan), where she studied Japanese. After later earning an undergraduate degree in Astronomy and Physics from Smith College, she earned a Master’s degree in Astronomy from the University of Hawai`i at Manoa, and a Ph.D. in Science Education from the University of Wyoming.

In addition to her professional work as senior data analyst at the Space
Telescope Science Institute, Dr. Heyer also served as Deputy Press
Officer for the American Astronomical Society and as the public
information officer at the Joint Astronomy Centre, where she led the
education and public outreach efforts. She has earned Shodan in both
Judo and Karate and contributes as guest science blogger to
StarTrek.com.

Dr. Heyer currently teaches astronomy and physics at Loyola University.

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Dr. Thomas R. Holtz, Jr
is Principal Lecturer in Vertebrate Paleontology at the Department of Geology, University of Maryland, College Park. His research focuses on the origin, evolution, adaptations, and behavior of carnivorous dinosaurs, and especially of
tyrannosauroids (Tyrannosaurus Rex and its kin). He received his Bachelors in Earth & Planetary Geology at Johns Hopkins in 1987 and his Ph.D. from the Department of Geology & Geophysics at Yale in 1992. He is also a Research Associate of the Department of Paleobiology of the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History and serves on the Scientific Council of Maryland Academy of Science (which operates the Maryland Science Center, Baltimore, MD).

In addition to his dinosaur research, Holtz has been active in
scientific outreach. He has been a consultant on museum exhibits
around the world, and on numerous documentaries. He is the author of
the award-winning Dinosaurs: The Most Complete, Up-To-Date
Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages (Random House). He was
co-editor of the 2014 2nd Edition of The Complete Dinosaur (Indiana
Univ. Press) and is in the midst of coediting the 3rd Edition.

He received the 2018-2019 Provost’s Excellence in Teaching Award for
Professional Track Faculty. His web page is
Dr. Thomas R. Holtz Jr.

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Stephen Lesnik
(CISSP-ISSEP-ISSMP, CCSP, CEH, CySA+) has been in the
Cybersecurity and education fields for nearly forty years. He has a
history of working with both government and commercial organizations
providing network development, systems engineering, and security
engineering to big and small customers. He has provided both
corporate and collegiate education, teaching both specific
capabilities and broad concepts in computing and Cybersecurity, and
has worked with independent professional organizations in the
development of professionally recognized certification exams. He is
currently serving as the treasurer of a new (ISC)2 Chapter in
Annapolis Junction, Maryland. Outside of his professional career,
Stephen is an avid Science Fiction fan who has assisted with running
many, many media, literary, and costume-oriented conventions over the
years, and has been a semi-pro photographer.

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Dr. Valerie Mikles
is a PhD astronomer who defected from academia to work on weather satellites for NOAA. She is a
self-published author, and have recently published her eleventh science fiction space opera, the latest featuring a non binary space marine. She is active in community theater as an actor, choreographer, costumer, and stage manager. She also has a few YouTube channels with short films and music videos, many themed around asexuality and queer identity. Her motto in life is that she can be
everything she wants, just not all at the same time.

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Dr. Jay Louise Nadeau
is a professor of Physics at Portland State University, where she runs an interdisciplinary lab dedicated to the
detection and characterization of microbial life in extreme environments. She is also involved with educational efforts to make graduate physics education accessible to students from other fields, who wish to either transfer into physics or learn some modern techniques for applications to biology, chemistry, geology, or math. Prior to PSU, she was a professor of Biomedical Engineering at McGill University in Montreal for 11 years. She runs a small publishing house, Bitingduck Press, whose aim is to publish unusual books by, for, and about scientists. She has published one textbook, Introduction to Experimental Biophysics (Taylor & Francis), and is working on a popular science photo book about the extreme Arctic.
She got her PhD from the University of Minnesota in theoretical
physics in 1996.

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Stephanie J. Slater,
Ph.D., is a cognitive scientist specializing in how
people of all ages and backgrounds learn to navigate the intersection
of science and culture. Currently, she is the Director of the CAPER
Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research. After
undergraduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
and grad ate work at Montana State University, Dr. Slater earned her
Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in socio-cultural learning
studying how research experiences influence the professional career
pathways and attitudes of women scientists. She is a widely read
author and frequently invited speaker at science fiction conventions,
describing how society reacts to the evolution of science and
technology.

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Dr. Tim Slater
is the University of Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chair of Science Education. Known as “the professor’s professor” because he has taught many professional scientists how to teach, Professor Slater earned his Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina, his M.S. from Clemson University, and two bachelors’ degrees from Kansas State University. An internationally recognized scholar supported with long-standing federal grants from NASA and the NSF, he is an author on more than 100 scientific journal articles, 16 books, the winner of numerous awards, serves a scholarly journal editor, and is frequently an
invited speaker on the popularization of science.

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Dr. Willie Yee
is an amateur astronomer, past president and member of the Board of Directors of the Mid-Hudson Astronomical Association.
He presently is a Solar System Ambassador, a program supported by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. Dr Yee also presents a Star Trek-themed interactive magic act as the Vulcan S’kai. He was part of the crew of Star Trek New Voyages / Phase II. He has studied at the McBride Magic and Mystery School in Las Vegas. He has presented the Starship Magic show at numerous SF and astronomical gatherings, both in person and online.

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