Confirmed CONTACT 2014 Speakers include:
Tom Barbalet created the Noble Ape Simulation in 1996 and continues its development to this day. Noble Ape is used by Apple, Intel and Netflix as well as a number of universities to teach biodiversity, multimedia education, vector processing, real-time graphical interfaces, and a number of other technologies. He has been the editor of Biota.org (since 2005), a leading community resource for artificial life developers. He is the host of the Biota Live internet radio show where he discusses a variety of topics relating to artificial life, artificial intelligence, and simulation philosophy with a variety of guests. He is also the chair of the International Game Developers Association Intellectual Property Rights Special Interest Group and the International Society of Artificial Life's Industry Outreach Group.
William Borucki is a space scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. He received an MSc in physics from the University of Wisconsin in 1962 and then moved to NASA Ames where he first worked on the development of the heat shield for the Apollo Mission in the Hypersonic Free Flight Branch. After the successful Moon landings, he transferred to the Theoretical Studies Branch where he investigated lightning activity in planetary atmospheres and developed mathematical models to predict the effects of nitric oxides and chlorofluoromethanes on the Earthžs ozone layer. In 1984, he began advocating the development of a space mission that could detect Earth-size planets and determine the frequency of Earth-size planets in the habitable zone of Sun-like stars. In the succeeding years he developed the techniques required to find such small planets and showed that the technology and analysis techniques were sufficiently mature to proceed to flight status. Currently he is the Science Principal Investigator for the Kepler Mission that is designed to determine the frequency of terrestrial planets orbiting in and near the habitable zones of other stars. The Mission uses transit photometry to monitor over 170,000 stars. It was launched on March 6, 2009, completed its data acquisition phase in 2013, and is now in the data analysis phase. Based on the first three years of observations, over 238 planets have been confirmed and an additional 3500 planetary candidates have been discovered.
His awards include:
2013 Henry Draper Medal, presented by the National Academy of Sciences for " your founding concept, unflagging advocacy, and visionary leadership during the development of NASA's Kepler mission, which has uncovered myriad planets and solar systems with unforeseen and surprising properties."
2013 NASA Exception Scientific Achievement Award
2012 AIAA Science Award, "For outstanding leadership by designing and executing a space mission that has completely changed our view of frequency, structure, and diversity of planetary systems around the stars."
2012 Astronomical Society of the Pacific 2012 Maria & Eric Muhlman Award, "for recent significant observational results made possible by innovative advances in astronomical instrumentation, software, or observational infrastructure".
2012 SPIE George W. Goddard Award
2011 Lancelot M. Berkeley Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy
2011 Harvard Club of San Francisco; Public Service Leader of the Year
2010 NASAžs Outstanding Leadership Medal
2010 NASA Systems Engineering Excellence Award
2010 NASA Group Achievement Award; Kepler Science Team
2009 Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award
2005 Ames Honor Award; Excellence in the category of Scientist/Researcher
Penelope Boston is professor of Cave and Karst Studies at New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and Associate Director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute. She is an original member of the Case for Mars project, and a veteran of CONTACT with an abiding interest in extremophiles (human and microbial). Her research areas include geomicrobiology and astrobiology in extreme environments, human life support issues offworld, and the use of robotics to assist exploration and science. An eventual permanent human presence on Mars is one of the driving passions of her life.
William J. Clancey
William J. Clancey is a Senior Research Scientist at the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition in Pensacola. He was previously on assignment to NASA Ames Research Center as Chief Scientist for Human-Centered Computing, Intelligent Systems Division (1998-2013). He has extensive experience in Artificial Intelligence applications to medicine, education, and robotics, combining models of reasoning, agent assistants, and ethnographic studies of work practices. His scientific interest is to relate the nature of conceptualization to the cultural evolution of cognition and the varieties of animal consciousness. Clancey holds a doctorate in computer science from Stanford University and was a founding member of the Institute for Research on Learning (1987-1997). He is a Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, the AAAI, and the Association for Psychological Science. His most recent book, Working on Mars (August 2012), examines how the Mars Exploration Rovers have changed the nature of planetary field science.
Bruce holds an MSEE from the University of Southern California and a BSc from the University of Victoria in Canada. He is the CEO and founder of The Digital Space Commons and a founding director of the Contact Consortium, two organizations dedicated to the use of virtual worlds and virtual communites for positive societal change and scientific advancement. Digital Space is an innovative "Corporate Commons" which has a non-shareholder "chaordic"-style structure consisting of individual licensee/members working with a pool of shared intellectual and social capital. Since 1995 Digital Space has provided virtual world platforms, content and virtual community infrastructure for a large number of innovative client projects including work for NASA (a virtual habitat on Mars) and Adobe Systems Inc. (Adobe's Atmosphere community). In 2002 he cofounded the DigiBarn Computer Museum, a 5,000 square foot facility housed in his barn at Ancient Oaks Farm in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The DigiBarn features hundreds of working personal computers dating back to the kit systems of 1975. Extensive documentation telling the story of computing has been made available at the DigiBarn web site. Also at Ancient Oaks Farm he is currently developing a community garden and raising pigs with his love, Galen Brandt.
Dennis A. Etler
Dennis A. Etler received his Ph.D. in paleoanthropology from UC Berkeley and currently teaches at Cabrillo and Gavilan Colleges. He has lived and worked in China for many years and has been involved in a number of projects that helped open the door to foreign participation in paleoanthropological and archeological research in China. Projects Dennis helped initiate include: 1) Description and analysis of Early Middle Pleistocene human crania from Yunxian, Hubei, China; 2) Joint Chinese-American study and excavation of early Paleolithic sites in the Nihewan basin of Hebei; 3) Joint Chinese-American study of new fossil hominoid remains from the Yuanmou basin. He continues his study of the fossil record of ape and human evolution in China and has published review articles that have synthesized research on new recently discovered specimens. His current interest is documenting the early dispersal of anatomically modern humans into East Asia many thousands of years prior to the spread of behaviorally modern humans into the region 35,000 years ago.
Chris Ford is the RenderMan Business Director at Pixar Animation Studios with over 20 years experience in computer graphics (CG) software development as applied to contemporary feature film visual effects, animation, game development, and scientific and astronomical visualization. Prior to joining Pixar in 2005, Chris held key positions at Autodesk where he was Director of Product Management for all 3D Media & Entertainment software tools between 2002 to 2005, and at Alias|Wavefront (SGI) as a technical design engineer for Maya, introducing the software to market as Senior Maya Product Manager between 1997 and 2002. Film industry applications managed by Chris have been awarded two Academy Awards for technological innovation and he is credited in nine feature films. Chris is also an astro-photographer with a specific interest in applying contemporary media production technologies to the visualization of astronomical data in the cause of public outreach, and has lectured on the state of the art at many public events and conferences. Chris is currently President of the Mount Diablo Astronomical Society, and serves on the Board of Directors of The Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
Jim Funaro is the founder of CONTACT and professor emeritus in anthropology at Cabrillo College, which has honored him with its highest award for teaching excellence. Publications demonstrating his research interests are "Anthropologists as Culture Designers for Offworld Colonies" and "On the Cultural Impact of Extraterrestrial Contact." His personal and professional approach to life combines the sciences and the arts. Besides his graduate degrees in Anthropology, has a BA cum laude in Literature and is a published poet; he won the American Anthropological Association's 1997 prize for poetry with "The Dancing Stones of Callanish."
Joel Hagen is cofounder of CONTACT and an original member of the Board of Directors. He is a MER Collaborator and a full time computer graphics instructor at Modesto Junior College. For many years he has worked with NASA Ames processing images for their science teams on the Pathfinder, MER and Phoenix Mars missions. Joel also designs extra-terrestrial life forms and biomes for television. His work has appeared on PBS, BBC, NHK in Japan, and on the Discovery and National Geographic channels. Joel is an award-winning artist and animator and one of the founding members of the International Association of Astronomical Artists. His paintings have hung in the Smithsonian Air and Space museum and the Gagarin Center in Moscow.
Albert A. Harrison
Al Harrison received his BA and MA in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan. In 1967, he joined the faculty of the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, and in 1979 he advanced to Professor. Now Professor Emeritus, he is the author or co- author of approximately 100 papers in a wide range of journals, and his individually and co-authored books include Living Aloft: Human Requirements for Extended Spaceflight (1985), From Antarctica to Outer Space: Life in Isolation and Confinement (1991), After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life (Plenum, 1997) and Spacefaring: The Human Dimension (2001), Starstruck: Cosmic Visions in Science Religion and Folklore (2007) and Civilizations Beyond Earth: Extraterrestrial Life and Society (2011). Al was a member of NASA's Space Human Factors Engineering Science and Technology Working Group and is a member of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Study Group of the International Academy of Astronautics. He joined Contact in 1985 and much of his work has been inspired or informed (or both) by Contact meetings.
With over 11 years of feature film visual effects experience while at Industrial Light & Magic, Jeroen is celebrating his 5th year as Senior Technical Director in the Visualization Studio, at the California Academy of Sciences. The Visualization Studio team is working on their 4th internally produced dome production for the visiting public.
Pat started out as a marine biologist and ended up as a forensic anthropologist, with stints as a law enforcement forensic technician and UN genocide investigator along the way. She is also a science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and horror (she's seen a lot of that in her day jobs) author and CONTACT veteran.
Robert S. McCann
Robert McCann is Group Lead of NASA Ames' Intelligent Spacecraft Interface Systems Laboratory. He holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Waterloo and started his career at Ames as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow. He has conducted research in the areas of human multitasking limitations, testing and evaluation of advanced automation and human-computer interfaces for aircraft surface operations and real-time fault management on next-generation spacecraft, human performance modeling and simulation, and effects of vibration on spacecraft operations. He has over 60 professional publications in these areas, which have been cited in over 700 refereed journal articles. In his spare time, he blogs on scientific and astronomical topics at whabbear.blogspot.com.
Dr. David Morrison is the Director of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute. He was founding Director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) and is one of the founders of the multidisciplinary field of astrobiology. Astrobiologists today are primarily studying the history of microbial life on Earth and extremes of habitability. These studies are extended to analysis of the potential habitability of other planets, leading toward future efforts to detect the presence of life on other worlds, within our solar system or as part of distant planetary systems.
Larry Niven is a veteran of first CONTACT (and many others). Larry is one of America's premier science fiction writers. Perhaps his best-known work is Ringworld (1970), which received the Hugo, Locus, Ditmar and Nebula awards. In addition to these awards, Niven won the Hugo for Best Short story for "Neutron Star" in 1967. Other short stories of his won the same award in 1972 and 1975. In 1976, he won the Hugo for Best Novelette for "The Borderland of Sol." His work is primarily hard science fiction, using big-science concepts and theoretical physics. He was CONTACT's keynote speaker in 1995. Mr. Niven is not presenting this year but may participate in discussions.
Gerald D. Nordley is an astronautical engineer and author living in Sunnyvale, CA. A retired Air Force officer with an MS in systems management, he has extensive experience in spacecraft systems operations, engineering, and testing as well as research in advanced spacecraft propulsion. As author "G. David Nordley," he is a past Hugo and Nebula award nominee as well as a four-time winner of the Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact annual "AnLab" reader's poll. His latest novel, To Climb a Flat Mountain is available from Amazon.com. See www.gdnordley.com. He is a longtime CONTACT veteran and currently serves as the organization's treasurer. His biggest current time sink (after CONTACT!) is armchair amateur astronomy--trying to keep up with extrasolar planet discoveries.
Jim Pass received a doctorate in sociology from the University of Southern California in 1991. In 2003, he founded the field of astrosociology. The development of astrosociology as a social-scientific academic field continues to move forward on several fronts. In March of 2011, the 3rd Symposium on Astrosociology took place at the University of Maryland as part of the Space Propulsion, Energy International Forum (SPESIF), though SPESIF has disbanded. From 2003 through 2011, progress occurred mostly in the form of presentations at space and social science conferences. In addition, the introduction of astrosociology took place at the AIAA's Space 2005 conference. From that experience, a core group of individuals led by Dr. Pass developed the Astrosociology Working Group, which later became the Astrosociology Subcommittee. By May 2008, enough progress existed to justify the creation of the Astrosociology Research Institute (ARI), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a mission to develop astrosociology as an academic field and assist others -- especially students -- to participate through education and research. One of the major goals is to move astrosociology into the classroom. As a first step to that end, Dr. Pass taught the first master's level course in astrosociology for the internet-based Kepler Space University in 2010. Another significant achievement occurred in 2011, when the respected journal Astropolitics published a special issue devoted exclusively to astrosociology (January-April, Volume 9, Number 1). Current efforts underway in 2013-2014 include the Astrosociology in the Classroom program, The Journal of Astrosociology, and the Launching Astrosociology textbook
Seth Shostak is the Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, in Mountain View, California. He has an undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University and a doctorate in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology. For much of his career, Seth conducted radio astronomy research on galaxies, and has published approximately sixty papers in professional journals.
He has also written more than four hundred popular magazine, newspaper and Web articles on various topics in astronomy, technology, film and television. He lectures on astronomy and other subjects at Stanford and other venues in the Bay Area, and for six years was a Distinguished Speaker for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is also Chair of the International Academy of Astronautics' SETI Permanent Committee. Every week he hosts the SETI Institute's science radio show, "Big Picture Science."
Seth has written, edited and contributed to a half dozen books. His most recent tome is Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (National Geographic).
Michael Sims is an expert in artificial intelligence, robotics and telepresence. He is Vice President for Software and Chief Robotics Officer at Moon Express, a new space startup pioneering the commercial possibilities beyond Earth orbit. Prior to joining Moon Express, Michael worked at NASA Ames and participated in many missions including the Mars Exploration Rovers. He is a long time CONTACT veteran and emeritus member of the CONTACT Board of Directors.
Allen G. Taylor
Allen is a former aerospace design engineer and university professor. He is the author of over 30 books, a number of which are in the popular "For Dummies" series. Allen frequently lectures on cruise ships on astronomy and space travel.
Kathleen D. Toerpe
Kathleen D. Toerpe is a social and cultural historian who researches the human dimension of outer space through an emerging field called 'Astrosociology.' She is the Deputy CEO for Programs and Special Projects with the Astrosociology Research Institute, volunteers as a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador, leads the Educational Special Interest Group for the 100 Year Starship initiative to lay the groundwork for future interstellar travel, and provides space outreach consulting through Stellar Outreach, LLC. She also teaches courses in the social sciences and in critical and creative thinking at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. She earned an Honors BA in History and Philosophy (1984) from Marquette University, and a MA in Public History (1990) and PhD in American History (1992) from Loyola University Chicago. In past years, she has served as adjunct faculty at Loyola University Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and various community and technical colleges in Illinois and Wisconsin. She has served as a Historian-in-Residence and a museum Educational Curator and has provided local outreach programming, oral history program management and exhibit curation to all age groups. As a formal and outreach educator, she encourages others to carefully observe the world around them in a spirit of inquiry and wonder. As a research and applied astrosociologist, she investigates how individuals and societies react and respond to space exploration and astrobiological discoveries, and how those responses can reflect, predict, inform or mitigate social and cultural conflict here on earth. She can be found on Twitter at @ktoerpe.
Israel Zuckerman is the coordinator of the COTI: CULTURES OF THE IMAGINATION simulation. He has a BA in Anthropology, and currently is a computer technician and educator at a bilingual elementary school in Watsonville, CA. Israel is a member of the CONTACT Board of Directors.