CosmoQuest-a-Con 2021 – Guests

Meet our Guests of Honor

Candy Hansen


Dr. Candy Hansen is a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. She has a Ph.D. in Planetary Science from UCLA. She is a member of the flight teams for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and Mars Trace Gas Orbiter, the Juno mission in orbit around Jupiter, and the Europa Clipper.



Brian Gray is a writer, gaymer, foodie, streamer, brunch aficionado and all-around nerd who resides in The Swanktuary when he’s not out and about exploring (when it’s advisable to do so) or staying in and trying all things new on the internet. He can be found most places online as urbanbohemian.

Nurul Syahirah Binti Nazarudin


Humanity has been tracing the sky through arts for thousands of years, passing down knowledge in a form that transcends language and culture. Explore the beauty of our cosmos through works of arts and reimagine the universe in the most creative way with artistic techniques, from canvas to cosmos.

Meet our Additional Guests (under construction)

Roberto Abraham,
The World’s Coolest (& Weirdest) Telescope

Roberto Abraham is a Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. He is the co-principal investigator of the Dragonfly Telephoto Array project (Dragonfly for short), which is now the world’s largest all-lens telescope.

Kirsten Banks

Kirsten Banks is a proud Wiradjuri astrophysicist and science communicator. She loves to share her passion for space and astronomy in any way she can, you may have seen her short quirky space videos on TikTok!

Eric Berger

Eric Berger is a senior space editor for Ars Technica, and author of the book Liftoff, about the origins of SpaceX.

Richard Berry

Been into astronomy since age 13, when I discovered stars were more interesting to me than dinosaurs and electronics. Got into photography, got BA in Astronomy, worked in research, got good at writing, edited an astronomy magazine, wrote books, wrote software, enjoying life as VP#2 of AAVSO

Nicholas Castle

Research scientist, space enthusiast, mission operator (@MarsCuriosity); espresso required daily.

Kimberly Cartier

Kimberly is a reporter for Eos, an Earth and space science news outlet hosted by the American Geophysical Union. Her science communication superpowers are charged by her background studying extrasolar planets, including their atmospheres and habitability, and her love of all things space.

Andrew Chaikin

Space historian Andrew Chaikin is best known as the author of “A Man on the Moon: The Voyages of the Apollo Astronauts,” which was the basis for HBO’s 12-part, Emmy-winning miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.” He is also a visiting instructor at NASA.

Anoa J Changa

Anoa Changa is an independent journalist based in Atlanta focusing on electoral justice, voting rights, politics, and culture. She is comic, fantasy, and sci-fi aficionado.

Dr Emma Chapman

Dr Emma Chapman is a Royal Society fellow based at Imperial College London. She uses radio telescopes based in Europe and Australia to look back 13 billion years to when the Universe first lit up with a Cosmic Dawn. Emma published her first book, First Light, in November 2020.

Tim Chrisman, Foundation for the Future

Tim is a former CIA intelligence officer, a retired Army intelligence officer, and former intelligence advisor to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. He holds two master’s degrees and is the author of a book and articles about humanity in space.

Adeene Denton

Adeene Denton is a geologist and planetary scientist interested in surface processes on terrestrial and icy bodies. Adeene is trained as a scientist, historian, and dancer, which informs her scientific research process.

Jan Eldridge / Astro_JJE

Dr Jan Eldridge is currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Auckland. Her general research concerns the lives and deaths of stars, from those in our own Galaxy to those in galaxies at the edge of the observable Universe.

Jeff Foust

Jeff Foust is a senior staff writer at SpaceNews, writing about civil and commercial space. He is also the editor and publisher of The Space Review, a weekly online publication of essays and commentary on space topics.

Greg Gbur

Greg Gbur is a Professor of Physics and Optical Science at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte, where he specializes in theoretical wave optics. He is a longtime science blogger and author of the recent book Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics, about how cats land on their feet.

Kevin Gill

Software engineer, data wrangler, and Martian photographer at NASA-JPL.

Stephen Granade

Stephen Granade is a physicist and writer who specializes in robots and sensors. His sensors have read fingerprints from 10 feet away, tracked drones, and guided the Shuttle to Hubble. He was most recently on NASA’s Unexplained Files. His fiction has appeared in Escape Pod and Baffling Magazine.

David Grinspoon

David Grinspoon, Senior Scientist at Planetary Science Institute, is an astrobiologist who studies the possible conditions for life on other planets and the human influence on Earth. His most recent book is Chasing New Horizons. Also a musician, he fronts the House Band of the Universe.

Nicole Gugliucci

Professor, astronomer, education researcher, maker-of-tiny-comets, and all around geek, Dr. Nicole Gugliucci has made it her mission to study and share the Universe. She is an assistant professor of physics in New Hampshire.

Ashley Hamer

Ashley Hamer is managing editor and host of the award-winning Curiosity Daily podcast from Discovery and the creator of Taboo Science, named one of the Best Podcasts of 2020 by Discover Pods. She’s also a professional saxophonist, a Boston-qualified marathon runner, and a cat person.

Thilina Heenatigala

Thilina Heenatigala (he/him/his) is a Science Communicator at Earth-Life Science Institute in Tokyo, where he leads the communication and outreach efforts. He’s an avid mountain hiker and runs a book-club in Tokyo.

George Hrab

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, story teller, science advocate, producer, composer, and heliocentrist George Hrab is considered one of the preeminent skeptic/science/atheist/geek-culture music icons currently living in his apartment.

G. S. Jennsen

Science fiction author. Futurist, geek, gamer, programmer, editor.

Mat Kaplan,
Planetary Radio at The Planetary Society

Mat Kaplan is the long time host and producer of Planetary Radio, the popular space exploration podcast and public radio series from The Planetary Society. A space geek nearly from birth, Mat also hosts live events for the Society.

Virginia Kilborn

Professor Virginia Kilborn is Swinburne University’s Chief Scientist, and a radio astronomer observing galaxies with radio telescopes from around the world. A self-described space nerd, Virginia also helps lead teams of students to send experiments to the International Space Station.

Karen Knierman

From Smurfs and Star Wars to a Dancing Astronomer, Dr. K. is often exploring the intersections of science, arts, and pop culture.

Tanya Kuzara / MsBrickKitten

Engineer who adores Lego, and builds Lego Robots to teach and chase children at conventions and shows. Mild Mannered Quality Engineer by day, Mad Scientist robot builder by night!

Mur Lafferty

Author, editor, podcaster, streamer, gamer.

Heather Laird

Amateur Astronomer; AAVSO Ambassador Leader, AAVSO Board Member, RASC Calgary Volunteer and Sci-Comm Enthusiast

Elizabeth Landau

Elizabeth Landau is an award-winning journalist and science communicator. She has contributed articles to the New York Times, Washington Post, WIRED, Smithsonian, and other publications. As a NASA contractor, she produces the space podcast Gravity Assist as well as multimedia for NASA platforms.

Keren Landsman

A mother, a published author and a physician with a speciality in Epidemiology and Public Health who really misses the times when people didn’t know what’s Epidemiology.

Yoav Landsman/Moonscape

STEM Professional, I Inspire people about space and spaceflight!

Jamie Molaro

Jamie is a planetary scientist at the Planetary Science Institute who studies rocky and icy surfaces of asteroids, comets, and moons. She’s an artist and musician who runs exhibitions and workshops on science and data-driven art. She’s also disabled, and loves playing D&D and board/video games.

Bill Nash

Bill Nash is a photography and technology streamer, often teaching photography fundamentals, editing fine art landscapes, building robotic telescope systems, and everything related. He’s a founding member of the Twitch Photography stream team, and a member of The Knowledge Fellowship.

Steve Nerlich

Cheap Astronomy: Explore the universe on a shoestring. Follow on Patreon.

Brandon O’Brien

Brandon O’Brien is a writer, performance poet, teaching artist and game designer from Trinidad and Tobago. He is the former poetry editor of FIYAH: A Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction. His debut poetry collection, Can You Sign My Tentacle?, is forthcoming from Interstellar Flight Press.

Mike Osborne, Generation Anthropocene

I’m a podcast producer and creative consultant. I’ve created 2 original podcasts: Generation Anthropocene and Raw Data. In addition to being a showrunner, I also make a living by helping people launch new podcasts. Once upon a time I got a PhD in climate science (long story).

Andrés Alejandro Plazas Malagón

Dr. Andrés Plazas Malagón is an astrophysicist at Princeton University working for the Vera C. Rubin Observatory. His research interests are in observational cosmology, astronomical instrumentation, and the use gravitational lensing to learn about dark matter and dark energy.

Trina L. Ray

Currently the Deputy Science Manager and Investigation Scientist for the radar instrument on NASA’s Europa Clipper Mission. She worked 20 years on the Cassini Mission (specializing in Titan), and started her career working on Voyager. She is an active public speaker.

Dean Regas

Dean has been the Astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory since 2000. He is a renowned educator, author, national popularizer of astronomy and an expert in observational astronomy. Dean is the author of four books and cohosts the podcast Looking Up.

Morgan Rehnberg

Dr. Morgan Rehnberg is a planetary scientist, educator, and writer. Since 2017, he has worked at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, where he currently serves as Chief Scientist. Morgan loves space and dinosaurs, and wishes there were space dinosaurs.

Andy Rivkin

Andy Rivkin is a planetary astronomer whose research focuses on small bodies, especially asteroids, studying them for science and for planetary defense. When not working, Andy likes to write, listen to, and play music (and watch baseball). Check out:

Jesse Rogerson

Jesse is a passionate scientist, educator and communicator. Jesse’s research examined quasars – super massive black holes in the centres of distant galaxies. He is an Assistant Professor at York University. Before that, Jesse worked at three of Canada’s preeminent science museums.

Dr. Kiki Sanford

Dr. Kiki is an experienced science communicator, owner of Broader Impacts Productions, & host of the This Week in Science podcast. She is also on the board of directors for Science Talk, leading their public relations efforts.

Niamh Shaw

Niamh (pronounced ‘Neeve’) is an Irish performer & writer scientist & engineer. Passionate about igniting peoples curiosity she shares a new perspective of Earth from Space. Creator of theatre shows,public events, she’s an award-winning communicator. In 2020, she published her first book, ‘Dream Big’.

Rob Sparks

Rob Sparks currently works in education and outreach at NOIRLab (yes, that’s a real thing…google it) in Tucson, Arizona. He works on a variety of education programs, news teams and social media. When not working he can be found on area stages in Tucson and out in the desert pursuing photography.

Linda Spilker

Dr. Linda Spilker is a planetary scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who has participated in NASA and international planetary missions for 44 years, including both Voyager and Cassini. She is currently the Voyager Deputy Project Scientist and supports studies for new outer planet missions.

Alessondra “Sondy” Springmann

Alessondra Springmann, better known as Sondy, is a asteroid and comet scientist in her final year of the planetary science PhD program at the University of Arizona. Having worked at Arecibo Observatory and on the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, you might say that asteroids do concern her.

Ted Stryk

I am a philosophy professor at Roane State Community CollegeTennessee. Planetary exploration has always been an interest of mine, particularly reprocessing old data. I am a collaborator with the New Horizons Pluto mission Geology and Geophysics team and served a member of the encounter team.

Miles Traer

Miles studied geophysics at UC Berkeley and Stanford while co-creating the Generation Anthropocene podcast (stories about planetary change). In his spare time, you can find Miles working on projects like The Geology of Game of Thrones, or calculating the Carbon Footprint of Superheroes.

Michi Trota

Five-time Hugo Award winner, British Fantasy Award winner & Ignyte Award finalist Michi Trota is a Filipina-American writer, editor, speaker, and firespinner. She is the Senior Editor at Prism and the 1st POC to serve as Editor in Chief for Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Ciro Villa

Ciro Villa is a Senior Software Engineer for Space Launch Range Systems monitoring and control applications currently working for the US Space Force. His main field of interest are Science, Technology, Space Exploration, Astronomy and Cosmology. His Twitter handle is @CiroV1.

Chris Vaughan

Chris “AstroGeoGuy” Vaughan delivers planetarium experiences, talks, & star parties in the Toronto area. He writes the Skylights blog, stories for SkyNews magazine and, & “what’s up” for several astronomy apps. Chris operates the DDO’s 74″telescope and volunteers for RASC Toronto Centre.

Ashley Lindalia Walker, founder of

Ashley Lindalia Walker is a planetary astrochemist and science communicator. She received her B.S. in Chemistry from Chicago State University. She’s a PhD student at Howard University. She is also the founder of #BlackInAstro week, co-founder of #BlackInChem and #BlackInPhysics week.

Suzanne Walker

Suzanne Walker is a Chicago-based writer and editor. She is co-creator of the Hugo-nominated graphic novel Mooncakes (2019, Lion Forge/Oni Press). Her short fiction has been published in Clarkesworld and Uncanny Magazine.

Jean Louise Wright

Jean was an Aerospace Composite Tech for United Space Alliance as a member of the Thermal Protection System Facility at KSC. As one of the “Sew Sisters,” she was responsible for fabricating flight hardware for the shuttle by hand and machine sewing.

Patrick Young

Patrick is an astrophysicist and astrobiologist at Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration. His first memory is of the Voyager 1 encounter at Saturn. He is also a dancer, fire performer, photographer, and justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion advocate.