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Speakers

Dr. Stephon Alexander, is a musician and professor of physics and astronomy at Brown University (Providence, RI), and author of The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link between Music and the Structure of the Universe. 

As a theoretical physicist, jazz saxophonist and author, Alexander specializes in the connections between cosmology, particle physics and quantum gravity exploring interconnections between music, physics, mathematics and technology. 

Dr. Allison Kirkpatrick is an observational astrophysicist who studies how supermassive black holes form and evolve.

She has won observing time on the best telescopes in the world, including the NASA’s new flagship—the James Webb Space Telescope. Her work has been featured in Nature, the Washington Post, Kansas Public Radio, VICE, and numerous other outlets.

Her body of work has broken conventional ideas about how supermassive black holes evolve.

Dr. David Levy is an Emmy Award winning amateur astronomer, science writer and discoverer of comets and minor planets, who co-discovered Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 in 1993. Awarded a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Levy has written 34 books including The Quest for Comets, as well as a poignant biography of Pluto-discoverer Clyde Tombaugh.

Dr. Keivan Stassun holds the Stevenson chair in Physics and Astronomy at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN).

A passionate leader and advocate for broadening participation in STEM, especially of underrepresented minorities and persons with disabilities, he currently serves as founding director of the Frist Center for Autism and Innovation in Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering.

In January of 2022, Dr. Stassun was appointed by President Joe Biden to serve on the National Science Board.

Mr. Tim Russ is best known for his role as Lieutenant Commander Tuvok in the TV series Star Trek: Voyager. Russ has been working as an actor, director and musician for the past thirty-five years.

His talents encompass a wide spectrum of the performing arts including composing, musical performances, writing, producing, directing, and he is an avid amateur astronomer.

Jena Dunham, DNP, APRN, FNP-C, PMHNP-BC, NREMT
Director of Medical Services
Pronouns: she, her, hers (What is this?)

Jena Dunham is a passionate amateur astronomer with a deep love for exploring the cosmos. She has enjoyed the community service offered at Powell Observatory since she was a young child and now gives back to this outstanding organization through her volunteer work where she has assisted with several projects and has served as member of the Board of Directors since June of 2022. She is also an avid amateur radio operator, utilizing her skills to communicate and connect with fellow enthusiasts worldwide.

In addition to their astronomical pursuits, Jena Dunham holds a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree, bringing a unique perspective to the intersection of healthcare and technology. Currently serving as the Director of Medical Services at Pawnee Mental Health Services, she is dedicated to improving patient care and promoting innovative medical practices.

Her diverse background and expertise allow her to bring valuable insights into the STEAM education and outreach programs she is involved in.

David McCallie, MD recently retired after a long career at Cerner, a medical software company here in KC, where he was SVP responsible for Medical Informatics. He was born in Chattanooga TN and moved to the KC area about 30 years ago. He has training in both medicine and engineering, but it was his interest in nature photography that led him to learn astrophotography. A colleague showed him his pictures of the Horsehead Nebula, and he was stunned that an amateur photographer could capture something so beautiful and so distant, so he was determined to learn how to do it himself!

He has been a member of the ASKC since 2019 and has served on the ASKC Board for the last several years. He enjoys using the telescopes at Powell Observatory to share the wonders of nature with the public

Stuart Riley, Ph.D Electrical Engineering, MIT
Member of Board of Directors at Large, ASKC
Warkoczewski Award holder

Stuart has lived in the Midwest central United States most of his life. He has lived in Kansas, Minnesota, Iowa, Texas, Arkansas and now Missouri.

Stuart has attended and participated in many astronomy clubs and has interests in double stars, variable stars, star clusters, solar sciences and planetary nebulae. He was the 2010 recipient of ASKC’s Helen A. Warkoczewski Award for “Outstanding Contributions to Astronomy.”  

He is a member of the Astronomy League through the ASKC, having joined in 1997. When he moved from Kansas to Arkansas, he was a part of the Sugar Creek Astronomical Society in northwest Arkansas and participated in community outreach programs, including teaching astronomy, the night skies and exploring our universe as nature and science ambassador. While in Arkansas, he participated with the Pittsburg State College observers, South Central Missouri Astronomers and Northwest Arkansas Star Gazers.

Following his move back to Kansas City, he became a member of the Warkoczewski Observatory staff in at UMKC in mid-town Kansas City. He enjoys outreach and teaching the public and interested students in searching and learning the night skies. 

William “Bill” Wren has been fascinated by the night sky all his life. He earned degrees in Philosophy and Educational Psychology at the University of Texas. He audited courses in the Astronomy Department, and was an academic tutor for undergraduate students in astronomy. 

In 1990, Bill started work at McDonald Observatory as a Public Affairs Specialist and part-time researcher, leading a search for extra-galactic supernovae. He also helped design and build several unique telescopes, one of which is wheelchair accessible and dedicated for public use at the Observatory’s Visitors Center. He was the Commissioning Telescope Operator of the 10-meter Hobby-Eberly Telescope. 

Bill has long been actively involved in protecting the Observatory’s dark night skies, an endeavor which became his full-time responsibility. His greatest satisfaction during his career at McDonald came from conveying the wonders of the universe to the tens of thousands of people who visit the site each year.

Bill retired in 2022 and relocated to his birthplace, Kansas City. 

 

Robert Reeves, an astronomy enthusiast since 1958, has dedicated his life to exploring the cosmos. His journey began with capturing lunar photographs in high school, leading to notable achievements such as winning a trip to the Johnson Space Center in 1965. Over the years, he’s honed his skills using various telescopes, including his cherished Celestron 8 acquired in 1975, and a Celestron 8-inch Schmidt camera used for deep-sky photography until 2002. Currently, he uses a Celestron 11 Edge HD and a Sky-Watcher 180mm Maksutov for lunar photography from his Perspective Observatory in central Texas, along with other telescopes for visual observation and deep-sky photography.

Reeves is not just an observer but also a prolific writer, with over 250 articles published in esteemed astronomy magazines and several authored books, including “The Superpower Space Race” and “Exploring the Moon with Robert Reeves“. His focus lies in demystifying lunar exploration, sharing insights on its history, evolution, and geology while pioneering techniques that empower amateur astronomers.

A sought-after speaker, Reeves has graced numerous astronomy events worldwide, including being the first Westerner to address China’s astronomy community. He also represents Celestron at astronomical conventions, furthering his commitment to popularizing astronomy.

Continuing his passion, Reeves shares daily lunar photographs and insights through “Postcards from the Moon”. His contributions to astronomy have been recognized with the naming of asteroid 26591 “Robertreeves” in his honor and 26592 “Maryrenfro” after his wife, making them the only husband-wife duo with sequentially numbered asteroids.