Distinguished Lecturers

MWT Associates is proud to introduce our lecturers

Bill Diamond

The SETI Institute, President and CEO

Bill Diamond

Bill Diamond is a technology executive and Silicon Valley veteran. He has over 20 years of experience in the photonics and optical communications industry, and a decade in X-ray and semiconductor processing technologies. His corporate background spans the spectrum from venture-backed start-ups to Fortune 100 multinationals, with responsibilities ranging from engineering and operations to sales, marketing, product management and CEO positions.
Most recently, Diamond was Vice President of Sales for Oclaro, Inc. where he led the company’s penetration in optical networking of the rapidly-evolving Web 2.0 Data Center market. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Product Management for optical amplifiers, ROADM, high bit-rate modules, and micro-optics at Oclaro, culminating in the successful divestiture of several of these businesses to II-VI.
Bill was CEO of WaveSplitter Technologies, raising over $75M in investment capital for the company’s development of optical waveguides in one of the world’s first 8-inch Silicon PLC wafer fabs. He also held CEO positions at DenseLight Semiconductor in Singapore, and Xradia, Inc, (now part of Zeiss) in Concord, California where he led a team that developed the world’s highest resolution X-ray microscopes, as well as manufacturing the only commercially available zone-plate lenses for focusing X-ray beams.
He spent 6 years with the Optoelectronics Business Unit of AT&T Microelectronics (subsequently Lucent Technologies) leading the company’s expansion into the fast-growing European market before returning to the US to head up marketing and product management globally. After AT&T, Mr. Diamond was part of the executive team for the successful IPO of E-Tek Dynamics and subsequent $15 billion sale of the company to JDSU. Prior to joining Oclaro in 2012, Bill spent 6 years as President of Comet Technologies; the US subsidiary of Comet A.G. in Switzerland, a manufacturer of RF Power supplies for semiconductor processing tools and X-ray sources and systems for industrial and security applications.
Bill Diamond holds a B.A. in physics from Holy Cross College and a masters in business administration from Georgetown University.

Frank Drake

Senior Scientist

Frank Drake

Dr. Frank Drake serves on the Board of Trustees of the SETI Institute.
In 1960, as a staff member of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, he conducted the first radio search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences where he chaired the Board of Physics and Astronomy of the National Research Council (1989-92). Frank also served as President of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. He was a Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University (1964-84) and served as the Director of the Arecibo Observatory.
He is Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California at Santa Cruz where he also served as Dean of Natural Sciences (1984-88).
In his spare time Frank enjoys cutting gem stones and growing orchids.
Frank has three grown sons and two daughters in college. Both daughters are superb ballet dancers.

Fred Espenak

Mr. Eclipse

Fred Espenak

Fred Espenak's career as a NASA astrophysicist at Goddard Space Flight Center spans more than 30 years. His primary research involves the infrared spectroscopy of planetary atmospheres although he is better known as NASA's eclipse expert Mr. Eclipse. Espenak is currently a scientist emeritus at Goddard and he maintains NASA's official eclipse web site (eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov) as well as his personal web site on eclipse photography (www.mreclipse.com). Fred has published numerous books and articles of eclipse predictions including the NASA Eclipse Bulletins series, and he is the co-author of the popular book Totality: Eclipses of the Sun. His magnum opus, the Five Millennium Canon of Solar Eclipses, includes a map of every solar eclipse occurring between 2000 BC and AD 3000.
Espenak's interest in eclipses was first sparked after witnessing a total solar eclipse in 1970. Since then, he has participated in 34 eclipse expeditions around the world including Antarctica. Fred's eclipse photographs have appeared in both national and international publications, and he has lectured extensively on the Sun, eclipses and photography. In 2003, the International Astronomical Union honored him for his work on eclipses by naming an asteroid Espenak. Fred now lives in rural Arizona, where he spends most clear nights losing sleep and photographing the stars (www.astropixels.com).

Dennis Mammana

Astronomy Author and Photographer, SkyScapes

Dennis Mammana

For nearly four decades, Dennis Mammana has shared the wonder and mystery of the cosmos with audiences around the world.
He received his B.A. in Physics & Astronomy from Otterbein College and his M.S. in Astronomy from Vanderbilt University, and was awarded a coveted one-year internship at the world-famous Strasenburgh Planetarium in Rochester, N.Y. He has held positions at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, the University of Arizona and San Diego's Reuben H. Fleet Science Center.
Mammana is the author of six books on astronomy, hundreds of popular magazine, encyclopedia and web articles and, since 1992, has written Stargazers, the only nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column on astronomy. His award-winning night sky photographs have been seen in print and electronic media, and have been shown in exhibitions around the world. He is an invited member of TWAN (The World at Night), a global team of the most highly acclaimed sky photographers on the planet. And as a dynamic public speaker, Mammana has entertained and informed audiences on six continents—at resorts, on cruise ships, as an after-dinner speaker, and on both radio and television.
Mammana lives and works in Southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert where he writes about—and photographs—the spectacular night sky. You can enjoy his work online at his website and on his Facebook page.

Chris McKay, PhD

Member, Mars Society
Planetary Scientist with the Space Science Division of NASA Ames

Chris McKay

Chris McKay received his Ph.D. in AstroGeophysics from the University of Colorado in 1982 and has been a research scientist with the NASA Ames Research Center since that time.
His current research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He is also actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human settlements.
Chris has been involved with polar research since 1980, traveling to the Antarctic dry valleys and more recently to the Siberian and Canadian Arctic to conduct research in these Mars-like environment.

Robert Naeye

Former Editor in Chief, Sky & Telescope

Robert Naeye

Robert Naeye is a former Editor in Chief of Sky & Telescope, the world’s most respected and influential popular astronomy magazine. Robert earned a master’s degree in science journalism from Boston University in 1992, and later worked on the editorial staffs of Discover and Astronomy magazine. He served as Editor in Chief of Mercury magazine (published by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific) from 2000 to 2003. He worked as a Senior Editor at Sky & Telescope from 2003 to 2007, before moving to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to work as a Senior Science Writer for the Astrophysics Science Division. He returned to Sky & Telescope in June 2008 to serve as Editor in Chief.
Robert is the author of two books: Through the Eyes of Hubble: The Birth, Life, and Violent Death of Stars (Kalmbach, 1997) and Signals from Space: The Chandra X-ray Observatory (Turnstone, 2000). He has contributed to two other books, and has won several awards for his writing and outreach activities. He has traveled four times to Hawaii and has visited all the populated islands except for Lanai and Niihau. He has also served as an astronomy lecturer on tours to Chile, Iceland, China, Australia, Easter Island, Iran, and Libya.

William Shehan

Contributing Editor, Sky & Telescope
Psychiatrist, consultant to PACT-4 Families Collaborative

William Shehan

William Sheehan is one of the world's leading students of the planet Mars. In June 2001, he and a team of observers in the Florida Keys predicted and observed Martian flares at Edom Promontorium, observations which have contributed an important chapter in the search for Martian water in near-equatorial regions. A major area of his astronomical interest has always been the history of and interpretation of visual observations of planetary markings such as those of Schiaparelli and Lowell of the "canals" of Mars.
Sheehan's first book, "Planets & Perception", published in 1988, was a Book-of-the-Year Selection of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Other critically acclaimed books include: "Worlds in the Sky" (1992), "The Immortal Fire Within: the life and work of Edward Emerson Barnard" (1995), and "In Search of Planet Vulcan" (1997).
Sheehan is a contributing editor to "Sky & Telescope" and to "Mercury" magazines. He is also a 2001 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, awarded for his work-in-progress: "The Structure and Evolution of the Milky Way Galaxy." In 2001-2002, he was a Visiting Research Associate at the Lick Observatory and a Visiting Professor of Astronomy at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
His current areas of research include traumatic brain injury using Single Photon Emission Computerized Tomography and Asperger's Syndrome. He has received international recognition for his work in brain-imaging. His recent research articles have appeared in the Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, New Zealand and Australian Journal of Psychiatry, the Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London. He won the career service award of the Minnesota Brain Injury Association in 2007. His psychiatric experiences have included serving as Head of Psychiatry in the Department of Neurosciences at the University of North Dakota and as a psychiatrist in Timaru, New Zealand. He has also consulted to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, Minnesota, Swift County-Benson Hospital (Benson, Minnesota), and VA Medical Center in Minneapolis. He received his M.D. degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School and his psychiatric training in the program in psychiatry at the University of Minnesota.
He is a member of The International Society for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry and The International Society for Clinical Psychology. Currently employed as head of the neurodevelopmental disorders program at the Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Hospital in Willmar, and as Medical Director of Geneva Medical Imaging.

Linda Shore, PhD

Executive Director, Astronomical Society of the Pacific

Linda Shore

Dr. Linda Shore is the Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Most recently, Shore served as Director of the Teacher Institute at San Francisco's renowned science museum, the Exploratorium. While there she led a staff of scientists and educators, and created nationally recognized teaching programs. She was also responsible for fund development, grants program, and expanding institutional reach by forging collaborations with national and international museums and science centers. Shore has co-authored Exploratorium science and education books, and written articles about popular science and science education for the public. A native San Franciscan who has spent most of her life in the Bay Area, she holds a PhD in science education from Boston University, and a master's degree in physics and astronomy from San Francisco State University. Shore was also the recipient of a prestigious Smithsonian Pre-doctoral Fellowship to work at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics where she developed curriculum and conducted research on astronomy learning for the National Science Foundation funded program, Project STAR (Science Teaching through its Astronomical Roots).

Seth Shostak, PhD

Public Programs Scientist and Senior Astronomer, SETI Institute

Seth Shostak

Dr. Seth Shostak claims to have developed an interest in extraterrestrial life at the tender age of ten, when he first picked up a book about the solar system. This innocent beginning eventually led to a degree in radio astronomy, and now, as Senior Astronomer, Shostak is an enthusiastic participant in the Institute’s SETI observing programs. He also heads up the International Academy of Astronautics’ SETI Permanent Study Group.
In addition, Shostak is keen on outreach activities: interesting the public – and especially young people – in science in general, and astrobiology in particular. He’s co-authored a college textbook on astrobiology, and continues to write trade books on SETI. In addition, he’s published nearly 300 popular articles on science, gives many dozens of talks annually, and is the host of the SETI Institute’s weekly science radio show, “Are We Alone?” Shostak's latest book is "Confessions of an Alien Hunter : A Scientist's Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence" ( National Geographic ).
Dr. Shostak is host of radio's "Big Picture Science."

Mark Showalter, PhD

Senior Research Scientist, SETI Institute

Seth Shostak

Planetary astronomer Mark Showalter is rabid about rings. While everyone knows about Saturn’s spectacular ring system, it’s often forgotten that Jupiter, Uranus, and Neptune are also encircled by fainter and narrower rings. Each of these systems interacts closely with a family of small, inner moons. Showalter works on some of NASA’s highest-profile missions to the outer planets, including Cassini, now orbiting Saturn, and New Horizons, which flew past Jupiter en route to its 2015 encounter with Pluto. He has even searched for the rings of Mars, although so far with no success. Known for his persistence in planetary image analysis, Mark's work on the earlier Voyager mission led to his discovery of Jupiter’s faint, outer “gossamer” rings and Saturn’s tiny ring-moon, Pan.
Mark was recently granted three more years to study the system of rings and moons orbiting Uranus with the Hubble Space Telescope. He has been leading a team of astronomers in this investigation off and on since 2002. This work has already led to the discovery of two small moons and two faint rings. He enjoyed the opportunity to name the moons "Mab" and "Cupid," after characters from Shakespeare's plays. For the next few years, he hopes that this work will illuminate the subtle interactions at work within a dense pack of moons and rings that circle the planet. The system shows signs of chaotic motion, which means that the orbits are slightly unpredictable and collisions between moons can occur on time scales as short as one million years. That may sound like a long time, but it is astonishingly short for a system that is more than 4 billion years old.
Rings and the faint moons that interact with them are more than just local anomalies. They serve as dynamical laboratories where we can observe some of the same processes that operate, albeit on much larger scales, in galaxies and during the formation of planetary systems.

Marcie Smith

Mission Director, Kepler Mission
Mission Operations in the Space Projects Division at NASA Ames Research Center

Marcie Smith

Marcie Smith received her masters in Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering at Stanford University in 1980 and has been fortunate to have worked in unmanned planetary science flight operations ever since. She began as a flight operations engineer for the Pioneer program, and has managed flight operations for Galileo Probe, Lunar Prospector and Gravity Probe B. She is currently the Mission Director for the Kepler mission. Kepler is designed to survey a portion of our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover dozens of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets.
Marcie is also a private pilot and flies a Cessna 182. She is an active member of the 99s – the International Organization of Women Pilots, and whenever she can flies for Angel Flight, an organization where private pilots use their airplanes to fly patients to medical appointments.

Rich Talcott

Senior Editor, Astronomy magazine

Rich Talcott

Senior Editor Rich Talcott brings to the magazine a lifelong interest in the science of astronomy as well as observing the night sky. He graduated from Marietta College in Marietta, Ohio, in 1976 with a degree in Mathematics. After attending graduate school at Ohio State, Rich returned to Marietta in the early 1980s as a Lecturer in the Physics Department. He joined the staff of Astronomy in early 1986 and hasn't looked back.
Rich edits the Sky This Month section in the center of Astronomy as well as science and hobby features. In addition, he has written more than one hundred feature articles for the magazine. He also creates most of the star charts you see in Astronomy as well as the maps that appeared in Atlas of the Stars . Each year, he produces Astronomy's beautiful Deep Space Mysteries calendar.
In collaboration with Joel Harris, Rich authored Chasing the Shadow: An Observer's Guide to Eclipses. He has witnessed six total solar eclipses and hopes to add many more to the total.

Michelle Thaller, PhD

Research Scientist,
California Institute of Technology

Michelle Thaller

Dr. Michelle Thaller is a research scientist at the California Institute of Technology who divides her time between astronomical research and public education. Originally from Waukesha, Wisconsin, Michelle obtained a Bachelor's degree in astrophysics from Harvard University. Specializing in high-resolution velocity measurements of binary stars, her honors thesis laid some of the ground work for the recent detection of planets around other stars. In 1997, Michelle obtained a Ph.D. from Georgia State University. Michelle's dissertation work included the first-ever detection of a "stripped core sub-dwarf" (a star that has been almost completely stripped of its outer envelope by the gravitational pull of a companion star) as well as the discovery and characterization of the phenomenon of colliding stellar winds in several massive binary star systems.
During her research, Michelle has used both ground and space-based telescopes, including Kitt Peak National Observatory, Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories (in Australia), the International Ultraviolet Explorer, the Hubble Space Telescope, and ROSAT. She is currently a senior scientist on the Spitzer Space Telescope, a satellite that views the universe entirely through infrared, or "heat" light.
Michelle dedicates more than half her time to public education and outreach, and acts as one of the spokespeople for Spitzer and other NASA missions at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Michelle has been featured in numerous media programs, including three documentaries on NASA science that are playing at the National Air and Space Museum, an educational program about finding new planets that is playing at the Rose Center of the Museum of Natural History, and a video infrared demonstration showing at the Adler Planetarium and the Boston Museum of Science. She has appeared on PBS's Life and Times program, and has been featured on the Discovery Channel several times, as well as National Public Radio. Michelle has also given several high-profile lectures at JPL, including the distinguished Von Karman lecture three times. In print, Michelle has written features for Discovery and Mercury magazines, and is a nationally distributed columnist for the Christian Science Monitor.