Brad Smith is a retired professor of planetary science. He has served as an associate professor of astronomy at New Mexico State University, a professor of planetary sciences and astronomy at the University of Arizona, and as a research astronomer at the University of Hawaii. Through his interest in Solar System astronomy, he has participated as a team member or imaging team leader on several U.S. and international space missions, including Mars Mariners 6, 7, and 9; Viking; Voyagers 1 and 2; and the Soviet Vega and Phobos missions. He later turned his interest to extrasolar planetary systems, investigating circumstellar debris disks as a member of the Hubble Space Telescope NICMOS experiment team. Brad has four times been awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement. He is a member of the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature and is Chair of the Task Group for Mars Nomenclature.
George Blumenthal is chancellor at the University of California-Santa Cruz, where he has been a professor of astronomy and astrophysics since 1972. He received his BS degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his PhD in physics from the University of California-San Diego. As a theoretical astrophysicist, George's research encompasses several broad areas, including the nature of the dark matter that constitutes most of the mass in the universe, the origin of galaxies and other large structures in the universe, the earliest moments in the universe, astrophysical radiation processes, and the structure of active galactic nuclei such as quasars. Besides teaching and conducting research, he has served as Chair of the UC-Santa Cruz Astronomy and Astrophysics Department, has chaired the Academic Senate for both the UC-Santa Cruz campus and the entire University of California system, and has served as the faculty representative to the UC Board of Regents.
Stacy Palen received her bachelor's degree from Rutgers University in 1993 and her PhD from the University of Iowa in 1998. Upon graduation she spent four years as a post-doc/lecturer at the University of Washington, where she taught introductory astronomy 20 times in four years. This experience enabled her to really focus on students' conceptual difficulties with the course material, and experiment with ways to address them. Her astronomical research has focused on multi-wavelength studies of dying sun-like stars. She has also conducted research in the teaching and learning of astronomy, and served on multiple national committees that promote astronomy through education and public outreach. Currently, she is an Associate Professor at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah. In addition to the usual professorial duties, she also runs the Ott Planetarium, an astronomy outreach center that produces planetarium content for all ages. She lives on a small farm with her husband, two dogs, two dairy goats, four horses, and an ever-changing number of chickens.