PlanetQuest People

Some of the research that is going into PlanetQuest dates back almost two decades, before the first extrasolar planets were discovered. We are also advised by a panel of world-renowned experts in science and education. We are glad to have you on board for a great adventure. Meet the crew!

Dr. Laurance Doyle, President

Laurance Doyle is a Principal Investigator at the SETI Institute, codirector of the TEP (Transit of Extrasolar Planets) observing network, codesigner (with Hans Deeg and Jon Jenkins) of the Transit Detection Algorithm (TDA) PlanetQuesters will be using (which was also adopted by the NASA Kepler Spacecraft Mission for confirming the detection of extrasolar planets), a coinvestigator on the NSF Vulcan South Project and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias PASS project, and a consultant on stellar spectral classification to the NASA Kepler mission. He developed two new photometric extrasolar planet detection methods—an extension of the triple star system detection method known as the eclipsing binary timing method (with Deeg) and the reflected light phase method (with Jenkins). He teaches a class called "Life in the Universe" at the University of California at Santa Cruz and lectures widely.

Brad Silen, Executive Director

Brad Silen has been a part of many successful software ventures over his twenty years of experience in software management. Brad brings a special brilliance to interactive design, working to develop the original SETI@home interface as well as for clients including Berkeley Systems, Sun, and Apple.

Dr. Robert Slawson, Observing Astronomer and Image Processing Astronomer

Robert Slawson is a Research Scientist with the Rochester Institute of Technology and advisor to Kodak on CCD imaging systems and their application to astronomy. He has had wide experience in the classification of stars, precision photometry, and astronomical data reduction procedures. He has been a staff astronomer at the Carnegie Foundation’s La Silla Observatory in Chile for several years.

Ellen Blue, Publications Director

Ellen Blue founded and operates Travis House Publications in Menlo Park, CA and is the publisher of Circumstellar Habitable Zones, a NASA conference proceedings on the detection and characterization of environments for life in the universe. She has been a senior staff editor/production manager at SRI International/SRI Consulting, has worked as a contract editor, and has compiled, designed, and edited print and Web-based newsletters as well as research publications for the chemical industry. She is a coauthor of several scientific journal articles and conference proceedings on the search for extrasolar planets and has assisted in long-time-line photometric observations to detect extrasolar planets at the University of California’s Lick Observatory.

Dr. Craig Linberg, Signal Detection and Transit Algorithm Scientist

Craig Linberg specializes in subnoise detection and signal estimation theory. He has developed various models of transit detection algorithms based on varying sampling rates. He is in charge of the development of statistical tests to assure planet detection reliability.

Jeremy Crandell, Chairman, Board of Directors

Jeremy Crandell works with arts and science nonprofits in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was a producer at America Online, cofounded the BrightMail Anti-Spam System now a part of Symantec, Inc., and is actively involved on the board of The Crucible, an industrial arts center in Oakland, California. He obtained his degree in Political Science and Russian language studies from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois.

Dr. Zoran Ninkov, Member, Board of Directors

Zoran Ninkov is a Professor in the Center for Imaging Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, a coinvestigator on the NSF Vulcan South Project, and a founder of the instrumentation company PixelPhysics (now GSI) in Rochester, New York. His interests include developing and studying new detectors and novel instruments. Recent instrument developments have been a speckle camera (RITSY) for use at the WIYN telescope, and a multiobject spectrometer (RITMOS) that utilizes a MEMS mirror array.

Dr. Doug Caldwell, Observing Astronomer

Douglas Caldwell is a Principal Investigator with the SETI Institute and a Principal Investigator with the NSF Vulcan South Project, a telescope to detect transiting extrasolar planets from the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. He is also Instrument Scientist on the NASA Kepler mission and served as the interim director of the Science Operations Center for this mission.

Dr. Hans Deeg, Observing Astronomer and Image Processing Astronomer

Hans-Jörg Deeg is codirector of the TEP (Transit of Extrasolar Planets) observing network, an astrophysicist with the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), Spain, and Principal Investigator for the IAC PASS (Permanent All-Sky Survey) project to detect extrasolar planets. Together with L. Doyle he developed the eclipsing binary minimum timing method for detecting planets around close binary stars.

Dr. Jon Jenkins, Signal Detection Astronomer

Jon Jenkins is a coinvestigator with the NASA Kepler mission to detect Earthlike planets in the circumstellar habitable zones of sunlike stars, and a Principal Investigator with the SETI Institute. He is in charge of transit signal detection and confirmation algorithms for this $400 million wide-angle orbiting telescope mission. Together with L. Doyle he developed the phase-reflection method for detecting giant inner planets around dwarf-type stars.

Dr. David Carico, Senior Physicist and Education Program Manager

David Carico holds a BS in engineering physics from UC Berkeley and a PhD in physics from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he studied infrared galaxies. He has taught physics and astronomy for fifteen years at various institutions, from small private colleges to large state universities. He is the author of an innovative physics textbook for high school students, and is currently developing an introductory college astronomy textbook and a quantum mechanics book for sixth graders. He is investigating (with Doyle) quantum limits on observations of gravitational lensing, and teaches part-time at both San Francisco State University and Santa Rosa Junior College.

David Rowland, Collaboratory Development Director

David Rowland holds a BS in electrical engineering from UC Berkeley and an MS in mathematics from the University of Washington. He has made a career in software, principally in real-time control systems and telecommunications, but ranging over many other areas. He has held senior management positions at several San Francisco Bay Area technology companies, managing commercial software product development. He teaches computer science courses at the University of California Extension.

Charlie Fenton, Collaboratory Programmer

Charlie Fenton brings forty years of experience in software design and implementation to PlanetQuest. In addition to creating the Macintosh GUI and screen saver for SETI@home classic, he contributed extensively to its implementation and maintenance across all supported platforms. Currently part of the UC Berkeley BOINC development team, he has written software for Apple Computer and others

Neil Heather, Database/System Administrator

Neil Heather is a database manager in charge of the Ring Imaging Center for the NASA Cassini Orbiter Mission to the Saturn planetary system. He has been a programming and web design/access specialist with NASA Ames Research Center for over a decade.