Dr. Steve B. Howell, chief scientist of the planet-hunting Kepler mission and the scientific brains behind the still-operating K2 mission. Steve is now the head of the Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division at the NASA Ames Research Center. He received his PhD in astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam and has over 900 scientific publications spanning research on variable stars, instrumentation, spectroscopy, and exoplanets. He has written or contributed to numerous scientific books including the now standard textbook on digital imaging detectors in astronomy. Additionally, he has edited and contributed to two science fiction book collections related to exoplanets: "A Kepler's Dozen” and "Kepler's Cowboys.” A frequently invited speaker at scientific conferences and public forums, Steve enjoys sharing astronomy with the people of Earth. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area with his partner Sally and enjoys scientific challenges, the great outdoors, vegetarian gourmet cooking, and playing blues music. And yes, he still considers Pluto a planet.
Dr. Gary Blackwood is the Director of NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. He earned his BS, MS and PhD from MIT in aeronautical and astronautical engineering. Gary lives in Altadena, California and was recently featured at Pasadena's Astronomy on Tap. He enjoys the California wine country with his wife Edna, and is an avid thru-hiker on the John Muir Trail of the Sierra Nevada.