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FY14-15 Board of Directors Nominations

The Nominations Committees of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific have announced that the following individuals have agreed to stand for election to the ASP Board of Directors. Three seats are up for election in 2014.

The current list of candidates for the three seats are, in alphabetical order:

Gibor Basri
Professor of Astronomy
UC Berkeley

Michael Devirian
Program Area Manger

Pamela Gay
Astronomer, Educator, Podcaster & Writer
Southern Illinois University

Philip Sadler, Ed.D
F.W. Wright Senior Lecturer in the Department of Astronomy
Director, Science Education Department
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

The ASP extends its thanks and good wishes to all of board candidates. The election will commence May 1 via online balloting, with an email alert plus link to ballot site sent to active ASP members. Hard copy ballots will be mailed to those who request one. To request a paper ballot, email asilva {at} or call 1-800-335-2624 (U.S.) or 415-337-1100 (outside the U.S.). However you vote, all ballots must be submitted/sent to the ASP no later than July 15, 2014.

Gibor Basri received his PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1979. An award of a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellowship brought him to UC Berkeley that year, where he joined the faculty of the Astronomy Department in 1982. He has worked on stellar magnetic activity and low mass stars (including the Sun) throughout his career. He was an active user of the Lick and Keck Observatories as well as a number of space telescopes. He was a pioneer in the discovery and study of magnetospheric accretion onto newly forming stars. He was a co-discoverer of brown dwarfs, and found and helped characterize the death of stellar chromospheres at the bottom of the main sequence. He has pioneered several means of directly measuring stellar magnetic fields, and studied their role in the angular momentum history of stars and brown dwarfs. Recently he has been utilizing stellar data from the Kepler mission to learn more about starspots. Back on Earth, he will soon step down from several years as the founding Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion at UC Berkeley.

He writes: I have been a member of the ASP since coming to California, and have written articles for PASP and Mercury as well as in conference proceedings. I very much enjoy giving talks to groups of amateur astronomers, and was an early participant in Project Astro. I believe that astronomy is a natural “gateway” to science for young people, who almost uniformly show interest in it at young ages. Both amateurs and professionals could more fully exploit that. I have been particularly interested in using Astronomy to broaden the diversity of our profession as well as the other sciences. This was the main reason I served for years on the Board of the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland. It is clear that the current levels of participation by what is an increasingly large fraction of our population (underrepresented minorities) in science is woefully inadequate, and that this is a matter of concern both for the sciences and our nation at large. The general support of the public for basic research is also seemingly increasingly at risk, and again Astronomy has an important role to play in shoring it up. The ASP has outreach to everyone as a natural part of its mission, and I would love to work within it in these important arenas.

Michael Devirian is recently retired as the NASA Program Manager for the Exoplanet Exploration Program, sponsor of the Night Sky Network coordinated by ASP. He is a member of the Standing Review Board for NASA’s Physics of the Cosmos and Cosmic Origins Programs. He worked in a wide range of planetary science, earth science and astrophysics missions in 47 years with NASA/JPL, including Director of Space Flight Operations for Voyager for which he received the NASA Outstanding Leadership medal, Wide Field Planetary Camera II for which he received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and numerous lunar and planetary missions. He currently serves on the UC Riverside Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and endows a Physics Student Award for students from underserved groups. He is a Special Exhibits Docent at the Huntington Library with its mission of public education. He is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the ASP.

He writes: Of all the ways in which we can make the world a better place, I believe that one of the highest leverage approaches is expanding the reach and increasing the draw of science, technology and math education – exactly what ASP is committed to. I was delighted a few years ago to be approached with the idea for the Night Sky Network and readily allocated funding to enable ASP to run it, thus leveraging the energy and interests of amateur astronomers around the country to spread the appreciation of astronomy. Since starting volunteer work at the Huntington Library, I have seen the beauty of the interweaving of science, culture and history through the exhibits there, and the power that combination has to engage the interest of touring students. Working with UCRiverside has shown me the importance of their commitment to working with underserved groups and students who are first generation to attend a university. If I am given the opportunity, I believe what I can bring to the ASP Board is my experience with NASA’s programs and funding methods for astronomy and education, and my relationships with the Huntington, UCR, JPL and other institutions to help formulate and fund programs to fulfil ASP mission.

Pamela L. Gay is an assistant research professor in the Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. She received her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Texas Austin and has worked as an astronomer, writer, and podcaster. Her most recent work has focused on using new media to engage people in learning and doing astronomy. She is the director of, a virtual research facility that provides the public access to opportunities normally only available to professional researchers, including the chance to work on citizen science projects that support MESSENGER, Dawn, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and other NASA missions. Her most well known project may be Astronomy Cast, a podcast she co-hosts with Fraser Cain (Publisher of Universe Today). Each week, Astronomy Cast takes their listeners on a facts-based journey through the cosmos that explores not only what we know about the universe, but how we know it. In addition to podcasting, she also works to communicate astronomy to the public through her blog, through frequent public talks, and through popular articles. Her writing has appeared in Astronomy, Sky and Telescope, and Lightspeed magazines, and she has made appearances on the History Channel’s The Universe and National Geographic’s Top Secrets.

She writes: We live in a time of great change, where astronomy and space exploration are driving forces behind innovations in computational, aeronautical, and imaging technologies. These developments are inspiring a new generation to see themselves as part of humanity’s future in space, but that imagined future will require a scientifically literate population to be fully realized. The space and astronomy communities will require STEM educated employees to thrive, and society as a whole needs people to enact public policies that favor astronomy and space development. The Astronomical Society of the Pacific, with its international reach and its numerous global partnerships is positioned to enact and support the educational and research activities that are needed. I want to be part of building this more scientifically literate future as a board member of the ASP. I will bring to the board of the ASP my passion for public engagement in science and my experience working with the global astronomy education community through the International Year of Astronomy and with the IAU Commission 55, Communicating Astronomy to the Public. By working together, and acting globally while thinking cosmically, we can use astronomy and space science to develop our world.

Philip Sadler first earned a B.S. in Physics from MIT in 1973 while co-authoring a textbook on introductory calculus. He then taught middle school science, engineering, and mathematics for several years. During this time, he developed the Starlab portable planetarium, which has since brought the night sky to tens of millions of school children, worldwide. In 1981, he began his involvement with Apple Computer Inc., authoring their first product training course, creating their first analysis of competing products, and expanding their distribution network. He returned to academia earning a doctorate in education from Harvard in 1992. Dr. Sadler has taught Harvard’s courses for hundreds of students preparing to be science teachers and for the next generation of science professors. As F.W. Wright Senior Lecturer in Astronomy, he carries on Harvard’s oldest undergraduate course in science, Celestial Navigation. He currently directs the Science Education Department at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Dr. Sadler’s research program has included the assessment of students’ astronomical misconceptions and how they change with instruction, the development of the MicroObservatory network of automated telescopes that allow K-12 students to engage in research, and curriculum development in astronomy and the physical sciences. He has served on editorial boards for several education research journals and advisory boards for the American Educational Research Association and the American Astronomical Society. Dr. Sadler won the Journal of Research in Science Teaching Award for work on assessing student understanding in science, given yearly for “the most significant contribution to science education research.” He won both the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Brennan Prize for contributions to astronomy teaching and Project ASTRO’s Astronomy Education Recognition Award. His team has been awarded the Computers in Physics Prize by the American Institute of Physics three times. Dr. Sadler was awarded the 2010 American Astronomical Society Education Prize and in 2012, he won the Millikan Medal of the American Association of Physics Teachers for his “notable and intellectually creative contributions to the teaching of physics.”

He writes: The ASP has long been an important player in science education and astronomy education through its journals, conferences, and workshops. Its Astroshop has become an essential resource for educators of children and adults, making high-quality products available at a low cost. As a speaker at ASP conferences, author of articles, and developer of many astronomical teaching aids, I am honored to be asked to be a candidate for the Board of Directors. I look forward to helping the ASP expand it product offerings and marketing, employ the technology of robotic observatories to engage a whole new generation of telescope users, and support young professional astronomers in their public speaking and outreach activities. ASP’s unique expertise and membership offer the wealth of possibilities for the securing of grants through NASA and the National Science Foundation, a process that I enjoy and in which am experienced. I will work hard to secure resources to expand ASP’s activities and strengthen its current programs to bring the wonders of astronomy into the schools, homes, and public venues of the nation and the world.