About the Speakers of AbGradCon 2012

Career Panel Speakers

John Johnson
California Institute of Technology, Astronomy Department, Assistant Professor

Research Interests

  • The detection of planets around other stars (exoplanets) using high-precision Doppler measurements and transit photometry
  • Studying the relationships between the physical properties of stars and the occurrence of planets
  • The characterization of exoplanet spin-orbit angles
  • The characterization of transiting exoplanets using high-cadence photometry
  • Doppler follow-up of transiting planet candidates in the NASA Kepler mission target field to measure planet masses and orbital characteristics
  • Characterizing the stellar properties of M-type dwarf stars using broad-band photometry and high-resolution spectroscopy
  • Developing new instrumentation for the detection and characterization of exoplanets
  • Education

    University of California, Berkeley

  • Ph.D. Astrophysics May 2007
  • Thesis: Planet Hunting In New Stellar Domains
  • Advisor: Geoffrey W. Marcy
  • M.A. Astrophysics December 2002
  • University of Missouri-Rolla

  • B.S. Physics December 1999
  • Employment History

  • Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, California Institute of Technology, 2009-present
  • NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, 2007-2009
  • Research Scientist, LIGO Project, California Institute of Technology, Jan 2000 – August 2000
  • John Johnson

    Amy Mainzer
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, WISE Deputy Project Scientist

    Research Interests

  • Asteroids, brown dwarfs, planetary atmospheres, debris disks, star formation
  • Design and construction of novel instrumentation for ground and space
  • Education

    University of California, Los Angeles

  • Ph.D. Astronomy, 2003
  • California Institute of Technology

  • M.Sc. Astronomy, 2001
  • Stanford University

  • B.Sc. Honors Physics, 1995
  • Current Projects

  • WISE - Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) is a four-channel, super-cooled infrared telescope designed to survey the entire sky with 1,000 times more sensitivity than previous infrared missions.
  • Spitzer - The Spitzer Space Telescope (formerly SIRTF, the Space Infrared Telescope Facility) was launched into space by a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida on 25 August 2003.
  • Professional Experience

  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Astrophysics and Space Sciences Section (2003-present)
    1. Principal Scientist (2012-Present)
      Principal Investigator, Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam), a proposed Discovery mission selected for technology development funding in 2011
      Deputy Project Scientist, Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)
      Principal Investigator, NEOWISE, an enhancement to the WISE data processing pipeline that will facilitate solar system science, including discovery of new asteroids with WISE
  • Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center (1995-2003)
    1. Principal Investigator, Pointing Calibration & Reference Sensor (PCRS) for Spitzer Space Telescope. The PCRS is the Observatory's fine guidance sensor, and it has been operational on-orbit since 2003.

    Amy Mainzer

    Luke Dubord
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Avionics System Engineer

    Luke Dubord is an Avionics System Engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is currently the cross cutting infrastructure and autonomous fault protection lead on the Mars Science Laboratory mission that successfully landed on August 5th. Prior to working in fault protection, Luke was a member of the MSL Assembly, Test, and Launch Operations (ATLO) team, and worked on many aspects of the MSL computer and power systems, including being the lead system engineer for the development of the MSL pyrotechnics system. Luke was the system engineer on console for both MSL launch and Entry Descent and Landing, and was quite pleased that every pyrotechnic device fired correctly to land Curiosity on Mars! Prior to MSL, Luke also worked on numerous mission proposal teams at JPL performing mission concept development. Luke received his bachelors in 2003 from the University of Washington and his Masters in 2005 from Stanford, both in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering with a focus in Dynamics and Controls.

    Luke Dubord

    Julie Rathbun
    University of Redlands, Dept. of Physics, Associate Professor


    Cornell University

  • Ph.D. Astronomy, 2000
  • M.Sc. Astronomy, 1997
  • State University of New York at Buffalo

  • B.Sc. Physics, 1994
  • Research Interests

    I have been using Galileo Photopolarimeter-Radiometer (PPR) and ground-based data to study volcanism on Jupiter's moon, Io. Io is the most volcanically active body in the Solar System, putting out more than 40 times the amount of energy that the Earth does. (And Io is only about the size of our moon!) I’m currently using data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft to study Io and finishing a study of Jupiter’s moon Europa using PPR data.

    Julie Rathbun

    Banquet Speaker

    Shawn Domagal-Goldman

    Shawn Domagal-Goldman

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory Day Speakers

    Rob Manning
    "Updates from MSL"

    Rob Manning is Chief Engineer for the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) project and is a JPL Engineering Fellow. Rob began his career at JPL designing and testing spacecraft electronics for missions like Galileo, Magellan and Cassini. In the 1990's, Rob was the Mars Pathfinder chief engineer. Afterward he co-conspired the idea to modify Pathfinder to become the MER Spirit and Opportunity rovers. He also led the system engineering for MER, and lead MER's Entry, Descent and Landing team. After MER he became the Mars Program Chief Engineer. As a result of his good luck at JPL, Rob has received two NASA medals and is in the Aviation Week Magazine Space Laureate Hall of Fame in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. In 2004, “SpaceNews” magazine named Rob as one of 100 people who made a difference in civil, commercial and military space since 1989. Rob is a graduate of Caltech and Whitman College where he studied math, physics, computer science, and control systems. He makes his home in La Canada with his wife Dominique and their daughter, Caline.

    Rob Manning

    Karla Clark
    “Getting Flight Missions to Flight”

    Karla Clark received her bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering from Rice University in Houston, Texas. After graduation, Ms. Clark worked at Hughes Aircraft Company developing flight batteries for communications satellites. Ms. Clark continued her education and received master’s degrees in both mechanical engineering and engineering management from the University of Southern California. In 1987, Ms. Clark joined JPL where she has held numerous technical and managerial roles. Her primary technical roles included system engineering efforts for the Cassini Power System and Outer Planets/Solar Probe Project. Her management roles have ranged from Task Manager for the Flight Battery Research; Power System Technical Manager for Cassini; Power Electronics Engineering Group Supervisor; Flight System Manager for the Europa Orbiter; Spacecraft Manager and Contract Technical Manager for the Prometheus Project and study lead for the NASA Europa Explorer Flagship Mission. Currently, Karla serves as the Division Manager for Mission Assurance.

    Karla Clark

    Mark Allen & Pat Beauchamp
    "Titan as a Prebiotic Chemical System"

    Mark Allen

    Mark Allen is a Principal Scientist in the Science Division at JPL. He received a B.A. in chemistry from Columbia in 1971 and a Ph.D. in chemistry from Caltech in 1976. For over 40 years, he has been studying the chemistry of most Solar System atmospheres, including the Earth and comets, and the chemistry of interstellar molecular clouds, through computer model simulations, observations, and laboratory measurements. He is the Principal Investigator for NASA Astrobiology Institute JPL-Titan team. Most recently, until NASA cancelled its participation, he was the US Project Scientist for the joint ESA-NASA 2016 ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.

    Pat Beauchamp
    Pat has been at JPL since for 20 years in a variety of technical and project leadership positions. She is currently managing the Technology Task in support of the Planetary Science Division at NASA HQ. She is also Co-I and lead for the surface chemistry theme on a NAI Titan award and manages the JPL effort to develop instrumentation that will determine the composition and structure of organics on Titan’s surface and in the atmosphere. She holds a Ph. D. in Chemistry from Caltech.

    Mark Allen

    Pat Beauchamp

    Isik Kanik
    "Astrobiology of Icy Worlds"

    Research Interests

  • Laboratory Spectroscopy: UV emission, laser spectroscopy, mass spectroscopy, ionization techniques) relevant to planetary atmospheres and astrophysical plasmas
  • In situ Instrumentation/Detection Techniques: Miniature mass spectrometers and ion mobility spectrometry, differential Mobility spectrometry, sample extraction, sample handling techniques and detection
  • Professional Experience

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. (1995 - Present)

  • Senior Research Scientist (2006 – Present)
  • Section Manager, Planetary and Life Detection Section (over 120 Ph. D. Scientists) (2004 – 2009)
  • Principal Scientist (2002-Present)
  • Lead Scientist, Instrument Development and Spectroscopy Research Element (2001 – 2004)
  • Research Scientist and Team Leader, The Atomic and Molecular Collision Research Element (1995-2001)
  • Scientist (1992 - 1995)
  • National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council Research Associate, (1990 - 1992)

    Adjunct Professor of Physics, California State University, Fullerton, (1996-Present)

    Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA, (1988-1989)


  • Ph.D. in Physics, University of California, Riverside, California, USA (1988)

  • Isik Kanik