Introducing this year's keynote speakers




7:00 pm – 8:00 pm


David Davisson was introduced to astronomy by his father, Corbin Davisson, who was very instrumental in providing him with a great scientific background and a desire for more knowledge.  Satellites were the first objects he recalled seeing, as he and his dad used to watch and count them as they crossed the night sky. It was exciting to him, as none of his friends had ever seen a satellite.  While growing up in West Virginia, many family vacations consisted of visits to the Green Bank Observatory.  Each time they toured the observatory, David dreamed about getting to use one of the radio telescopes.

 As he grew older and became a ham radio operator, his love of radios helped him get into radio astronomy.  David built a Radio Jove kit and antenna and another antenna used for meteor detection.  Visually, he uses a 10” Meade LXD75 reflector and his father’s 8” Meade LX200 SCT.  David has had many opportunities to visit the NRAO facility in West Virginia, where he has taken classes and met with other Radio Jove folks.

In an effort to become a NASA Educator, he has attended and taught at SEEC (Space Exploration Educators Conference) in Houston at NASA for many years. David teaches astronomy and Gateway to Technology, a NASA STEM program.  In this program his students learn pre engineering, robotics, 3D Cad drawing, and environmental science.  In 2015 David had the opportunity to work with NASA as an Educational Mission Specialist on the SOFIA mission.  He is a member of several astronomy clubs, notably the Norman North Astronomy Club, OKC Astronomy Club, and the Central Appalachian Astronomy Club, all of which host public star parties each year.  He assists in astronomy observation sessions and star parties with his students and would love to visit several large observatories when he retires.

David and his wife Nancy reside in Moore, Oklahoma where both are teachers in the Public School System.  Their son Andrew, who is a micro biologist and forensic scientist, is married to Sarah who is a public school music teacher.  In his spare time, David and his family enjoy traveling, backpacking, and camping.  All of these activities give David plenty of time to do what he enjoys the most….star gazing!


Dr. Michelle Shinn – Keynote


7:00 pm – 8:00 pm



Michelle Shinn was born and raised in Oklahoma, and received her Physics degrees at Oklahoma State University.  After receiving her PhD, she joined Lawrence Livermore National Lab in 1984, working in the Laser (Y) Division, until 1990, when she left to join the faculty at Bryn Mawr College as an Associate Professor of Physics.  In 1995, she started at Jefferson Lab as a staff scientist. From 1996-1999, she led the design, procurement, and installation activities for the IR Demo free-electron laser (FEL) optical cavity, transport and diagnostics, and from 1999 to 2006 performed the same duties on the Upgrade FEL, which is still the world’s highest power tunable ultrafast laser.  For her work at Jefferson Lab and earlier work on the use of lasers in society, in 2012 she was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society.  In August of 2013 she started a 1 year assignment at the DOE Office of Nuclear Physics Facilities and Project Management Division, and finding she liked the environment, joined the Office in January of 2016.  She is the Program Manager for Industrial Concepts, responsible for the NP Small Business Innovative Research program and is working to strengthen ties with industry in order to foster the development of commercial applications from nuclear physics research.





FRIDAY- JULY 8, 2016

7:00 pm – 8:00 pm


Photo by Kyle Cassidy

Mark ‘Indy’ Kochte had always been interested in space and astronomy since he was a kid. To that end, he pursued a degree in Astronomy & Physics from the Ohio State University, and in 1988 joined the Space Telescope Science Institute prior to launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, where he was instrumental in performing the data processing and archiving for Hubble. After 17 years of this fun, he took a position on the FUSE (Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer) mission to tackle the unique challenges of planning and scheduling of the ailing ultraviolet-viewing space telescope. In 2006 he was given the opportunity to hop aboard the MESSENGER mission as a Payload & Mission Operations Specialist, sequencing critical instrument and spacecraft commanding until the spacecraft’s sudden and ultimate end impact-on-Mercury fate on April 30th, 2015. Late summer 2014, he also became involved with the New Horizons mission as a Mission Analyst to take over the command sequencing of the Solar Wind Around Pluto (SWAP) plasma spectrometer and simulation runs of the spacecraft command loads. More recently Indy has become involved in identifying ancient deltas and alluvial fans on Mars from the analysis of data products from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer (CRISM), an instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and working on verification of carbon darkening on Mercury’s surface using data from the now-demolished Mercury Atmospheric and Surface Composition Spectrometer on MESSENGER.

Throughout his tenure in space mission operations, Indy has published a half a dozen papers on spacecraft design and mission operations, as well as co-authored a dozen additional papers on spacecraft design, mission operations, and science analysis results of early exoplanet research.

Not being an all-work/no-play kinda guy, in his spare time, when not staring at the stars, Indy can be found exploring the world we live on. In addition to having authored the rock climbing guidebook “Climb Maryland!”, he is often out scaling cliffs from Maryland to Thailand, mapping cave systems in West Virginia, mountain climbing in the greater Rocky Mountains, diving for fossilized Megalodon shark teeth (or to just look at the pretty fish) in the Atlantic or Caribbean, working on various time-lapse and astro-lapse photography projects, or generally capturing moments in time by photographing the world around us. No moss gathers under his feet!




7:00 pm – 8:00 pm


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Shostak is Senior Astronomer and Director of the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research, a division of The SETI Institute, in Mountain View, CA. He holds a PhD in astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology.

He has authored and co-authored a college textbook on astrobiology, four popular books on SETI, and 400 popular science articles.  He has appeared on numerous television documentaries including Horizon, Naked Science, and The Universe. Shostak presents many dozens of public science talks annually, and he is the host of the SETI Institute’s weekly science radio show, “Big Picture Science.”  He has received the Klumpke-Roberts Award 2004 of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for his “outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy.”  And recently won the 2015 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization.