Outreach Astronomer: Dr. Valerie Rapson

Valerie Rapson image 090815Valerie’s interest in astronomy started when she was a young child. She watched endless Star Trek episodes with her father and hoped to one day better understand how the universe works. During her undergraduate career at the University of Rochester, Valerie had the opportunity to teach a summer physics course for young women, and this is where her passion for science education and outreach blossomed.

Valerie went on to get her Ph.D. in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her dissertation focused on the chemical composition and structure of planet-forming disks around nearby young stars.

Valerie spent much of her free time during graduate school educating the public about astronomy. She taught summer camps, visited senior living communities, and presented star shows at the Strasenburgh Planetarium. For two years Valerie was also president of the Rochester Academy of Sciences Astronomy Section, a large organization of amateur astronomers that love to share their passion for astronomy with the world. In 2014 Valerie was inducted into the American Astronomical Society’s Astronomy Ambassadors program, recognizing her extensive participation in astronomy outreach throughout Rochester, NY.

Valerie is really excited to be spearheading the astronomy education programs at the Dudley Observatory at miSci. She hopes to reach out to all members of the public, both young and young-at-heart, and teach them the wonders of outer space. Her motto is: “You don’t need to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to learn about, understand, and enjoy astronomy”.

Archivist: Josh Hauck

hauck_bioWhile Valerie was watching Star Trek, Josh was binge watching marathons of James Burke’s Connections, coming away with a deep conviction that understanding the world requires understanding how it got to be the way it is.  Coming from a long line of librarians, Josh combined his respect for history with a drive to collect and preserve the sources that define history.

Josh received his Masters of Science in Information Science and a Masters in Public History from the University of Albany.  He has worked in historical institutions in the capital region for a decade, including the M.E. Grenander Archives at the University of Albany, the Albany Institute of History and Art and Clermont State Historic Site.

At the moment, Josh splits his time between the extensive GE collection in the archives at the Museum of Innovation and Science (miSci) and with 160 years of astronomical history housed in the Dudley Observatory archives.  When he can be pried out of the archives, he tries to illustrate the history of Dudley with exhibits and presentations.

Past Interim Director: Elissa Kane

Elissa Kane

The Dudley Observatory’s Past Interim Director was Elissa Kane, Partner at Kane & Lekakis Consulting.