Track Chairperson Bios

100 Year Starship Study™ Public Symposium

Dr. James Benford

James Benford is President of Microwave Sciences, which deals with High Power Microwave systems from conceptual designs to hardware. He worked for two decades on fusion research. His work on space propulsion centers on beam-driven sails. He led the team that first flew carbon sails driven by microwave beams in the laboratory He has written 135 scientific papers and 6 books on physics topics, including the textbook, High Power Microwaves, now in its 2nd edition. He is the twin brother of science fiction writer, Prof. Gregory Benford.

TRACK: Time-Distance Solutions
Propulsion, time/space manipulation and/or dilation, near speed of light navigation, faster than light navigation, observations and sensing at near speed of light or faster than light

Dr. Chris McKay

Dr. Christopher P. McKay, is a planetary scientist with the space science division of NASA Ames. Chris received his Ph.D. in Astro-geophysics from the University of Colorado in 1982 and has been a research scientist with the NASA Ames Research Center since that time. His current research focuses on the evolution of the solar system and the origin of life. He is also actively involved in planning for future Mars missions including human settlements. Chris has been involved with polar research since 1980, traveling to the Antarctic dry valleys and more recently to the Siberian and Canadian Arctic to conduct research in these Mars-like environments. Dr. McKay is a recepient of the prestigious Kuiper Award from the Division of Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society for his contributions.

TRACK: Habitats and Environmental Science
To have gravity or not, space and radiation effects, environmental toxins, energy collection and use, agriculture, self-supporting environments; optimal habitat sizing

Dr. Neal R. Pellis

Dr. Neal R. Pellis was Senior Scientist in the Space Life Sciences Directorate at NASA Johnson Space Center, working with the directorate chief on strategic planning, alliances, and partnerships necessary to acquire basic and applied science and technology for exploration missions and to manage the risks to crew in space and on planetary missions. Dr. Pellis received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio in 1972 and was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship in Microbiology at Stanford University. Dr. Pellis joined the NASA-Johnson Space Center in October 1994, previously having been on the Faculty of Northwestern University Medical School, the University of Texas Medical School, and directing the Department of Surgical Oncology research laboratory at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. He has had adjunct appointments at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Mabee Laboratory of Biochemical and Genetic Engineering, Rice University, Houston, TX, as well as the University of Texas Medical Branch Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Galveston, TX. He led the biotechnology cell science program at NASA from 1994 to 2003. He had 16 month assignment to NASA Headquarters as International Space Station (ISS) Program Scientist from May 2002 through August 2003. Thereafter he was Associate Director of the Biological Sciences and Applications Office working on exploration cell science until January 2005. In 2005 he was appointed Senior Scientist in space Life Sciences. In October of 2010 he joined USRA and as the directorship of the Division of Space Life sciences on October 18 of 2010.

TRACK: Biology and Space Medicine
Physiology in space; psychology in space; human life suspension (e.g., cryogenic); medical facilities and capabilities in space, On-scene (end of journey) spawning from genetic material

Dr. Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison was born in Decatur, Alabama on October 17, 1956. She was the youngest of three children. The Jemison family moved to Chicago when Mae was only three. It was in Chicago that an uncle introduced her to the world of science. At a very early age, Mae developed interests in anthropology, archaeology, and astronomy that she pursued throughout her childhood. Mae Jemison enrolled at Stanford University at the age of 16 and in 1977 graduated with degrees in both chemical engineering and Afro-American studies. She received a Doctor of Medicine degree from Cornell University in 1981. Dr. Jemison has practiced medicine as a volunteer in a Cambodian refugee camp and as a medical officer with the Peace Corps in West Africa. She was working as a general practitioner in Los Angeles, California when NASA selected her and 14 others for astronaut training. Dr. Jemison completed her training as a mission specialist with NASA in 1988. In September of 1992, as a mission specialist aboard the Shuttle Endeavour, Mae Jemison became the first African-American woman to enter space. In 1993, Dr. Jemison resigned from NASA and founded the Jemison Group, Inc. Among her current projects are several that focus on improving healthcare in Africa and advancing technology in developing countries.

TRACK: Education, Social, Economic and Legal Considerations
Education as a mission, who goes, who stays, to profit or not, economies in space, communications back to earth, political ramifications, round-trip legacy investments and assets left behind

Dr. Jill C. Tarter

Jill Tarter is Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. Tarter received her Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley, and has conducted numerous observational programs at radio observatories worldwide. Tarter’s work has brought her wide recognition in the scientific community, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace and two Public Service Medals from NASA. In 2004 Time Magazine named her one of the Time 100 most influential people in the world. Tarter was one of three Technology, Education, Design (TED) prize-winners in 2009, and in April 2010 was a recipient of the Silicon Valley Women of Influence 2010 Award.

TRACK: Destinations
Criteria for destination selection; what do you take, how many destinations and missions, probes versus journeys of faith

Stewart Brand

Stewart Brand is co-founder and president of The Long Now Foundation and co-founder of Global Business Network. He created and edited the Whole Earth Catalog (National Book Award), and co-founded the Hackers Conference and The WELL. His books include The Clock of the Long Now; How Buildings Learn; and The Media Lab. His most recent book, titled Whole Earth Discipline, is published by Viking in the US and Atlantic in the UK. He graduated with a degree in Biology from Stanford University and served as an Army infantry officer.

TRACK: Philosophical and Religious Considerations
Why go to the stars, moral and ethical issues, implications of finding hospitably worlds; implications of finding life elsewhere, implications of being left behind

Dr. Harry Kloor

Harry Kloor, Ph.D is a Co-founder and serves as Chief Science Consultant of Universal Consultants. Dr. Kloor served as the Chief Scientist of Rocket Racing League and Marketshare Partners. Prior to this, Dr. Kloor served as the Chief Technology Officer of X-Prize Organization. He has provided in-depth technology consulting, scientific research, and technology mining to clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies and start-ups to NASA and national security agencies. Dr. Kloor has also provided extensive guidance to his clients in the development of new technological products, patents, and policy positions. Dr. Kloor’s clients have included NASA, Zero-G corporation, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Rocket Plane, the U.S. Senate, the American Medical Association (AMA), Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL), Heavy Mental Interactive, Mousetrap Solutions, Real Player and Next Computers. He has also provided a host of classified work for various think tanks and energy companies. He is a Hollywood Writer-Producer, National Science Policy Advisor and has 10 years experience creating and writing films and TV shows and 24 years experience in developing and improving technological products, science and technology consulting, policy-making, and communicating science and technology to the public. Dr. Kloor built his first computer at the age of seven and invented his first product at age of eight, giving him 35 years experience in numerous fields of science technology. He serves as a Member of Board of Advisors of SignaCert, Inc. He serves as Member of Advisory Board at Rocket Racing, Inc. In 1994, Dr. Kloor earned the unique status of being the first and to date the only person in the world to simultaneously earn two Ph.D.’s one in physics and the other in chemistry.

TRACK: Communication of the Vision
Storytelling as a means of inspiration; linkage between incentives, payback and investment; use of movies, television and books to popularize long term research and long term journeys



Photos of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and Mission Control were taken by NASA.

One Response

  1. Gary A. Rice

    How can I receive information on the 100 year Starship program coming up this September, 2013?

    Thank you,
    Gary A. Rice

    May 25, 2013 at 7:33 pm

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