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Announcing the Candidates for 2017 AAVSO Council Elections

Slate of candidates for AAVSO Council elections to be held November 2017

John W. Briggs Magdalena, NM
Michael Cook  Newcastle, ON, Canada
Jonathan McDowell  Somerville, MA
Joyce Guzik White Rock NM *running for re-election
Arlo Landolt  Baton Rouge, LA
Gordon Myers Hillsborough, CA
Bill Stein Las Cruses, NM *running for re-election


Biographical statements from candidates

John W. Briggs

John W. Briggs is an instrumentalist who has worked widely at observatories including Mount Wilson, Yerkes, National Solar, Maria Mitchell, Venezuelan National, and many others.  AAVSO has been a strong influence since 1973 when, as a youngster, he attended a variable star symposium at Stamford Observatory.  In the 1980s he was an editor at Sky & Telescope and built Bogsucker Observatory in Massachusetts.  Later he was a winter-over scientist for Chicago's Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica.  Following that he was a staff engineer building the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.  Currently he is operating the Astronomical Lyceum, an astronomical research, education, and engineering center.   His career includes teaching at University of Colorado, New Mexico State University, and as a visiting scholar at Phillips Academy.  He recently played a central role transferring Princeton's 95-cm telescope to Mittelman Family Foundation in New Mexico.  Briggs considers his success creating the Astronomical Lyceum as an entrepreneurial adventure.  He has founded several educational corporations, most recently the non-profit Magdalena Astronomical Society.  Briggs created and ran Stellafane's ongoing Hartness House Workshop through its first seven years to benefit the Porter-Hartness Museum of Telescope Making.  He has friends and associates widely distributed through astronomy, and he has supported many scientific & educational philanthropic enterprises.  The AAVSO's Clint Ford, he is proud to recall, was a house guest and visitor at his former Bogsucker Observatory, along with many other accomplished AAVSO mentors over the years.  The influence of these wonderful people encourages Briggs to serve the organization now.


Michael Cook

I am a retired land use planner from a regional (county) level government with 30 years experience in the formulation of public policy that guides the long range residential and non-residential development of the region.

I have been an amateur astronomer for over 35 years and member of the AAVSO since 2010. Using my robotic observatory, I have collected and contributed over 60,000 CCD observations to the AID, mostly of LPVs and CVs, and have participated in many Alert and Special campaign notices. I am also an avid participant in Pro-Am variable star monitoring collaborations, and have had the good fortune to have helped with the publication of dozen papers on a wide-range of variable star targets.

I have taught three CHOICE courses over the last several years, and always look forward to another cycle of students through this fantastic AAVSO resource. I am currently serving on the AAVSO Program Services Committee and helping to address innovative ways and means to deliver the many existing (and potentially new) benefits to the membership. I thoroughly enjoy attending AAVSO Spring and Fall meetings so that I can meet the members and listen to what they need from the AAVSO to help them with discovering the universe through variable stars observation.

I was co-founder of the Durham Region Astronomical Association (DRAA) in 2001; serving as President to the Fall of 2017. During my 16-year tenure, I coordinated fundraising for the DRAA and advocated and delivered an extensive astronomy public outreach program for all segments of society for the purposes of recruiting new members. I also coordinated a light pollution awareness campaign with local governments which resulted in the adoption and implementation of outdoor lighting guidelines for new development, and the replacement of roadway lighting with full cut-off fixtures in many local areas.

My interests in serving on Council are to help address the best possible use of limited AAVSO resources that benefits the broadest cross-section of the membership while advocating that the Association remains true to its core business.


Jonathan McDowell

I am an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and a member of AAVSO. I got my PhD at Cambridge University in 1987. I've carried out research on cosmology, black holes, quasars, galaxies, stars, and asteroids, and I'm an expert in open-source software in astrophysics. I lead the group which plans and provides user support for the analysis software for NASA's Chandra. My newsletter Jonathan's Space Report chronicles spaceflight activities, and I appear on radio and TV explaining astronomy and space exploration to the public.

I was an amateur astronomer before I was a pro, and was active in my local and university astro clubs. I still enjoy using the Clark refractor at Harvard and showing planets and nebulae to the public. For over 20 years I've trained undergraduates in research as co-director of the SAO astronomy summer program, and remain committed to bringing the thrill and wonder of astronomy to as broad and diverse an audience as possible.

The AAVSO is the world's premier organization linking amateur and professional astronomy. There aren't many sciences in which professionals regularly use amateur data on an equal basis with their own - I love that about our field. The space for amateur discoveries is changing as automated surveys expand their reach, and we must adapt to that while keeping observing fun and accessible to astronomers of all ages, backgrounds and capabilities. I want to ensure AAVSO members have the infrastructure and support they need to ensure their projects succeed and their results will be used by the professionals.


Joyce Guzik

I have been a staff research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1989. I received a B.A. in physics at Cornell College in Iowa in 1982, and a Ph.D. in astrophysics at Iowa State U. in 1988.  My thesis advisor Lee Anne Willson introduced me to the AAVSO in 1984 where I gave my first astronomy presentation at the Ames, Iowa meeting.  My observing experience has included photoelectric photometry of delta Scuti stars, rapidly oscillating Ap stars, and pulsating white dwarf stars as part of the delta Scuti Network and Whole Earth Telescope observing campaigns, using the 36-inch and 82-inch telescopes at McDonald Observatory.  I have participated in many of the bi-annual international Stellar Pulsation conferences initiated at Los Alamos by my mentor Art Cox, and organized two of these conferences in New Mexico in 1997 and 2009.  Most recently I have been involved the NASA Kepler spacecraft Guest Observer program, using Kepler’s photometric data to discover and study variable stars.  My main area of astronomy expertise is computational modeling of the evolution and pulsation of the Sun and many types of variable stars.

I have just finished serving for twelve years on the Board of Trustees of the National Association of (model) Rocketry, and am currently on the Board of the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra.  I realize that I have much more to learn about the AAVSO after serving one term on Council, and I hope to find more ways to support the AAVSO in its mission.


Arlo Landolt

Arlo is Ball Family Professor of Astronomy Emeritus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. He is an observational astronomer, who has been active in establishing photometric standard star sequences, and in the study of variable stars, eclipsing binaries, and star clusters.  He served nine years as Secretary of Section D (astronomy)of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), eighteen years as Secretary of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), fifteen years on the Board of Directors of the American Institute of Physics (AIP), as well as terms as President of International Astronomical Union's (IAU) Commission 25 and of Division IX, and six years on the Council of the AAVSO. Data provided by the AAVSO community have for years proven of great value in the support of astronomical research.  He is interested in the financial viability of the AAVSO as well as the robustness of the JAAVSO.  Arlo foresees the increasing importance of what has been called the amateur professional collaboration, and will do what he can to enhance such efforts.


Gordon Myers

I am very interested in joining the AAVSO Council. My background combines business experience, involvement with multiple non-profit organizations, and a deep love of astronomy.  My career began at IBM working on the Apollo Space program developing software for the NASA/JSC Mission Control Center.  Being there as we landed on the moon – and brought Apollo 13 home – was a special time!  Later I managed the Space Shuttle onboard flight control software project and then moved into general management. I completed my career as COO of IBM’s Services business. 

After retiring I took astrophysics classes at Columbia where I met Dr. Joe Patterson who introduced me to cataclysmic variables.  AAVSO was instrumental in teaching me photometry.  I’ve submitted over 270,000 observations supporting AAVSO observing campaigns and CV research.  I also developed the TG (Transform Generator) program used by many AAVSO members. I am on the Board of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), and was Board President from 2011-2013 during which time we made major changes to the organization clarifying its goals and focusing its strategy. 

I would be honored to serve on the AAVSO Council. Expanding our reach to include a younger population is crucial to our future.  Our focus should be to help new observers learn about variable stars, assist them as they learn to operate their own telescopes, and teach them the best observing techniques.  We should continue to expand our coordination with professional astronomers. And the effectiveness of our observing sections should be increased.  Finally, we need to develop new funding approaches to support our plans.


Bill Stein

As a current AAVSO council member, I again am a candidate and ask for your support.  I earned a BA degree in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley, and I received my master’s and doctoral degrees in Astronomy ant Indiana University, Bloomington.  I served in the Department of Defense (DoD) for thirty-four years working on the design of imaging satellites and the analysis of the imaging data for classified systems. I currently have two working C14 telescopes and CCD cameras dedicated to variable star observations.  As an AAVSO member, I have submitted more than 180,000 CCD observations of variable stars, mainly cataclysmic variables. I host one of the AAVSO’s Bright Star Monitors (BSM_NM) at my observatory in the Sacramento Mountains.  I have taken advantage of courses that the AAVSO offers, including the first CCD School held at Tufts University.  As a member of professional and amateur organizations, I am committed to ensuring that the relationship between amateurs and professionals continues and thrives. I wish to ensure that the membership of the AAVSO grows and remains active through education and outreach.  I will work to maintain, enhance and grow the observational hardware and software capabilities of the AAVSO.  Finally, it is essential to give AAVSO members more opportunities to improve their observing capabilities through education.  We can accomplish this as the AAVSO continues to offer more courses.  If reelected, I will work for the AAVSO membership on all of these programs.

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