AAVSO Board Officers and Members - Dennis Conti

Dennis Conti

(Board member 2021-2024)

Professional title at time of election: Retired Telecommunications Executive

I am a retired telecommunications professional and an amateur astronomer with a strong interest in exoplanet research. In 2015, I founded the AAVSO’s Exoplanet Section and have continued as section leader since. Notable accomplishments of the section include:  establishment of biannual CHOICE courses on Exoplanet Observing (200 participants to-date), implementation of the AAVSO Exoplanet Database, participation in a pro-am Hubble exoplanet collaboration, and participation in the TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite) mission.

I have worked closely with the TESS Science Team to qualify AAVSO members as official participants in their ground-based follow-up program, with over 26 AAVSO members now part of that program. I also developed the TESS submission guidelines and software for detecting false positive, both of which have  benefited the entire TESS team. I am co-author of over 25 exoplanet discovery papers and have given presentations at AAVSO meetings and the 2020-2021 webinar series. For my contributions to TESS and other exoplanet activities, I was awarded the American Astronomical Society’s 2020 Chambliss Amateur Astronomy Achievement Award and the 2018 AAVSO ‘s Director Award.

I believe that my background as a former senior executive, as well as my academic background in computer science, have prepared me to help the AAVSO achieve the goals laid out in the recently adopted Strategic Planfrom advancing science to focusing on financial stability. In particular, to help meet these goals, I will:

1.  Support the Membership Committee’s efforts to increase membership to a wider age and diversity group, including a closer affiliation with community colleges.

2.  Promote a greater reliance on grant funding to help reduce the percentage of the AAVSO’s reliance on its endowments.

3.  Encourage greater participation of members at professional astronomy conferences.

4.  Recommend creation of a new AAVSO section that focuses on using techniques such as machine learning to analyze the deluge of “big data” coming from large-scale surveys such as Gaia and the upcoming Vera C. Rubin Observatory.

Finally, I believe that our volunteers, observing contributors, and HQ staff are our most valuable resource and continuing support and recognition of them will be critical to the AAVSO’s continued success.