Announcing the Fall 2015 AAVSO Council Election Nominees

Please click on the name of the nominee to view his/her online biography. Council election ballot instructions were mailed electronically to each member in mid-September. Best of luck to all of our 2015 nominees!

*Running for re-election.

Dave Cowall, Nanticoke, MD

As an AAVSO member for over 20 years, I have functioned both as a visual and CCD photometrist. I understand the value and needs of both types of observers. I am particularly interested in the DSCT and SXPHE stars and study them using both my own 100mm refractor and the AAVSOnet. I presented a study on the behavior of CY Aqr at last spring’s meeting (submitted to JAAVSO). I have also enjoyed serving as a CHOICE instructor. I am a physician who is board certified in internal medicine, oncology, hematology, and palliative medicine. I am a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the author of numerous scientific publications. Prior to retirement, I held a joint position at two non-profits: a cancer center and a hospice. In that capacity, I facilitated collaboration between the two institutions, directed scientific research, served as treasurer on the executive committee of the hospital medical staff, and was one of the four fiduciary members of the hospice senior management team. I am a U.S. Navy veteran. Based upon my life experiences, I firmly believe that the mission of our organization is best served when its revenue and purpose are properly aligned. One of the great strengths of our institution is the excellent collaborative relationship between its professional and amateur astronomer members. To preserve that relationship, I would support efforts to ensure that there would always be equipoise of amateurs and professionals on the council. I believe in the model of servant leadership.


Joyce A. Guzik, White Rock, NM

I have been a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1989, and received my BA in physics at Cornell College in Iowa, and my PhD in astrophysics at Iowa State U in 1988. My PhD advisor, Lee Anne Willson introduced me to the AAVSO in 1984 where I gave my first astronomy presentation at the Ames AAVSO meeting. Matt Templeton (AAVSO Science Director) was my only PhD student, and he has kept me informed about the AAVSO for the past 15 years, although I have only been an AAVSO member since 2014. My observing experience has included photometry of delta Scuti stars, rapidly oscillating Ap stars, and pulsating white dwarf stars as part of the 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 in the NASA Kepler spacecraft Guest Observer program, using Kepler's photometric data to discover and study variable stars. I have also worked on stellar evolution and pulsation modelling of the Sun and many types of variables.

I am currently a Board member of the National Association of (model) Rocketry and the Los Alamos Symphony Orchestra. I do not know yet how I would be best able to contribute to the AAVSO Council, but I am willing to start the learning curve and contribute where needed.


Rodney Howe*, Fort Collins, CO

I have a Masters Degree in Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) from Colorado State University, and a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science, also from CSU. My occupational work has been with Landsat and AVHRR satellite data, classifying agriculture crop land images for the US Department of Agriculture. Responsibilities included experience in computer science and GIS with the knowledge and skills for photometry and data analysis of satellite image classification. Knowledge from this type of work has given me some experience with processing images of dense globular clusters, using images collected by the AAVSO net of telescopes. I've been a member of the AAVSO since 1999, when I began collecting Very Low Frequency radio data on Gamma Ray Bursts and Solar Ionosphere Disturbances (SIDs). I retired from the USDA in 2010.

I have been the Solar Bulletin editor and chairperson for the AAVSO Solar Section since 2010. I am currently on the AAVSO Council, and on the budget committee. Innovations for AAVSO visual observers, CCD observers, and new statistical methods for reducing satellite image data makes for a vibrant and robust data pool. However, it takes a combination of looking both to the past and to the future for scientific opportunities that can be used to integrate past visual observations with new CCD and satellite technologies, and new statistical methods, which all have to be kept within the budget. I'm finding out that it's quite the balancing act!


Steven D. Kawaler, Ames, IA

From an early age (5!), I've been fascinated by the stars. Today, I am fortunate to be an astrophysics professor at Iowa State University. I work in asteroseismology, using stellar oscillations to deduce the structure of stars. Currently, I work with the Kepler mission, helping characterize host stars of planetary systems.

Over the course of my career, we've gone from photoelectric photometry to CCDs, marvelling at the increase in sensitivity of readily available instruments. I helped run the Whole Earth Telescope, organizing observatories around the globe to obtain alias-free photometry of rapid variable stars. The precision and coverage provided by space missions now often exceeds what we can do from the ground. Public availability of Kepler data enables meaningful research by professional astronomers, amateur astronomers, and students at all levels.

Yet important classes of variable stars remain the province of Earth-bound observers. The AAVSO's matchless archive of observations of stars is an essential resource. Continuing the growth and depth of that archive must have high priority, but we face a significant demographic challenge with the aging base in amateur astronomy. We must develop and encourage efforts to bring in new members of all ages and backgrounds.

In high school in New York, I was lucky enough to live near Danie Overbeek. His encouragement of a somewhat awkward and geeky teen is now deeply appreciated. The AAVSO is rich with such inspiring people, and I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve on its council.


Aaron Price, Chicago, IL

Aaron is the Manager of Evaluation and Research at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago. Prior to that, he worked at AAVSO headquarters from 1998-2012, where he was largely responsible for technological and educational projects. He created and coded the first light curve generator, Quick Look search engine, WebObs data download tool, chart search engine, data usage report, MyNewsFlash and more. He also spearheaded the transition of the AAVSO International Database from text files to a MySQL database. He also ran a number of observing campaigns that resulted in publications in IBVS, JAAVSO and PASP in which fellow observers were co-authors. He has a BS in astronomy, and a PhD in Learning Sciences from Tufts University. He won the American Astronomical Society's Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Graduate Student Award in 2012. His dissertation was about learning associated with the participants in the AAVSO Citizen Sky project. He was the primary author of three NSF/NASA grant proposals that brought the AAVSO over $1.8 million since 2010. Aaron has about 2,058 observations – mostly CCD (Starlight Xpress MX916) with a few hundred visual and photographic/archival. As a member of Council, he will support fellow Council members and staff in preparing grants and other funding proposals while advocating for a sustainable budget. He will also help research ways to use education to increase the AAVSO membership in terms of both size and demographics. He believes in data-driven decision making and feels that, while not everything should be changed, everything should be open to questioning.


Richard Sabo*, Bozeman, MT

Dr. Richard Sabo is a native of Bozeman, Montana, a retired surgeon, and past president of the American College of Surgeons. He became interested in astronomy while camping with his daughter, 15 years ago. As a member and officer of the Southwestern Montana Astronomical Society, he has been active in club activities including astronomy-related presentations to local and regional organizations and public star parties in Bozeman, Yellowstone Park, and at local schools. For the past nine years, he has been doing astrophotography and CCD photometry.

Since 2007, he has been a member of the AAVSO, with interests in cataclysmic variables, eclipsing binary stars, and RR Lyrae stars. He has participated in the Choice program, and the first CCD school, and has contributed more than 200,000 observations to the AAVSO database, and has been a contributor or co-author in over 20 papers in astronomical peer-reviewed publications. He has been a member of the AAVSO Director Search Committee, and contributed software utility programs to the AAVSO. He is currently serving a one-year term as a member of the AAVSO Council.

He is a member of the Astronomical League, the AAVSO, the British Astronomical Association, and the Society of Astronomical Science, and is past president of the Southwestern Montana Astronomical Society.


William (Bill) L. Stein, Las Cruces, NM

I received a BA in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley. Later, I earned an MA and PhD in Astronomy from Indiana University. For 34 years, I served in the Department of Defense, designing classified imaging satellite systems. In Las Cruces, I was an imaging scientist at the Physical Science Department at New Mexico State University (also adjunct professor with the Astronomy, Geography, and Survey Engineering Departments).

As an AAVSO member, I have submitted more than 210,000 CCD observations of cataclysmic variable stars. To improve my observing skills, I was helped by the AAVSO's mentoring program, and took the CCD school. I am hosting one of the AAVSO's Bright Star Monitors (BSM_NM) at my observatory in the Sacramento Mountains of New Mexico. I am a member of the Center for Backyard Astrophysics, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and the American Astronomical Society.

I am committed to ensuring that the relationship between amateur and professional astronomers continues and thrives. I want to ensure that the membership of the AAVSO grows and remains active through education and outreach. We should continue and strengthen outreach to the general public. I will work to maintain, enhance, and grow the observational hardware and software capabilities of the AAVSO. I will work to give AAVSO members more opportunities to improve their observing capabilities through education. We can accomplish this by continuing to offer more AAVSO courses directly and through webinars. If elected, I will work for the AAVSO membership on education and pro-am programs.