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Announcing Candidates for the 2019 Council Election

Slate of candidates for 2019 AAVSO Council elections:

David Eric Cowall, Nanticoke, MD                                                                                *running for re-election
Michael J. Cook, Newcastle, ON Canada*
Joyce Guzik, White Rock, NM*                         
JoDee Baker-Maloney, Madison Heights, MI
Bob Massey,Palm Desert, CA                          
Daniel Caton, Vilas, NC


Statements from candidates


David Eric Cowall Nanticoke, MD                                                 

            I have been a member of the AAVSO for 26 years and have functioned as both a visual and CCD observer with >17K observations to date. I have previously served on the Council Nominating Committee and have been an Instructor for two CHOICE courses. I have published an AAVSOnet project on CY Aqr (JAAVSO Volume 43, 2015) and am currently writing a manuscript for publication on a period change of BW Vul from both AAVSOnet and Lowell Observatory data.  

             My professional career has been as a Medical Oncologist/Hematologist as well as a Hospice/Palliative Medicine Physician. In my current capacity as the director of a translational medical research department, I oversee clinical trials and observational research for a wide variety of illnesses. I am actively involved in obtaining funding from grants, industry, and philanthropy.  My particular research interest has been end-of-life cancer care, and that has been the focus of several of my publications. I have also served for many years as a volunteer for non-profit organizations, including The American Cancer Society and The Boy Scouts of America.

             I am a candidate for the AAVSO Council because I passionately support our mission and vision. Also (please excuse the pun), the stars have now properly aligned: I will be retiring at the end of September and will have sufficient time to devote to the Council. I believe in servant leadership and have deep respect for the power created by the various skillsets amongst our members and staff. As a United States Navy veteran, I know what it means to serve. I hope you will conclude that I am well-suited for this position. If elected, I pledge to each of you nothing less than my very best. I ask for your vote.


Michael J. Cook, Newcastle, ON Canada*

          I am a retired (since 2015) 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 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 fund-raising 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.

          I have been an amateur astronomer for nearly 40 years and member of the AAVSO since 2010. Using my robotic observatory, I have collected and contributed over 70,000 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 five AAVSO CHOICE courses over the last several years, and always look forward to another cycle of students through this fantastic AAVSO resource. I was a past member of the AAVSO Program Services Committee, and helped to address innovative ways and means to deliver the many existing (and potentially new) benefits to the membership. Last year, I supported hitting the "pause button" for this committee so that efforts may be directed toward the formulation and adoption of a Strategic Plan that will guide the Association through the many challenges that we are facing. To that end, I have been serving on the Strategic Planning Committee, and have been, and will be, speaking with many of the members and external partners in the astronomical community to seek their input toward the formulation of goals, objectives and actions items for the Association's Strategic Plan. 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. 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.


Joyce Guzik, White Rock, NM*                         

          I have been a research scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory since 1989.  I received a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Iowa State U. in 1988.  My thesis advisor Lee Anne Willson introduced me to the AAVSO, where I gave my first astronomy presentation at the Ames, Iowa meeting in 1984.  My observing experience has included photoelectric photometry as part of the delta Scuti Network and Whole Earth Telescope observing campaigns, using the 36-inch and 82-inch telescopes at McDonald Observatory, and observing projects with the NASA Keplerspacecraft Guest Observer program.  My main area of expertise is computational modeling of the evolution and pulsation of the Sun and many types of variable stars.

          I have served two terms on AAVSO Council, and have seen numerous changes and transitions.  Recently the Council has engaged in strategic planning to re-examine our mission, and to determine how we can stay vital and viable in changing times.  Membership, facilitating observing, data mining, citizen science, annual meetings, interactions between amateurs and professionals, the role of the Journal of the AAVSO, communications, software tools, and long-term financial sustainability are all being discussed.  I would like to continue to contribute to this process as we explore and evaluate changes.

          I would like to help the AAVSO strengthen participation via local sections, so that members can interact more frequently and engage and mentor new members. I would like to develop a program to seek out and pair professionals with amateurs to develop specific observing or data mining projects, to involve students and new members, and to finish research products that result in a JAAVSO or other publication, or presentation. I would like to help improve the financial underpinnings of the AAVSO, for example, through grants, donations adding to the endowment, and by increasing membership.


JoDee Baker-Maloney Madison Heights, MI

          Hello, my name is JoDee Baker and I have been a member of the AAVSO for a little over 6 years now. During the past five years of my membership, I have volunteered as an instructor for the CHOICE course, VStar, and for a short time a volunteer for AAVSOnet. During this time, I have met many kind, genuine, and hardworking members from all over the world. It is because of the dedication of these members that I would now like to increase my commitment to the AAVSO by serving on the council. It is my wish that I can share my 15 years of expertise as a college astronomy and physics educator to help strengthen educational programs within the organization. 

          I cannot think of a more important and historically significant organization for the advancement of astronomy research and education as the AAVSO, and I would consider serving on the council as both an honor and privilege. Thank you and clear skies!  


Bob Massey,Palm Desert, CA                           

          Variable star astronomy and related areas are expanding at a phenomenal pace. Amateur capabilities of individuals and their equipment are on par with those of professionals from just a short time ago. Automated all-sky surveys are coming on line at an almost frenetic pace. Some might argue this is the end of relevance for AAVSO. But I think the majority of the membership would agree that this just presents an excellent opportunity for the AAVSO and its membership to further its mission. 

          If elected to serve on Council, I look forward to working with other Council members, staff and members at-large to ensure AAVSO is positioned to maintain its premier role and to advance its mission of observation, analysis, data collection, pro-am collaboration, education and public outreach.

          I am experienced in managing and leading high-level program teams from inception to implementation. I have served as co-chair on the Gore Commission Commercial Air Safety Team’s Turbulence mitigation efforts, served as a member of the National Research Council’s Aviation Weather Committee charged with a call for Federal leadership and action with regards to government aviation weather programs, and have held management and oversite positions on numerous aviation weather and safety programs. I have also led several project management software development teams with extensive experience in remote team organization and operation. 

          My formal education includes BS—Meteorology, University of Wisconsin: MS—System Safety Management, University of Southern California: and MS—Astronomy, Swinburne University of Technology. I currently serve as a Board Director and Vice President of the Riverside Astronomical Society, am a thirteen-year Palomar observatory docent, a Caltech volunteer archive researcher, and an active member of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite sub group 1 (seeing-limited photometry). My photometric observations are done at my permanent observatory, Villa ’39, located in the Southern California desert.   


Daniel Caton, Vilas, NC

        As a new member of the Council, I would bring a fresh perspective to the operation of the AAVSO.  I do have numerous connections with the AAVSO in that I have published in its Journal, refereed papers submitted to the Journal, and have had my students in my Techniques in Astronomical Photometry course submit their observations to the AAVSO.  I myself started in astronomy as an amateur and still have some old, blueprint-style AAVSO charts from my early membership.  Most of my own work has been in eclipsing binaries, first with RS Cvn stars as my dissertation, then observing times of minimum light, and, during the last several years, observing short-period systems, solving the light curves, and publishing the results with collaborators.  All of this work has involved student researchers as well, so I will bring my experience in education to the Council.  Indeed, I have taught a course in Binary and Variable Stars for several years now. I also do a lot of work in public outreach, and I understand the value of promoting the work that scientists do. If elected, my plan would be to first find the lay of the land as the Association works now and then try to add my experience to affect its future positively.


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