Return to main page
  • Shannon SchmollAstronomy Update - Dr. Shannon Schmoll
    The annual Astronomy Update Lecture, a highly-rated conference event, provides the latest astronomical information, investigates what has changed in the past year, and explores current theories on the workings of the Universe.

    Dr. Shannon Schmoll is the director of the Abrams Planetarium at Michigan State University where she has been working to expand both astronomy programming and learning of other subjects under the dome. She earned a joint PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics and Education from the University of Michigan in 2013. Her research has focused on integrating field trips to informal learning environments into formal science curriculum. She is currently working on research around extending learning beyond the dome after planetarium shows. She was also a member of the first cohort of the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors program and continues to provide outreach around why we build so many telescopes in Chile.

  • Karrie BerglundA Voice in the Dark (Spitz Lecture) - Karrie Berglund
    The annual Spitz Lecture is named after planetarium pioneer Armand N. Spitz. Criteria for selecting the Spitz Lecturer include individuals who, in the words of Armand N. Spitz, "...have creative imaginations in this field and the courage to visualize the achievement of ideals in a practical way by the use of the planetarium instrument" and "...who are not afraid to acknowledge that they have a dream." Past lecturers include astronomers, educators, the widow of Armand N. Spitz, and many pillars of the planetarium community.

    Karrie is a co-founder of Digitalis Education Solutions, Inc., based in Bremerton, Washington, where she serves as Director of Education. She is passionate about science education and its power to encourage critical thinking and engage the imagination.

    Karrie grew up in a small town in western Connecticut as the youngest of three children and the only girl. She spent her freshman year of college at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where she quickly learned that big city life was not for her. She transferred to Middlebury College in Vermont for her sophomore through senior years, earning a BA in French and a minor in American History. Karrie moved out to the Seattle area after college.

    Prior to Digitalis, Karrie held numerous positions at Seattle's Pacific Science Center. She supervised the on-site Willard Smith Planetarium and live stage science programs; traveled to K-8 schools all over Washington state with the Science On Wheels outreach program; planned and led science-based summer camps; and toured with the final year of Science Carnival, a 5,000 square foot mobile science museum with a team of three on the road together for literally months at a stretch.

    Karrie founded and acts as Chief Instigator for the Live Interactive Planetarium Symposium (LIPS), a movement dedicated to professional development for presenters of live planetarium programs. Digitalis planned and hosted the first-ever LIPS in August, 2011. Karrie assists with organization of the annual multi-day LIPS each year as well as organizes and leads several LIPS-style days (such as GLIPSA) for regional conferences.

    In her spare time, Karrie enjoys volunteering at a local PAWS shelter for homeless cats and kittens. She is an avid Elvis Costello fan, seeing him in concert as often as possible, and has an unabashed love of marsupials especially quokkas. Karrie enjoys traveling and has been eagerly looking forward to finally hitting the road again after coronavirus restrictions lift.

  • Trice BatsonCulture of Collaboration - Trice Batson
    Kalamazoo Valley Community College understands its leadership role in fostering and modeling diversity, equity, and inclusion. The college seeks to embed the goals and values of diversity and inclusion into every office, department and function. The core belief is that promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion is everyone’s responsibility. In this session, learn how Kalamazoo Valley, guided by its board of trustees, uses cross-functional collaboration to drive its culture towards inclusive excellence.

    Anticipated Outcomes for Presentation: (What will attendees learn from this?)
    1. Learn about the KVCC process for transforming its culture to be DEI friendly
    2. What it looks like on paper
    3. What it looks like in action

    Trice Batson is the Director of Diversity and Inclusion and Kalamazoo Valley Community College. He previously served as the Coordinator of Diversity and Inclusion and Training Specialist. Included with his experience in diversity training and programming, he has served on numerous committees and is currently the Chair for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee for Equity and Culture.

  • Grant HarknessSpace Talks: Utilizing Meteorites as Keys to Conversation - Grant Harkness
    Providing a connection for students to the nebulous and intangible is a challenge. Whether it is atomic structure or photosynthesis, finding ways to provide a physical connection can prove to be difficult. This educational hurdle is magnified when dealing with cosmic scales, accretion disks, planetary formation, distant bodies and so forth. In bringing outer space into the classroom by way of meteorites, we find many ways to make the vast darkness above a little more personal, meaningful and impactful.

    TOPSS LogoFueled by a passion to share the magnificence of space with as many as possible, Grant Harkness launched The Organization for the Proliferation of Space Studies, TOPSS. Starting humbly in Wilton, Iowa, TOPSS has grown to support educational efforts in over 12 countries, including the USA, Botswana, India, Pakistan, Canada, Italy, South Africa, and many more. With a growing cadre of skilled volunteers, scientists, and industry experts, TOPSS brings to young minds new and exciting space-related educational opportunities!