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  • Astronomy Update - Dr. Ronald Kaitchuck
    The annual Astronomy Update Lecture, usually the highest 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.

    Ronald Kaitchuck is professor of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Charles W. Brown Planetarium at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. He is the author or co- author of more than 80 scientific publications and articles for Scientific American, Mercury Magazine and the Encyclopedia Britannica. Ron is the co-author (with Arne Henden) of the book Astronomical Photometry. This text has served as a common reference for astronomers and astronomy students.

    Dr. Kaitchuck was the director of the Southeastern Association for Research in Astronomy Consortium’s observatory in Chile, South America for 4 years. For more than a decade, Ron ran summer workshops for planetarium professionals from the United States and Europe.

    From 2011 to 2014 Dr. Kaitchuck planned, designed and helped to secure funding for the Charles W. Brown planetarium with a 16 meter (52 foot) dome and a GOTO/RSA Cosmos hybrid star projector. He also obtained additional funding to convert the old optical-mechanical planetarium with its 30-foot dome into a production theater with a second RSA Cosmos digital projection system. Ron and his wife Michelle have two adult sons.

  • Life Among the Stars (Spitz Lecture) - David Batch

    Dr. David Batch joined the staff of Abrams Planetarium in November 1968, became director in 1983, and retired from the same institution in January 2013. He holds degrees from Adrian College (where he first became enamored of planetariums), the University of Michigan, and Michigan State University, where he earned a Ph.D. in Educational Administration.

    Although not quite a charter member of the Great Lakes Planetarium Association, Dr. Batch was a continuous member throughout his career. He held the offices of Secretary/Treasurer and President of the association.

    Dave was a charter member of the International Planetarium Society (originally the International Society of Planetarium Educators [ISPE]). He held the office of Executive Secretary and served for a brief time as editor of the organization’s journal, the Planetarian.

    Dr. Batch taught several university credit courses over the years. His favorite was “Sky Interpretation,” offered to students who were intent on becoming naturalists.

    In retirement, Dave enjoys playing pickleball, gardening, bicycling, and getting to dark skies whenever possible. He adores his two young grandchildren who seem bent on achieving perpetual motion.

  • Future of Planetarium - People Matter - Dr. Jessica Garcia
    Planetariums are places of joy and excitement to spread love and connection with the night sky for everyone. For us to stay relevant and thrive, we need to appeal to a wide range of people. To stay relevant and thrive, we need to talk about how we work to include everyone in our audiences and as practitioners in our field. Led by Dr. Garcia, this interactive session will explore the universal phenomenon of implicit bias: what it is, why it happens, how it happens, and when it is most likely to happen. Participants will also explore their own implicit bias and how it impacts the ways in which they interact with audiences and peers and consider some of the ways to reduce the incidence of bias, both professionally and personally.​

    Jessica Garcia joined the Department of Sociology in August 2009 and the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives in 2014. In addition to teaching, Dr. Garcia serves as an Intercultural Education Specialist and Faculty Associate in the office. In this role, she contributes to the design and coordination of education and development programs to enhance critical dialogue and conflict management skills with faculty, staff, and students; conducts workshops on implicit bias and microaggressions, racial literacy, as well as inclusive pedagogy, intersectionality, and facilitating difficult dialogues. She also represents and supports the implementation of unit programs to enhance change management skills and competencies for faculty, staff, and students. In addition, Dr. Garcia supports office initiatives to enhance climate for the campus community and, in consultation with campus stakeholders, implement strategies that support the recruitment, advancement, and retention of diverse faculty and staff at MSU.​

  • Virtual tour of National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and upcoming Facility for Rare Isotope Beams - Dr. Zach Constan & Prof. Jaideep Singh
    The "Virtual Tour" of the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams and National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory includes full-dome images of the experimental vaults, 3D models of equipment, and animations that demonstrate how our research gets done. Using MSU's Abrams Planetarium, we can "go" places in the lab that most visitors never see! The tour will be conducted by NSCL outreach coordinator Zach Constan and introduced by Professor Jaideep Singh, whose career grant from the National Science Foundation funded the creation and implementation of this project.

    Dr. Zach Constan earned his Bachelor’s degree in physics (1995) from Albion College, studied psychoacoustics for his Ph.D. in physics (2002) at Michigan State University, taught college astronomy for three years, and served as a church youth director. Now, as NSCL Outreach Coordinator, he gets to tell everyone about the exciting developments in nuclear science at MSU's National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory and future Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.

    Professor Jaideep Singh applies atomic, molecular, and optical physics techniques to answer fundamental questions in nuclear and particle physics. His group is presently involved in two long-term research projects: the development of a single atom microscope for measuring low-yield nuclear reactions relevant for stellar nucleosynthesis, and the search for time-reversal symmetry violation using pear-shaped nuclei in atoms and molecules. His teaching projects are to incorporate writing instruction into the senior physics advanced lab course and research-based methods into large lecture courses in order to increase student engagement and active learning. His main outreach activity is the development of a virtual tour of the NSCL in the form of a modular planetarium show.