Board of Advisors
Dr. Jason Reimuller
Jason’s love for science and exploration was seeded at a very young age, and in following his dream of becoming an astronaut, he received his PhD in aerospace engineering sciences with an emphasis on remote sensing from the University of Colorado in 2011. His dissertation used remote sensing techniques from aircraft and spacecraft to study climate trends in upper-atmospheric ‘noctilucent clouds’ and continental glaciers. To support his ongoing research interests, Jason became a commercial research pilot and NAUI SCUBA divemaster and has traveled to over 60 countries, often supporting research efforts in the Arctic. Prior to 2010, he served NASA as a system engineer and project manager for manned space programs and as an officer in the US Air Force.
Jason currently serves as the executive director of Project PoSSUM, a non-profit research and education program that enables citizen-science astronauts to conduct global climate science in our upper atmosphere, develop complementary technologies, and communicate the vital role that plays in our understanding of our global climate. Jason brings remote sensing and glaciology expertise to Science in the Wild, and is excited to see the citizen-science model of conducting and communicating science applied to many of the essential scientific fields that further enable a broad understanding of our changing global climate.
Dr. Melissa Lane
Melissa loves space and adventure. She studies the geology of Mars by comparing spacecraft data to lab spectra of minerals, rocks, and meteorites. She has always enjoyed the stories planets can tell through the study of their rocks. She is a Participating Scientist with the Mars Odyssey THEMIS instrument currently orbiting the Red Planet. Melissa earned a PhD in geology and mid-infrared remote sensing from Arizona State University where she stayed on as a one-year Postdoc to analyze Mars Global Surveyor TES data. She then spent 2 years as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX, where she was inspired by the Apollo-era Saturn V she passed each day. Since 2001, she has been working at the Planetary Science Institute where she is now a Senior Scientist. Melissa’s recent passion is climate change advocacy, which has taken her to Washington, DC on several occasions to lobby Congress to create policy that would help reduce fossil fuel consumption and reverse global warming.
Melissa had high hopes of becoming an astronaut and was interviewed in 2000, but now seeks adventures of other types including traveling the world and being spun in a human centrifuge to help determine minimum training requirements for commercial space travelers. Melissa spent 8 weeks with the ANtarctic Search for METeorites (ANSMET) team collecting meteorites for research, during which she lived in a tent on the ice for 6 weeks (and adored it!). She recently has been to the amazing Galapagos Islands to see the giant tortoises and strange birds, and to the Sacred Valley in Peru to visit Machu Picchu. Melissa’s travel bucket list is long and she will continue her worldwide adventures and quest for science through engagement with and guidance of SITW.
Mr. Brian Shiro
Brian works at the intersection of science and operations. He brings sound scientific judgment to natural hazard monitoring and studies how geophysical exploration best practices on earth can be adapted for use on other worlds. Brian currently serves as supervisory geophysicist at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory after having spent a decade with NOAA. He holds a B.A. with majors in Integrated Science, Geology, and Physics from Northwestern University, an M.A. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis, and an M.S. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota. He is also a graduate of the International Space University’s Space Studies Program and a current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hawaii at Mānoa, where he manages crew surface exploration activities for NASA’s Hawaii Space Exploration Analog & Simulation (HI-SEAS) program.
As an avid explorer, Brian has experience conducting science expeditions to study subsurface water, ice, caves, and earthquakes in the Arctic, Antarctic, and remote Pacific regions. He has also spent over 60 days aboard research vessels mapping the seafloor and served on two simulated Mars mission crews in Canada and Utah. Brian was a “Highly Qualified” NASA astronaut candidate applicant in 2008 and 2012. He co-founded the non-profit organization Astronauts for Hire (A4H) to provide professional development, networking, and mission development opportunities for aspiring astronauts. Through A4H, he has tested a wearable biometric monitoring device in microgravity and completed multiple astronaut and survival training programs. Brian is a strong advocate of science education and outreach in his local community and beyond and looks forward to aiding SITW expeditions and scientific efforts.
Dr. Sian Proctor
Sian has always considered herself a geoexplorer. She has traveled and taught around the world but also has a passion for space exploration. She is an analog astronaut with experience in human space flight training and research. She’s lived in multiple Moon and Mars simulations and was recently a crew member in the first all-female Sensoria Mars Mission at the HI-SEAS habitat. She was a finalist for the 2009 NASA astronaut selection and is a member of PoSSUM 13 and a Project PoSSUM citizen-scientist astronaut trainee. Sian is a continuing Solar System Ambassador and serves on the National Science Teaching Association’s Aerospace advisory board, the JustSpace Alliance board, and the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS) USA advisory board. Sian was the science communication officer on the 2-month JOIDES Resolution Expedition 383: Dynamics of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. Sian was also a 2016 Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador (ACEAP), a NOAA Teacher at Sea, and a PolarTREC teacher. In 2019-20 she was on sabbatical building virtual field trips at Arizona State University in the Center for Education Through Exploration. In 2012-13, she was on sabbatical at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute helping to design their science of disaster curriculum for emergency managers. Sian is a geology, sustainability, and planetary science professor at South Mountain Community College, Phoenix, Arizona. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science, an M.S. in Geology, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction: Science Education.
Sian has expertise in curriculum development and science communication. As a black female geoscientist, she wants to inspire and motivate women of color to pursue STEM careers. She believes that when we solve for the complexity of humans in space, we are also solving for complex issues on Earth. Her TEDx talk is titled Eat Like a Martian and she has a cookbook called Meals for Mars – both of which are based on her participation in a NASA funded 4-month Mars simulation investigating food strategies for long-duration spaceflight. Her life motto is Space2inspire.
Dr. Victor Peña-Araujo
A trained medical doctor and surgeon with a decade of clinical experience, Victor has always felt at home when expanding and sharing his passion for the natural sciences. As a child he was inspired by National Geographic, Sagan’s Cosmos, and by reading about NASA’s Apollo program. He fell in love with the logical and structured approach of the scientific method as a means of learning about and contributing to the world around him. Victor holds a Biology degree from Hamilton College (N.Y.) and is a medical graduate and a post-graduate Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. In 2017 he became one of the world’s first Diplomates of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. For over 30 years Victor has enjoyed combining his medical career and interests with the great outdoors.
He has been certified in WALS (Wilderness Advanced Life Support), has completed advanced survival techniques, and in 2003 he joined Alpine Expeditions to serve as the Expedition Medic on its National Geographic Andes Expedition to the crash site of the 1972 Fairchild aircraft. Today Victor is a health & science consultant, educator, speaker, and health coach through ELITE Personalized Health where he’s dedicated to promoting science literacy and evidence-based health optimization using the best scientific research, the latest mobile technology, and his finely honed communication skills. Victor maintains a small and select roster of medical and nursing students and highly motivated college students with whom he shares his passion and expertise in science, medicine, and health. He’s also fascinated by astronomy, space travel, and the growing field of astrobiology.
Ms. Allison Cusick
Allison Cusick is a field-going Biological Oceanographer researching the effects of the climate crisis on microscopic phytoplankton life in Antarctica. Critical to all life on Earth, phytoplankton are the “invisible forest” in the ocean responsible for converting half of the world’s carbon into oxygen. For more than 10 years, Allison has studied phytoplankton and their genetic responses to climate change in the lab and at sea. Currently pursuing her PhD in Biological Oceanography at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Allison manages the citizen science project she designed through her Master’s program called FjordPhyto (www.fjordphyto.org) to engage the polar tourism industry in Antarctic research. Samples collected by guides and travelers contribute to her research about how melting glaciers influence phytoplankton communities.
Allison’s diverse and varied scientific career has taken her around the globe. Prior to graduate school, she studied the effects of urbanization and forest fires on the distribution patterns of songbirds and squirrels in the Cascade Mountains of Washington. She worked on conservation efforts in Mexico studying the breeding behaviors of parrots and climbed into the jungle canopy studying macaws in the Peruvian Amazon. She has led undergraduate students on big cat identification field trips to South Africa and tracked packs of wild dogs in Zimbabwe. On her inaugural expedition to Antarctica in 2013, Allison lived aboard the US Nathaniel B Palmer icebreaker for 53-days in the Ross Sea and has since spent 215 days on ships in Antarctica. She’s also spent numerous days at sea off the coast of Washington, Hawaii, and California. Allison recently became a certified Polar Guide, and she’s also a certified PADI/NAUI Rescue Diver and AAUS Scientific Diver.
Allison is an advocate for connecting people to the wonders of science through teaching and volunteer outreach opportunities. In 2015, she started the media platform Woman Scientist (www.womanscientist.com) to inspire women to pursue careers in field science. When not doing science, Allison volunteers to keep the local aquarium kelp tank clean for public dive shows and she enjoys ultra-running, cycling, camping, and sipping a good cup of coffee. Fun fact: Allison ran a marathon on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica dressed as a banana.