SciAccess 2020 Speakers

Dr. Soyeon Yi

Dr. Soyeon Yi

South Korea’s first and only astronaut
Dr. Sarmistha Talukdar

Dr. Sarmistha Talukdar

Molecular Biologist and Autistic Self-Advocate
Amanda Quirk

Amanda Quirk

Astronomy & Astrophysics PhD Candidate and Disability Advocate
Julia Velasquez

Julia Velasquez

Aspiring Astronaut and Science Communicator
Dr. Nicolas Bonne

Dr. Nicolas Bonne

Vision Impaired Astronomer and Public Engagement Specialist

Dr. Kumiko Usuda-Sato

Dr. Kumiko Usuda-Sato

and the IAU Symposium 358 Core Team
Caroline Karbowski

Caroline Karbowski

CEO of See3D and
Biology and Chemistry Student
Name

Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai

Head of Research and Chief Accessibility Officer of the Canadian National Institute of the Blind
Kate Meredith

Kate Meredith

President of GLAS Education
Venkatesh Chari

Venkatesh Chari

Chief Technologist of Orbit Research
Lindsay Yazzolino

Lindsay Yazzolino

Tactile Design Specialist
Heather Tomko

Heather Tomko

Disability Advocate and Ms. Wheelchair USA 2018
Senay Daniel

Senay Daniel

Entrepreneur and Community Advocate
Dr. Soyeon Yi

Dr. Soyeon Yi

South Korea’s first and only astronaut

Dr. Soyeon Yi is South Korea’s first and only astronaut. She was selected as an astronaut in December 2006, out of 36,000 contestants vying for the title of South Korea’s First Astronaut. On April 8, 2008, she launched into space on- board Soyuz TMA-12. During her 11-day mission at the International Space Station (ISS), Dr. Yi completed an aggressive number of experiments contributing to South Korea’s science textbooks and science channel television lectures. During her historical return to earth on April 19, 2008, she survived a force of nearly 16-G (versus 4-G average) upon the ballistic re-entry. Due to re-entry complications, the first to welcome her return to earth were nomads in the plains of Kazakhstan.

Dr. Yi received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and her Ph.D. from KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). Her Ph.D. thesis is “DNA Separation Chips Using Temporal Asymmetric Ratchet Effect in NonUniform E-Fields”. In May 2014, Dr. Yi received her MBA with emphasis on Technology and Global Leadership at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Currently, Dr. Yi is working with Studio XID developing digital prototyping softwares as the Global Business Lead, and with Silicon Valley-based satellite startup, Loft Orbital Solutions Inc. as the strategic business development & international partnerships. Dr. Yi is passionate about nurturing the next generation of leaders in STEM; she is not only volunteering for various non-profits as an inspiring speaker but also lecturing at University of Washington and local community colleges. When she is not busy with her global speaking engagements, she enjoys singing, playing the piano, gardening, crafts and hiking.

Dr. Sarmistha Talukdar

Dr. Sarmistha Talukdar

Molecular Biologist and Autistic Self-Advocate

Dr. Sarmistha Talukdar is a neuroqueer, chronically ill immigrant, audio-visual experimental artist, and a postdoctoral scientist. They were awarded a gold medal in botany, a doctorate in biotechnology and are currently a postdoc analyzing novel ways to target cancer stem cells. They often reflect on the socio-political and intersectional issues of feminism, accessibility, non-conformity and emergent science. Through their art, they seek to connect with the audience, while navigating between logic, emotion, spiritual, traditional, and contemporary. They perform solo as Tavishi and improvise in Womajich Dialyseiz, a collective they initiated to provide creative space for women, non-binary and gender non-conforming artists. Their personal aim is to amalgamate science, art and music in a form that engages the audience, compels them towards action instead of apathy, provides space for catharsis, and bends the colonial constructs of linear space time.


Amanda Quirk

Amanda Quirk

Astronomy & Astrophysics PhD Candidate and Disability Advocate

Amanda Quirk is a PhD candidate in the Astronomy and Astrophysics department at UC: Santa Cruz. She studies the dynamics of stars in the nearby Triangulum and Andromeda galaxies and explores how these dynamics change as a function of stellar age. Amanda is passionate about increasing accessibility in STEM and advocating to create more space in STEM for people with disabilities. She founded the Graduate Disability Community Group at UCSC, which invites graduate students to come together to discuss their experiences and to gain support. After graduate school, Amanda plans to have a career in education with a focus on making classrooms and curricula more inclusive.


Julia Velasquez

Julia Velasquez

Aspiring Astronaut and Science Communicator

Julia Velasquez aspires to become the first Deaf Astronaut. As an undergraduate, Julia was selected to partake in two internships: the NASA Academy at the Goddard Space Flight Center and the Spaceflight and Lunar Sciences and Technology Programs (SLSTP) at the Kennedy Space Center. In 2017, Julia was selected as the first Deaf #StudentAstronaut for the science-based TV network Xploration Station, where she had the incredible opportunity to travel to Hawai’i to visit the Hawaiian Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Habitat to experience what life could be like on Mars. In 2018, Julia got her Sport Pilot License, becoming one of the few Deaf pilots in the world. As an aspiring Deaf astronaut, Julia strives to share with the world the importance of inclusivity in science and space exploration. To this day, Julia has traveled to over 30 countries and aims to visit every continent in the world.


Dr. Nicolas Bonne

Dr. Nicolas Bonne

Vision Impaired Astronomer and Public Engagement Specialist

Originally from Australia, Dr. Nicolas Bonne is a vision impaired astronomer and a Public Engagement and Outreach Fellow at the University of Portsmouth's Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation. Dr. Bonne currently leads the Science and Technologies Facility Council funded Tactile Universe public engagement project, which is developing free multi-sensory resources to help blind and vision impaired people engage with current topics in astronomy research. Dr. Bonne works with others on national and international scales to develop methods of communicating their science in more accessible ways.


Dr. Kumiko Usuda-Sato

Dr. Kumiko Usuda-Sato

and the IAU Symposium 358 Core Team
Dr. Kumiko Usuda-Sato is a PhD astronomer at the Public Relations Center of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). She works with visually impaired people to develop tactile models using a 3D printer and supervised the "Touch the Universe" special exhibit at the Tactile Museum of Japan Braille Library in 2018. She is also a member of the "Astronomy Sign Language Working Group" in Japan and was in charge of collecting the first 47 astronomy words in sign language in Japan, which are listed in the “Hands in the Stars” sign language project lead by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

Caroline Karbowski

Caroline Karbowski

CEO of See3D and Biology and Chemistry Student

Caroline Karbowski is from Cincinnati, OH and is a third-year undergraduate double majoring in Biology and Chemistry and minoring in Education at The Ohio State University. Her passion for 3D printing for people who are blind started with her desire to learn braille in 6th grade so she could read books in the car without becoming dizzy. After seeing how 3D printing could be used to make telescope and microscope images tactile and accessible, she became inspired to create See3D, which organizes the printing and distribution of 3D printed models for people who are blind. Caroline enjoys visiting schools for the blind, going to conventions, and sharing the ideas she has learned. Since SciAccess 2019,Carolinehas been a guest on WDLR “Off the Shelf”, spoken at the Independence Science Learning a New Direction Conference on Disability (IsLAND), published in the Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities (JSESD), written for Future Reflections, and presented at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference. She hopes by making the world more accessible, more people will be able to provide their unique perspective, which will benefit the learning of all.


 Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai

Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai

Head of Research and Chief Accessibility Officer of the Canadian National Institute of the Blind
Dr. Mahadeo Sukhai is the Head of Research and Chief Accessibility Officer of the Canadian National Institute of the Blind (CNIB). Dr. Sukhai is Canada’s only congenitally blind biomedical research scientist, and the world’s first congenitally blind geneticist. Dr. Sukhai’s research program focuses on indicators of social inclusion – particularly education, employment and technology use – for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted, as well as measurement of healthcare outcomes for the blind or partially sighted population. Dr. Sukhai is passionate about accessibility, inclusion and universal design in education – particularly science education – and in the workplace.

Kate Meredith

Kate Meredith

President of GLAS Education

Kate Meredith (former Director of Education at Yerkes Observatory) is part of a grassroots collaboration and educational non-profit called Geneva Lake Astrophysics and STEAM (GLAS Education), which was formed to continue Yerkes Observatory education and research after its closing in 2018. In addition to continuing former programs, GLAS has used the time of transition for Yerkes Observatory to focus on issues of equity and inclusiveness in STEM for people with disabilities. Recently, she launched the Sonification World Chat to bring together researchers and educators who are interested in sonification as a tool for data exploration and analysis, to share ideas, identify key issues in the field, and identify best practices. GLAS is also leading innovative new student projects in dark skies education and monitoring. Kate is an experienced classroom teacher and has written curriculum for the Skynet Robotic Telescope Network, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, and Lawrence Hall of Science. Kate continues to do work in curriculum development and authentic research and engineering design experiences for middle and high school students. GLAS Education is one of the founding members of the first IAU Regional Office of Astronomy for Development (ROAD) in North America. This recent designation will allow GLAS to serve its mission more effectively at the national and international levels.


Venkatesh Chari

Venkatesh Chari

Chief Technologist of Orbit Research
With a background in Electrical Engineering, Venkatesh Chari has worked for over 25 years in the development of technologies involved in mobile and assistive technology products, in roles spanning engineering, management and strategic marketing. At Orbit Research, his work has included the development of the Orion TI-84 Plus, the world’s first handheld talking graphing calculator and the Orbit Reader 20, the world’s first affordable refreshable braille display.

Lindsay Yazzolino

Lindsay Yazzolino

Tactile Design Specialist

Lindsay Yazzolino is an audio/tactile design consultant and air travel enthusiast who has worked in diverse fields ranging from brains to trains. Lindsay leverages both her professional background in cognitive neuroscience research and personal experience as a totally blind scientist to collaboratively develop products, such as exhibits and educational materials, which incorporate “hand-catching” tactile design and rich audio. She is enthusiastic about modern technologies, such as 3D printing and interactive touch screens, which are revolutionizing the design of multisensory interfaces. With these tools, Lindsay helps create interactive tangible experiences that are intuitive and fun. She also coordinates research studies of how diverse types of life experience shape brain and cognitive processes. A firm believer that outreach makes for better science, she constantly strives to connect scientists with individuals whose experiences they are interested in studying so that they can mutually benefit from each other's expertise.


Heather Tomko

Heather Tomko

Disability Advocate and Ms. Wheelchair USA 2018

Heather Tomko is the Outreach Coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh’s National Center on Family Support. Tomko is an alumna of Carnegie Mellon University, where she studied Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering, and the University of Pittsburgh, where she received her Masters of Public Health. In July 2018, Heather was crowned Ms. Wheelchair USA, and spent the year promoting her platform, “Increasing Inclusion for People with Disabilities into their Communities.

As a woman with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neuromuscular disease, Tomko is passionate about disability advocacy and access. She serves on the Board of Directors of CLASS, a local disability resources organization, and is the founder of Accessible YOUniverse (www.accessibleyouniverse.org), an organization focused on disability advocacy, education, and representation. Heather was the winner of the 2018 Dick Thornburgh Disability Service Award, which is awarded to a student at the University of Pittsburgh who has made a difference in the lives of children and adults with disabilities. She also blogs at The Heather Report (www.theheatherreport.com), where she talks about her life and what it’s like to live with a disability.


Senay Daniel

Senay Daniel

Entrepreneur and Community Advocate

Senay Daniel is an entrepreneur, professional, and community advocate with a focus on disability, race, and the intersection of the two. Senay is a fellow at Venture for America, a two-year fellowship program for recent grads who want to work at a startup and create jobs in American cities. Born and raised in the greater Columbus area, Senay graduated with honors from Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business in 2018 with a concentration in Management Information Systems. Senay is currently involved with several volunteering initiatives, including with Junior Achievement as a classroom volunteer guiding Columbus City Schools students through courses related to financial literacy, entrepreneurship, and career planning. Shortly before graduating college, Senay was inspired to begin work towards creating a support association for people of color with autism. In collaboration with his mentor, Karen Krainz Edison, Senay has worked to develop programming for the group, which will launch under the name Autism in Color in Summer 2020.