The Mount Lemmon SkyCenter seeks to strengthen interest in science and astronomy through premium educational and public outreach experiences. We boast a team of knowledgeable, enthusiastic and skilled staff, presenters and volunteers who pride themselves on delivering world-class experiences for visitors of all ages. Our program leaders generally have day jobs and are "moonlighting" at the SkyCenter because they love to share their own sense of wonder and excitement that can be explored through the space sciences. Come check us out!
The SkyCenter is always looking for new staff and volunteers. For more information, feel free to reach out using the contact information below
Alan Strauss, Ph.D., Director
Dr. Alan Strauss is the director of the Mt. Lemmon Sky Center and the UA Science Sky School. He earned his doctorate from the University of Arizona’s College of Education and has over 22 years administrative experience and 10 years teaching experience at the University. Alan is a native of Tucson and developed an interest in astronomy at an early age. He enjoys visual observing and sketching at the eyepiece, as well as taking wide-field photographs of the Milky Way. Among Alan’s favorite objects to observe are Mars, comets and eclipses. His most memorable visual observations are seeing the galactic jet in M87 (through the SkyCenter 32-inch telescope), the Venus Transit of 2012, and the total solar eclipse of 2017. Alan also serves as a NASA OSIRIS-REx Ambassador.
Vannessa Gressieux, Coordinator and Program Leader
In addition to her administrative role at the SkyCenter, Vannessa is a NASA Solar System Ambassador, as well as an OSIRIS-REx Ambassador. Vannessa has worked at the SkyCenter for 2.5 years and enjoys sharing the science and wonder of the nights skies with people of all ages. Originally from the East Coast, Vannessa fell in love with the dark skies of the Western US and appreciates the ability to see the milky way in the night sky. Vannessa encourages everyone to look up!
Debbie Federico, Office Specialist
Debbie supports the SkyCenter, as well as Steward Observatory’s Theoretical Astrophysics Program, PIRE, and the Steward Theory Group. She remembers watching “From the Earth to the Moon” miniseries and “The Right Stuff” with her dad when she was young. Then later, took Astrobiology courses, saw a photo of the Hubble Deep Field and has been mesmerized by the infinite wonders of space since. She spends most of her free-time with her son who currently wants to be an astronaut (or Iron Man, he is undecided). She also writes when inspiration strikes.
Travis Deyoe, Instructional Specialist, Sr.
Travis began working for the SkyCenter while an undergraduate at the UA studying astronomy. He graduated in May 2015, and has recently taken on an increased role in leading outreach programs . While a student he worked for the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium as a Planetarium Operator as well as a Telescope Operator at Steward Observatory's 61-inch Kuiper Telescope on top of Mount Bigelow. At the Kuiper Telescope he aided Dr. Betsy Green in research for exoplanets, supernovae, and sub-dwarf B and O stars. Travis enjoys imaging the night sky with his DSLR, and taking planetary images through SkyCenter telescopes. In addition to Astronomy, Travis enjoys working in community theater.
Rob has been a Program Leader at the SkyCenter since 2012 and running astronomy outreach programs for over 10 years. He currently works on the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) as the Telescope & Site Software Test Engineer, where he is responsible for testing the software that will control the telescope. Rob graduated from the University of Maine in 2003 with a BS in Physics. He moved to Tucson that same summer to attend the Graduate School in Physics at the University of Arizona. He left two years later to work on the UA led NASA Phoenix Mars Lander Mission where he worked on the Payload Interoperability Testbed as a Test Engineer. In addition to his work, Rob enjoys playing Ultimate Frisbee and spending time with his wife and two daughters.
Alessandro Cavallaro, Ph.D.
Alessandro is an Engineer at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) where he works on the Adaptive Optics systems. Originally from Italy, Alessandro studied in Electrical Engineering and earned a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering. Alessandro is enthusiastic about his work as a presenter and is an accomplished night sky photographer. He loves to talk about science and astronomy (and being Italian, food of course!). His favorite astronomical memories are solar eclipses and... the first time he saw Saturn from the SkyCenter telescopes!
Gustavo has more than 20 years of experience in instrumentation for astronomy, mostly in the area of CCDs and infrared detectors. He is an electrical engineer, with a master's degree in Imaging Science from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and is currently the Laser Systems Engineer for the ARGOS project at the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory. Previously he has worked at NOAO, ESO (Germany and Chile) and Caltech. Gustavo was born and raised in Chile, which is host to many of the worlds largest astronomical observatories due to the clarity and darkness of the night sky in the Atacama Desert.
Singleton is a geologist working as an Operations Engineer for the UA led Mars HiRISE Mission, in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. She has a background in art and science and has a wide variety of experience in food service, geology, hydrology, environmental science, and most recently planetary sciences. She spends her days taking pictures of the Martian surface and learning more about what geology looks like on other planets. Her interest in astronomy comes from a desire to explore our vast universe and contemplate where we will explore next.
Tracie has a lifelong love of astronomy and the night sky. She has been working in education outreach for both the general public and K-12 schools for the past 10 years. She holds an AS in Physics from Eastern Arizona College, where she graduated with honors and received awards in both physics and chemistry. For six years she was a docent for Mt. Graham International Observatory, home of the Large Binocular Telescope, the largest optical and infrared telescope in the world. Over the years she has had the privilege of working alongside teachers to help build and present STEM curriculum in the classroom as well as for science camps throughout southern Arizona.
Tommy is a student at the University of Arizona who will be graduating with a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering in December. Tommy is currently involved with testing and designing elements of the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) and the Magellan Telescopes for Steward Observatory. He enjoys stargazing, brewing, playing guitar, watching weird movies, and listening to weirder music. Tommy is an Arizona native and his favorite celestial objects are exoplanets, normal planets, and planetary nebula.
Ben has been a volunteer in public outreach and astronomy for 8 years and has been with the Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter since February 2017. A southern California native, his love for astronomy and education brought him to Tucson. With a degree in Physics, Ben currently works as a software engineer. His hobbies outside astronomy and astrophotography include motorsports and hiking.
Barry was a graduate student in the neurosciences, when he traveled to the Galapagos Islands and fell in love with the natural world and writing. He has over 30 years teaching natural history and astronomy on an outreach basis on expedition voyages to the Galápagos Islands and the Antarctic. He is also an astrophotographer, a nature photographer, and the author of A Traveler’s Guide to the Galápagos Islands. Barry has just completed a new nonfiction book called Astronomy & Natural History Connections: From Darwin to Einstein, available as an e-Book. His astrophotography and nature photography can be seen on www.barryboyce.com.
Bill has been observing the stars and interpreting the wonders of the cosmos for half a century. He was a national Science Fair winner, and while still in high school, Bill was hired by NASA to find and image faint quasars at the centers of distant galaxies. While pursuing an advanced degree in astrophysics as an intern at Goddard Space Flight Institute, he also teamed with astronauts in orbit to image and document Comet Kohoutek (1973f). Inspired by the enthusiasm of young people, Bill subsequently embarked on a 20-year career as a high school physics teacher and considers that experience to be a lifetime highlight.