April 26-28, 2024 – Richmond, VA

Category: Science Guest

Jim Beall

Jim Beall (BS-Math, MBA, PE) has been a nuclear engineer for 50 years, beginning as a nuclear engineering officer in the US Navy. Civilian experience includes design, construction, inspection, enforcement, and assessment with a nuclear utility, an architect engineering firm, and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC). Assignments included on-site health physics support, piping design stress analyses, reactor licensing, reactor startup testing (Canadian Point Lepreau heavy water reactor), research reactor inspections, and an assist mission to the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine in Kiev. USNRC positions included reactor site construction senior resident inspector (SRI), reactor operations SRI, inspection team leader, safety analyst, senior enforcement specialist, and reactor policy assistant to three different Presidential-appointed USNRC Commissioners while earning the agency’s Meritorious and Distinguished Service awards.

Duties of those policy-level posts included research into alternative and speculative energy sources, as well as energy forecasts and transmission technologies. Energy sources included coal, oil, hydro, geothermal, tidal, solar, wind, fracking, space-based, heavy water reactors, breeder reactors, fusion, and even anti-matter.

Coauthor of Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS) paper, “Ecological Engineering Considerations for ISU’s Worldship Project” and also Elsevier’s “Interstellar Travel: Purpose and Motivations.” Baen Books (baen.com) has published several of his non-fiction articles on a variety of subjects, including:

  • “Our Worldship Broke!”
  • “Case Studies in Handwavium”
  • “From Corvus to Keyhole—Shipyards: Past, Present, and Science Fiction”
  • “Radium Girls of Science and Science Fiction”
  • “Grid Wars: Innovation, Feuds, Rivalry, and Revenge in the Never-ending Battle to Electrify America and the Planet”
  • “Atomic Follies”
  • “Warships of Sea and Space – Part 1”
  • “Warships of Sea and Space – Part 2”
  • “Recycling: From Stars to Starships”
  • “Borders: From the First Sumerians to the Last Starfighter”
  • “Artificial Intelligence: Myth, Fiction, and Future”

Annie Davis

Ann has just retired from spending the last 40 years working in public education as a School Psychologist and Special Education administer. She is married to the infamous Dr. Ben and attempts to keep him from getting into too much trouble. Currently she is taking courses through the OLLI program, diamond painting, and hanging out with her two furbabies, CJ and Boomer.

Dr. Ben Davis

Ben Davis has a Ph.D. in Nuclear Physics and an M.S. in Nuclear Astrophysics from the University of Notre Dame. He taught at the college level for several years on a number of technical subjects ranging from computer programming and math to, of course, astronomy and physics. In the late nineties, he took up a career in software and industrial controls engineering (robot programming and electronics are as fun as they seem). As a lifelong fan of science fiction, his main avocations now involve history, futurism, and skepticism. When not traveling with his wife, playing with his dogs, climbing rocks, or attending cons, he spends his spare time pondering general relativity, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the effects of antimatter on the dark matter/dark energy problem. Sometimes, he hunts for true psychics, ghosts, and other paranormal phenomenon to no avail.

Brian Cory Dobbs

Brian Cory Dobbs is an award-winning filmmaker, award-winning screenwriter, songwriter, recording artist, and web strategist. He recently released Blue Planet Red, an award-winning film on the history, evidence for life, and catastrophes that contributed to the death of Mars. See more of his work at BrianDobbs.com.

Rebecca Gibson, PhD

Rebecca Gibson is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her published works include Desire in the Age of Robots and AI: An Investigation in Science Fiction and Fact (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019) and The Corseted Skeleton: A Bioarchaeology of Binding (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020), Global Perspectives on the Liminality of the Supernatural: From Animus to Zombi (Lexington Books, 2022), and The Bad Corset: A Feminist Reimagining (Bloomsbury 2024). She holds a PhD in Anthropology from American University, and when not writing or teaching can be found reading mystery novels amidst a pile of stuffed animals.

Jason T. Graves

Jason is a writer of words, a doodler of drawings, and fixer of other peoples’ words and doodles. Many years ago, he founded Prospective Press. Before that, he slogged through University and earned a Master of Science degree in the Arcana of Genetics. Oh, and he was once punched—lightly—by Muhammad Ali. You should ask him about that last one, because no one ever does.

Dr. Dea Mozingo-Gorman

Dr. Diana Mozingo-Gorman has worked as an archaeologist, anthropologist, and paleoethnobotanist for 25 years. Although she specializes in Prehistoric Southeastern Archaeology, she has worked around the world exploring topics such as ritual sacrifice and burial, the archaeology of shamanism and witchcraft, and the origins of myth and legends. She’s been interviewed for archaeological segments on both CNN and The History Channel. Dedicated to wildlife conservation and world literacy, she actively participates in outreach programs with Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International and The United Way.

Diana is married, is mother to three cats, calls 21 lowland gorillas friends, and lives in North Carolina. In her spare time, she works on restoring her historic home, and filling the bookshelves in its big old library.

Brent “EvilPenguin” Roeder

Brent Roeder, PhD, is a neuroscience researcher that is exploring how to restore damaged memory function. A lifelong geek, he enjoys writing sci-fi and fantasy to relax from work. Very occasionally he even remembers to finish a story.

Alan Smale

Alan Smale writes alternate and twisted history, and hard SF. His novella of a Roman invasion of ancient America, “A Clash of Eagles”, won the Sidewise Award, and related novels Clash of Eagles, Eagle in Exile, and Eagle and Empire (2015-2017) are available from Penguin Random House/Del Rey. His Roman baseball collaboration with Rick Wilber, The Wandering Warriors, came out from WordFire Press in 2020, and Hot Moon, his alternate-Apollo “technothriller with heart” set entirely on and around the Moon, was launched by Caezik SF & Fantasy in 2022, with sequel Radiant Sky scheduled for release in August 2024. Alan has also sold over forty stories to Asimov’s and other magazines and anthologies, and his short story “Gunpowder Treason” earned him a second Sidewise Award in 2022. His non-fiction essays have appeared in Lightspeed, Journey Planet, and Galaxy’s Edge.

Alan grew up in Yorkshire, England, earned degrees in Physics and Astrophysics from Oxford University, and moved to the U.S. in his late twenties. Until recently he performed astronomical research at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and served as director of an astrophysical data archive. He also sings bass with high-energy vocal band The Chromatics, and is co-creator of their educational AstroCappella project, spreading astronomy through a cappella in schools across the country.

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