Jack Clemons

Jack Clemons is a published author with a Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering. He was an engineer and team leader on NASA’s Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs. He also appeared in the “Command Module” segment of Moon Machines, the Discovery Science Channel’s award-winning six-part documentary about the Apollo Program, and in the National Geographic Channel documentary Apollo: Back To The Moon.

His award-winning book Safely to Earth: The Men and Women Who Brought the Astronauts Home, a memoir of his time on NASA’s Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, was published by University Press of Florida in September 2018.

He has authored several works of historical fiction and science fiction and is an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. 

In 2018, he was awarded an Established Artist Fellowship Grant for Literary Fiction by the Delaware Division of the Arts for his short stories that are based on his hidden-history novel, The Outliers (Secant Publishing, 2021). 

Jack is a frequent speaker at events across the Mid-Atlantic region—including RavenCon, Balticon, and the SFWA tent at the Baltimore Book Festival. Topics he covers include the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, science, science fiction, and historical fiction. He also does readings from The Outliers at these and other venues.

Christopher A. Jones

Chris is an aerospace engineer at the NASA Langley Research Center, and a science enthusiast with a concentration in building a better future for humanity. His areas of expertise include systems analysis for human and science space concepts, decision science, play-by-play announcing of robotics competitions, and the board game Terraforming Mars. His areas of anti-expertise include most of his golf game, anything connected to musical performance, artistic expression outside of PowerPoint, and spelling the word restaurant. Outside of work, he is the staff to two cats, and enjoys word games, racquetball, and live music in divey venues.

Jason Kirk

Jason Kirk is an aerospace engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. He works on making air travel greener through electrification, as well as researching exotic aircraft designs. When his head isn’t in the clouds with airplanes, it’s down in the weeds of his favorite hobbies which include tabletop RPGs, HEMA (historically accurate fencing), rock climbing, and homebrewing beer.

N.A. Ratnayake

Nalin Ratnayake is an engineer, educator, and writer presently living in Hampton Roads, VA. He has worked as a computational aerodynamicist on various advance air and space vehicles. He also completed an M.Ed. focused on the intersection of scientific literacy and social justice, and spent five years teaching physics and building STEM programs in urban public schools. He currently works for the Science Flight Project Office on a NASA climate science mission intended to launch in 2023.

Nalin writes fiction under the name N.A. Ratnayake. His speculative fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres Magazine as well as the post-colonial SF anthology We See A Different Frontier. His short story “Remembering Turinam” received an honorable mention in Gardner Dozois’s The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Thirty-First Edition. Nalin’s Mars novel, Red Soil Through Our Fingers, explores a future of corporate-controlled space settlement.

You can find Nalin online at naratnayake.com.

Dr. Yolanda Shea

Dr. Yolanda Shea is an atmospheric scientist at NASA Langley Research Center and is the science lead for a climate science mission that will take unique high-accuracy measurements of sunlight reflected by Earth. This reflected sunlight will carry critical information back to the instrument in space and will be used to better understand Earth’s climate and improve the accuracy of other satellite instruments. When Yolanda isn’t doing the science, you may find her walking around with her face pointed to the sky looking for fun clouds and colorful atmospheric phenomena like rainbows and sundogs, knitting socks, or following the commands of her cat.

Matt Simon

Dr. Matthew Simon is a Habitation Design Lead at NASA Langley Research Center. He designs space habitats to support astronauts for missions to the Moon and Mars. Matt also has interests in the colonization of space and architecture for extreme environments. When not working, you’ll find Matt digging into science fiction and fantasy novels, sampling fine anime, or nerding out board gaming. Matt appears at this event in his personal capacity as an earthling; no official NASA endorsement is intended or should be implied.

Dr. Laura White

Laura White is an Aerospace Engineer at NASA Langley Research Center. She received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Arkansas State University in 2013. In 2018, she received her doctorate in mathematics from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Upon completion of her doctoral program, she entered the government workforce at NASA Langley Research Center where she applies knowledge from both her undergraduate and graduate studies. She currently works on statistical applications of quantifying uncertainties that exist within the governing mathematical equations of fluid flow around aerospace vehicles. She spends her days trying to answer the question: “Given the assumptions we make to describe this aerodynamic flow; how do we quantify the discrepancy between reality and the mathematical model?”. Other areas of interest are in-space robotic assembly and surrogate modeling for database management. She is also passionate about women’s equality in the workforce and currently serves as the lead of the women’s employee resource group at Langley. In her free time, you can find her getting lost in an epic fantasy book, hiking strenuous trails, rock climbing, running, or quad skating at the local skate park. 

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