Amber Richard

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Amber Richard is an award-winning fine artist known for her portraits and landscapes. At Hawaiicon she’s bringing that expertise to the art of melding science and scifi. Join her for “Painting with a Twist” and “Drinking While Drawing”, for step-by-step, foolproof instruction to create your own painting Hawaiicon-style.  Bring your own beverage. Aloha, not artistic talent, required.

Candee Ellsworth

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Dr. Candee Ellsworth is the Executive Director of Friends of NELHA, the Natural Energy Laboratory Hawaii Authority.  Prior to coming to Big Island Candee spent nearly 20 years working as a Conservation Biologist focusing on island biodiversity/island ecosystems and conservation science. Her mission at NELHA is to provide education and outreach related to the lab’s innovative enterprises, which include developing renewable energy resources, desalination, and growing shrimp, sea horses, abalone, lobster, oysters, ocean fish, and micro algae.

Carrie Cole

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Dr. Carrie Cole teaches Integrative Theater Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she focuses on performance and popular culture, specifically staging science fiction, and fan studies. Her written works can be found in “Hollywood Chemistry: When Science Met Entertainment”, “Transformative Works and Cultures”, “Popular Entertainment: Performance and Spectacle, Culture and Competition.” Her other recent artistic projects include a new stage adaption of H. G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds” and a collaboration with the creators of the graphic novels “KILL SHAKESPEARE”. Carrie is a well-known expert in “found object fighting”, which means that she is the one who can teach you how to kill someone with a teacup.

Charles Camosy

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Dr. Charles Camosy is associate professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University. His work on ethics and policy moves beyond stale and lazy arguments which artificially pit liberals and conservatives against each other. Instead, Camosy finds common ground by unpacking  the real complexities of some of today's most passionately debated issues. In this year, the 40th anniversary of the epic that is Star Wars, Charles brings his expertise to the most important of fan concerns, namely, who exactly is in charge of the Star Wars universe, and on what basis do they have the authority to make Greedo shoot first?

Cheryl Gansecki

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Dr. Cheryl Gansecki, volcano-crazy since early childhood, is a volcanologist, with a Ph.D. from Stanford University. Her research includes volcanoes in Hawaii, Greece and Yellowstone National Park. She has worked as a geologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory mapping lava flows on Mauna Loa. Cheryl is co-owner and president of Volcano Video Productions. She is the primary game inventor, video editor and producer, and also shoots volcano footage, takes care of the web page, and more. You have probably seen her on many different TV programs on the major networks, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, and others, as well as at a number of museums including the American Museum of Natural History. She is an affiliate faculty member at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. She and husband Ken have two daughters.

Christian Wong

Christian Wong serves the island community as the Executive Director of the Hawaii Science and Technology Museum, an organization dedicated to the belief that every child deserves to receive a solid STEM education and that the future prosperity of our community and nation depend upon cultivating our next generation of innovators. Christian has additionally served this community for over 22 years as a fireman with the Hawaii Fire Department, earning multiple awards for his service on his way to the rank of Fire Capitan. In his off-duty hours Christian coaches the Mechaneers Robotics Team, plays tenor sax for Hawaii County Band, and tries to keep up with his wife and too (very!) active children. He loves all things Trek, especially Scottie, and strongly believes that Greedo shot first.

Cindy Fong

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In addition to being a well-known advocate for effective STEM education in Hawaii, Cindy Fong has been honored multiple times with awards for her creativity and enthusiasm in engaging students in science curricula in exciting and meaningful ways. As a reformed geologist who has served as an on-board education expert on the JOIDES Resolution, Cindy is a state lead in expanding robotics and science competition experiences to a wider body of Hawaii Island students.

David Raikow

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Dr. David Raikow is the aquatic ecologist of the Pacific Island Network of the Inventory and Monitoring Division of the U.S. National Park Service. His job is to collect data on ecosystem status and trends, and report that data to parks. David works in all the parks in the pacific, collecting data on groundwater, water quality, streams, and anchialine pools. Stationed at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park on the big island of Hawai’i, his work takes him the ecosystems of Maui, Moloka’i, Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa.

Derek Buzasi

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Dr. Derek Buzasi’s research interests include almost anything having to do with stars. He began by studying various aspects of stellar activity, such as spots, flares, and winds, and has done both observations and theoretical work, including radiative transfer modeling and magnetohydrodynamic models of stellar flux tubes. More recently, he has moved from studying stellar atmospheres and environments to studying stellar interiors and convection through the use of astroseismology. Derek is also a reserve Navy Engineering Duty Officer, with the rank of commander, assigned to Pearl Harbor.

Donna Governor

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Dr. Donna Governor is a science education maven with more than 30 years of experience working in science classrooms, training current and future science teachers, and in 2007 she received the Presidential Award for Science Teaching. She works with a broad range of STEM-education entities, including NASA, NSF, PBS, the Jason Project, Lockheed Martin, and now: Hawaiicon Science Track! The author of Big Data, Small Devices: Investigating the Natural World Using Real-Time Data, and the organizer of the Dahlonega Science Café, Donna has been sharing her love for science education and the scifi/fantasy world at scifi conventions for decades.

Dustin McGinnis

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Dustin McGinnis is a musician, filmmaker, author, proud Gryffindor, and life-long Star Wars fan.  He worked on the award-winning Star Wars fan Film The Sable Corsair.  He works as a PR manager for Superhero Therapy and volunteers his spare time helping promote and support the Pop Culture Hero Coalition.

Heather Preston

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Heather Preston is the Planetarium Director at the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium in Fort Myers, Florida. Heather is a distinguished member of Mensa and a published researcher in in astroseismology, gas dynamics and computational fluid dynamics and recently studying P-mode oscillations in the Hyades galactic star cluster. Moreover, she can describe the curious wonders of the Universe in English, French, Spanish, and even Russian, and manage it all in the dark of a planetarium!

Hilo Viking Robotics

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Returning to Hawaiicon for the fourth consequetive year, the mission of Hilo Viking Robotics is to provide students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the fields of science and engineering, while building self confidence, knowledge, and life skills. HVR promotes robotics throughout our community by providing mentors and helping to establish a robotic club in schools in our area. Hilo Viking Robotics provides a learning program during school intersessions that introduce students at a young age the basics of robotics and allowing them to expand their knowledge and innovation to create a robot of their own. Join them again this year for the Robotics Build Workshop, or buy into the HVR Robotic Sweet 16, where the HVR team will train you to drive a robot before letting you battle other Hawaiicon guests to win fame and glory, and a nice prize package!

Janina Scarlet

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Dr. Janina Scarlet is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, a scientist, and a full-time geek. A Ukrainian-born refugee, she survived Chernobyl radiation and persecution. She immigrated to the United States at the age of 12 with her family and later, inspired by the X-Men, developed Superhero Therapy to help patients with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Her book, “Superhero Therapy” released on December 1, 2016 in the U.K. and on August 1, 2017 in the U.S.

Jason T. Eberle

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Dr. Jason T. Eberle is the Semler Endowed Chair for Medical Ethics at Marian University. Jason is interested in the thought of the 13th century philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas and how his theories of human nature and morality may inform the ethical evaluation of various issues in medical ethics, including those at the margins of human life, such as cloning, genetic enhancement, and the creation of human/non-human chimeras. His recently work has included ethical analysis of various forms of enhancing human capabilities. His books include: The Ultimate Star Wars and Philosophy: You Must Unlearn What You Have Learned, Star Wars and Philosophy: More Powerful than You Can Possibly Imagine, Battlestar Galactica and Philosophy: Knowledge Here Begins Out There, Sons of Anarchy and Philosophy: Brains Before Bullets, and Star Trek and Philosophy: The Wrath of Kant.

Kala Perkins

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Kala Perkins began her early career in psychology and creative arts therapies in L.A.. From there after her first visit to India, she worked and studied in New York going from neuroscience to peace and conflict education and UN Studies. Returning for another nine years in Asia, she worked and travelled, seeking to understand our human nature, social and political systems and world cultures. After two years in Mongolia building cultural bridges after the close of the Cold War, with a passion in astronomy and cosmology she did research and taught in Australia inspiring students and artist with the cosmological perspective and insights. she completed an Environmental Science Master (Cosmic Ecology, ANU), in conjunction with research and teaching in Australia, focused at the science-arts-psychology nexus. Returning to the US, she taught and completed two further masters: in Bioethics, and at Graduate Theological Union Master of Divinity with Starr King in Berkeley, California and the Interfaith Chaplaincy Institute, focused on social justice. She is currently privileged to be doing chaplaincy, with Pacific Health Ministry here at Pali Momi Hospital. Teaching meditation and mindfulness practices to both students in the schools and to adult practitioners, in conjunction with a lifelong practice, and teaching at the science and spirit nexus, is something she continues.

Ken Hon

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Dr. Ken Hon is a volcanologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado. He has done extensive research on both active and ancient volcanoes around the United States and in Russia. He spent three years as the staff volcanologist at the USGS - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, where he experienced firsthand the devastating impact of volcanic eruptions as the town of Kalapana was destroyed by lava flows. Ken works with his wife Cheryl, another volcanologist, to create video of active volcanoes which you have probably seen on many different TV programs on the major networks, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel, and others, as well as at a number of museums including the American Museum of Natural History. Ken is a full-time professor at the University of Hawaii, Hilo.

Koa Rice

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Koa Rice is a long-standing expert on indigenous science and is passionate about using Hawaiian cultural knowledge to engage students in learning contemporary science.  A resident on the east-side of Big Island, she frequently interacts with schools and communities across the Big Island of Hawai`i and serves as a cultural liaison between the academic scientific community and cultural thought leaders. is a long-standing expert on indigenous science and is passionate about using Hawaiian cultural knowledge to engage students in learning contemporary science.  A resident on the east-side of Big Island, she frequently interacts with schools and communities across the Big Island of Hawai`i and serves as a cultural liaison between the academic scientific community and cultural thought leaders.

Larry Morris

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Larry Morris A Georgia Tech graduate and software professional by training, Larry is perhaps better known for his work providing vocals and playing the pennywhistle in the well-known Celtic band Emerald Rose, having performed to capacity crowds at festivals and other venues such as Dragon*Con, and at the Oscars cast parties for "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" and "Return of the King". The songwriter behind other fandom favorites like "Vampire Girl from Orn" and "Chicken Raid of Cymru,” Larry is also known as the artist behind Professor Boggs, performing science songs that teach K-12 science. Join Larry at the Science Track filking session, and bring whatever instrument you might favor for jamming Hawaiicon-style.

Lou Mayo

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Lou Mayo is a NASA Astronomer and professor of astronomy at Marymount University. Hosting star parties since he was a kid, Lou now studies the solar system, primarily using instruments on Cassini and Voyager. He uses the invisible light of the infrared spectrum to explore the atmospheres of distant planets and moons. Lou is also an aikido sensei, with particular interest in the role that the aikido played in the development of jedi practices.

Mahealani Maikuʻi

Mahealani Maikuʻi serves as the Executive Director of the Hamakua Youth Center, a grassroots community organization dedicated to creating nurturing, stimulating and enjoyable programs for youth of the Hamakua District. Mahealaniʻs mission is to insure that guided by Hawaiian traditions and values, the Hamakua Youth Center engages local youth in leadership training, environmental stewardship, music, visual arts, recreational activities, and exploration of the many cultures represented in our area. This year Mahealani is warmly welcomed to Hawaiicon, where she will bring her expertise into action, guiding the Hamakua keiki as they introduce con-goers to the arts and science of Big Island.

Megan Parker

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Megan Parker’s fiction and poetry have been published or are forthcoming in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Fiolet and Wing: An Anthology of Domestic Fabulism, as well as The Penmen Review, in which her flash fiction piece “A Good Thing” placed third in the 2016 SNHU Fall Fiction Competition. Most recently, her short story “The Woman Who Devours the Land” was published in Harpur Palate, and follows the mental collapse of a teenage girl in the Kaumana Caves in Hilo, HI. Her forthcoming story “Biddlecom Sweeney,” which will be published in The Sonder Review, explores identity, love, and absolution through a Southern Gothic lens; she even went so far as to swipe the titular character’s name from a nineteenth-century tombstone in the historic South. Currently, Megan is completing her Master's thesis—a young adult paranormal/urban fantasy novel—and editing for The Passed Note, a YA literary journal. She can be found lurking on twitter when she should be writing.

Sawyer Slater

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Sawyer Slater grew up attending the young adult and kids activities at many cons, and is now passing on those experiences to the keiki who attend Hawaiicon. She has served on young adult literature panels and as a presenter at numerous conventions and speaks equally well on the hero's journeys of superheroes, the subtleties of Pokeman battle tactics, and the psychological significance of My Little Pony Cutie-Marks.

Sharon Schleigh

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Dr. Sharon Schleigh is a Professor of Science Education at East Carolina University, where she works with future and current teachers to build and use telescopes to explore the night sky with their students. A Big Island native and proud graduate of Hilo High School, Sharon has spent nearly thirty years sharing her expertise in science education through her work with the National Science Teachers Association, her research publications, and hands-on, minds-on educational experiences.

Stephanie Slater

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Dr. Stephanie Slater is a cognitive scientist specializing in how people of all ages and backgrounds learn to navigate the intersection of science and culture.  She is the Director of the CAPER Center for Astronomy & Physics Education Research where her work often focuses on the pathways that are most effective at bringing people who don’t often go into science, into science. She frequently speaks at cons on the ways that science, culture and art interact in the SciFi world, and she is a passionate, amateur seamstress of cosplay attire. Her four children and three extraordinary granddaughters can often be seen making her (sometimes award winning) costumes come to life. Stephanie helms much of the Science Track at Hawaiicon, and believes that this setting allows for a blending of science, science fiction and culture that is completely unique in the con-world.

Tania Burchell

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Tania Burchell is a Harvard-educated astronomer with a science communications career spanning two decades, two continents and all media. You may have seen her on TV or YouTube in her work for NASA, NRAO, the Smithsonian and the National Space Centre. She’s an active cosplayer, filker and science fiction writer, was certified for archaeological fieldwork in the UK, and spent a couple of years as a Park Ranger with the Florida DEP, caring for endangered animals. In addition to “being loud” at this year’s science panels, Tania will host Science Track’s late night “Milk and Cookies,” and will MC the cosplay extravaganza that is the Mos Eisley Cantina. Bring your PJs, and your scum and villainy.

Tim Slater

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Dr. Tim Slater is the University of Wyoming Excellence in Higher Education Endowed Chair of Science Education.  Known as “the professor’s professor” because he has tirelessly taught many professional scientists how to teach, Professor Slater is an avid motorcycle rider and marksman, the author on more than 100 scientific journal articles, the winner of numerous awards, and frequently a keynote speaker on how scientists can better communicate to make their science more popular. He and his wife are the happy stewards of many acres of sweet potatoes growing on the slopes of Maunakea.