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NIAC External Council (NEC)
Dr. Penny Boston Dr. Penny Boston

Dr. Penelope Boston is a Professor of Cave and Karst Science and Director of Cave & Karst Studies in the Dept. of Earth & Environmental Science at New Mexico Tech, Socorro, New Mexico. She is also Associate Director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute in Carlsbad, NM. Her areas of research include geomicrobiology of extreme environments especially in the subsurface, microbial life in highly mineralized environments, unique or characteristic biominerals and biosignature detection, astrobiology, and the potential for life on exoplanets. Cave formation mechanisms on other planetary bodies is a topic of particular interest. Her background includes geology, microbiology, atmospheric chemistry, global biogeochemical cycling, and climate/life interactions. Boston is a lifelong advocate of human space missions particularly to the planet Mars. She is passionate about and extensively involved in educational outreach about cave and karst issues, astrobiology, space exploration, and general science for school kids, older students, elder groups, and the general public. Dr. Boston's extensive background is available on her website:

Dr. David Brin Dr. David Brin

Dr. David Brin is a scientist, speaker, technical consultant and world-known author. His novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. His 1989 ecological thriller, Earth, foreshadowed global warming, cyberwarfare and near-future trends such as the World Wide Web*. A 1998 movie, directed by Kevin Costner, was loosely based on The Postman. Brin serves on advisory committees dealing with subjects as diverse as national defense and homeland security, astronomy and space exploration, SETI and nanotechnology, future/prediction and philanthropy. His non-fiction book -- The Transparent Society: Will Technology Make Us Choose Between Freedom and Privacy? -- deals with secrecy in the modern world. It won the Freedom of Speech Prize from the American Library Association. As a public "scientist/futurist" David appears frequently on TV, including "The Universe" and the History Channel's best-watched show "Life After People." He also was a regular cast member on "The ArciTECHS." Brin's scientific work covers an eclectic range of topics, from astronautics, astronomy, and optics to alternative dispute resolution and the role of neoteny in human evolution. His Ph.D in Physics from UCSD - the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) - followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Space Institute and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. His patents directly confront some of the faults of old-fashioned screen-based interaction, aiming to improve the way human beings converse online. Additional details about Dr. Brin's accomplishments can be found on his website:

Dr. Robert Cassanova Dr. Robert A. Cassanova
Chair of the NIAC External Council

Dr. Cassanova is currently a consultant to private research organizations and government agencies. He was the Director of the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC) located in Atlanta, Georgia from February 1998 to August 2007. The NIAC was focused on the development of revolutionary, advanced systems and architectures in the fields of aeronautics and space. . The NIAC was an independent institute sponsored by NASA and contracted through the Universities Space Research Association. Dr. Cassanova coordinated the operation of NIAC at the highest levels of NASA HQ and the NASA Centers. He is the recipient of the NASA Public Service Medal for exceptional contributions to the Mission of NASA. The NIAC team, including members from USRA, ANSER Corporation and NASA received the NASA Group Achievement Award. Dr. Cassanova expanded on the synergisms of art and science to build a highly acclaimed organization that encourages visionary investigators to explore revolutionary concepts stretching the possibilities of future scientific breakthroughs. Prior to becoming the Director of NIAC, Dr. Cassanova was Director of the Aerospace and Transportation Laboratory in the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). While in GTRI and in the School of Aerospace Engineering at Georgia Tech, he performed research in biofluid mechanics, solar thermal energy, acoustics, combustion and rarefied gasdynamics. He career also includes research in rocket plume testing and high altitude hypersonic flight at the Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, Tennessee. He remains a dedicated creator of black and white photographic images on silver gelatin paper produced in a conventional, wet chemical darkroom. Dr. Cassanova has a serious passion for photography and integrates the visualization process for science and art into his lectures on revolutionary creativity.

His photography has been exhibited in the American Center for Physics, Ridderhoff-Martin Gallery, Annie D. Boykin Gallery, Hobson Pittman Memorial Gallery and the American Embassy in Lima, Peru. A sampling of his photographs can be viewed on the website:

Dr. John Cramer Dr. John Cramer

Dr. John G. Cramer is a Professor of Physics at the University of Washington. When not teaching, he works with the STAR (Solenoidal Tracker At RHIC) detector at the new Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the particle accelerator at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland. He is currently engaged in experiments at the University of Washington to test retrocausality by using a version of the delayed choice quantum eraser without coincidence counting. This experiment, if successful, would imply that entanglement can be used to send a signal instantaneously between two distant locations (or a message backwards in time from the apparatus to itself). Such "spooky communication" experiments have never been successfully conducted, and only attempted a limited number of times, since most physicists believe that they would violate the no-communication theorem. However, a small number of scientists (Cramer among them) believe that there is no physical law prohibiting such communication. In addition to his many scientific publications, John Cramer writes a regular column, "The Alternate View", for Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine; Cramer's column alternates with those of Jeffrey Kooistra. He also originated and published a paper on "The Transactional Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics" (TIQM) in July 1986, which is inspired from the Wheeler-Feynman Time-symmetric theory. His published novels consist of Twistor (1989) and Einstein's Bridge (1997); both within the hard science fiction genre. Dr. Cramer's extensive background is available on his website at

Dr. Frank Drake Dr. Frank Drake

Dr. Frank Drake, who conducted the first modern SETI experiment in 1960, continues his life-long interest in the detection of extraterrestrial sentient life. He participates in an on-going search for optical signals of intelligent origin, carried out with colleagues from Lick Observatory and the University of California at Berkeley, using the 40-inch Nickel telescope at Lick. Dr. Drake also continues to investigate radio telescope designs that optimize the chances of success for SETI (he proposed the plan used in the design of the Allen Telescope Array, based on some of his work of more than forty years ago.) He is also interested in the possibility that the very numerous red dwarf stars, stars that are much less bright than the Sun, might host habitable planets. In this regard, he has noted that the behavior of various objects in our own solar system – in particular the resonances between their rotation and orbital periods – when applied to some of the newly discovered extrasolar planets, strongly suggests that most planets orbiting red dwarfs will not keep one face towards their star, and thus are more likely to be habitable. If this is proven correct, it will increase by almost ten times the probable number of habitable planets in the Milky Way.

Dr. Franklin Martin Dr. Franklin D. Martin

Dr. Frank Martin is president of Martin Consulting, Inc., which provides independent review and consulting services to aerospace projects. Dr. Martin has also been working with 4-D Systems since 2002. Sponsored by NASA’s Office of the Chief Engineer’s Academy of Program/Project and Engineering Leadership (APPEL), the major focus of 4-D Systems is performance enhancement for NASA teams. Dr. Martin is a lead 4-D workshop presenter and serves as an adviser to Charlie Pellerin, president of 4-D Systems. His career with NASA and Lockheed Martin includes Science Mission Operations on Apollo 16 and Apollo 17; director, Solar Terrestrial and Astrophysics at NASA Headquarters (included the Sounding Rocket and Balloon Programs); GSFC director for space and earth science; NASA deputy associate administrator, space station; NASA associate administrator for human exploration, and director, space systems and engineering, civil space for Lockheed Martin, with responsibility for the Hubble servicing missions, Space Infrared Telescope Facility (Spitzer), Lunar Prospector, and Gravity Probe-B. Dr. Martin resigned from NASA in 1990 and retired from Lockheed Martin in 2001. He received NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal in 1990, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1981, the SES Presidential Ranks of Distinguished Executive in 1990, and Meritorious Executive in 1987. He was elected fellow of AAS in 1999. He received a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Tennessee in 1971 and a B.A. with majors in physics and in mathematics from Pfeiffer College (currently Pfeiffer University) in 1966. Frank also served as a member of several National Research Council Committees, including Advanced Concepts, Science Opportunities Enabled by NASA’s Constellation System, NASA's Suborbital Research Capabilities, and most recently, Human Spaceflight Operations.

Dr. Michael Yarymovych Dr. Michael Yarymovych

Dr. Michael I. Yarymovych is President of Sarasota Space Associates, an aerospace consultancy, with clients in the government and the aerospace industry.

Until the end of 2003 he served on the Board of Trustees of the ANSER Corporation in Arlington, Virginia, and was also its Chief Scientific Advisor.

In 1998 Dr. Yarymovych retired from Boeing, where he served as vice president for international technology of the Information, Space and Defense Systems Group. Prior to this assignment and the merger of Boeing with the aerospace portion of Rockwell International, he served as Vice President in various positions in advanced development, missile defense, engineering of the Space Shuttle, Global Positioning System and several military space systems.

Prior to his association with Rockwell, Dr. Yarymovych held several prominent leadership positions in the government, including Assistant Administrator of the U. S. Energy Research and Development Administration, Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force, Director of NATO AGARD in Paris, France, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the USAF for R&D and Technical Director of the USAF Manned Orbital Laboratory. Before that, Dr. Yarymovych had several responsible positions with the NASA Headquarters Manned Space Flight Program involved with the Apollo lunar landing effort and initial definition studies of the Space Station and the Space Shuttle.

He was Chairman of AGARD and its successor the NATO Research and Technology Organization. In 2002 he received from the NATO RTO its highest award, the von Karman Medal. In addition to his responsibilities in industry, Dr. Yarymovych played an active role, and continues until the present, on many scientific advisory committees, such as the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, presently as Senior Fellow, NASA Constellation Program Standing Review Board, NASA Advisory Council Task Force on Space Goals, and the NASA Advanced Space Transportation Subcommittee.

He is Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and was its President from 1982 to 1983. Dr. Yarymovych has been widely recognized for his accomplishments in engineering, research and management. He is a four-time recipient of the Air Force Exceptional Civilian Service Award, and he also received the ERDA Distinguished Service Award in 1977. He was elected to the International Academy of Astronautics in 1983 and served as Vice President for Scientific Programs from 1984 to 1996 and President to 2003, and received the IAA von Karman Award in 2006. He is a fellow of the American Astronautical Society, Honorary Member of the French Air and Space Academy, member of the Sigma Xi and Tau Beta Pi honorary societies, and the Cosmos Club.

Dr. Yarymovych completed his B.Eng.Sc. in aeronautical engineering at New York University in 1955, magna cum laude. He earned a M. S. degree in engineering mechanics from Columbia University the following year. In 1960, he received a D. Eng. Sc. degree in engineering mechanics, also from Columbia, where he was a Guggenheim Fellow at the university’s Institute of Flight Structures. Dr. Yarymovych is the author of many publications on topics ranging from lunar mapping to strategic defense policy. He was the Associate Editor of the Encyclopedia of Space Science and Technology published by Wiley and Sons in 2003. For several years, he translated the Russian journal Applied Mathematics and Mechanics.

Dr. Yarymovych and his wife Roxolana reside in Osprey, Florida. They have two children, daughter Mrs. Tatiana Thompson and son Nicholas, and four grandchildren.

Dr. Larry Young Dr. Larry Young

Dr. Laurence R. Young is the Apollo Program Professor of Astronautics and Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was the founding Director (1997-2001) of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute. He directs the HST Ph.D. program in Bioastronautics. Dr. Young was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine of the NAS and is a full member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He received an A.B. from Amherst College in 1957; a Certificate in Applied Mathematics from the Sorbonne, Paris as a French Government Fellow in 1958; S.B. and S.M. degrees in Electrical Engineering and the Sc.D. degree in Instrumentation from MIT, from 1957-1962. In 1957 he was with the Sperry Gyroscope Company in the development of flight control systems. From 1958 to 1962 he was a member of the Research Staff at MIT where he worked on inertial guidance systems at the Instrumentation Laboratory and on problems of man-machine interaction at the Electronic Systems Laboratory. During 1961 he did eye movement research at the School of Medicine, University of Puerto Rico. He joined the MIT faculty in 1962, co-founded the Man=Vehicle Laboratory which does research on the visual and vestibular systems, visual-vestibular interaction, flight simulation, space motion sickness and manual control and displays. In 1991 Professor Young was selected as a Payload Specialist for Spacelab Life Sciences 2. He spent two years in training at NASA Johnson Space Center and served as Alternate Payload Specialist during the October 1993 mission. In 1995 he was appointed as the first holder of a new MIT chair, the Apollo Professor of Astronautics. He was Chairman of the Harvard-MIT Committee on Biomedical Engineering and Physics and the Interdepartmental Ph.D. Program in Biomedical Engineering. From 1972-1973 Professor Young was a Visiting Professor at the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) and the Zurich Kantonsspital, and a Visiting Professor at the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, Paris. During 1987-88 he was a Visiting Scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center, and a Visiting Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University. He has frequently been a Visiting Professor in France, most recently in 2002 at the College de France in Paris and in 2009 at the University of Provence in Marseille. Numerous other accomplishments are described on his website at: