LaserSETI has been a team effort since it began in 2015. We would like to thank Gerry Harp, Alan Holmes, and Peter Jenniskens, Franck Marchis, and Seth Shostak for their input, feedback, and support.

Please see the current team members’ bios below.

Andrew Cantino

Software Engineering

Andrew is an accomplished engineer, web developer, and hands-on technical leader. He holds a BS in Physics and a MS in Computer Science. He is currently focused on climate and aerospace. He publishes a weekly newsletter about the space industry called The Orbital Index. Andrew also created Huginn, a popular open source application for web automation, and a number of other open source projects.

Eliot Gillum

Principal Investigator

Eliot joined the SETI Institute in 2015 to develop a new type of Optical SETI instrument. Prior to that, he was the Director of Engineering for Hotmail and at Microsoft. His experience includes scientific computing, signal processing, and he worked with a multimedia startup before joining Microsoft.

Passionate about computers and technology his whole life, Eliot graduated from Cornell University, BS in Computer Science. It was during an elective astronomy course, Life in the Universe, when he first met Frank Drake; in turn, leading him to an alumni talk by Jill Tarter the next year. Eliot was hooked on the study of life and the universe, particularly as embodied by the SETI Institute. After joining the SETI Institute, Eliot spent every spare moment exploring every aspect of the development of a new optical SETI telescope, from optical design, to candidate detection coding and data reduction, to vendor selection, to funding. Eliot’s background in software, distributed systems, automation, and heuristic design, has matched very well with expertise from other Institute scientists. With the explosion of discovery of habitable exoplanets, Eliot strongly believes the question is not, “Is there life out there?” but instead, “When, if ever, will we find it?” He feels that SETI has unimaginable potential to unify the human race, and while the outcome may be unknown, the journey of discovery is, itself, an incredible prize.

Dan Kinon

Software Engineering

A lifelong engineer and passionate problem solver, Dan built his first computer at ten and that sealed the deal for a life of electronics, tinkering and code. Through personal projects and internships, he explored different opportunities in the field until focusing on systems administration and software development. While attaining a BS in Computer Science from Sonoma State University, he worked with the school’s IT department and then where he maintained and grew their data centers. After hours, he was an avid supporter and occasional speaker at NBLUG and other early maker spaces. Once graduated, he gained experience through several amazing opportunities, rose to Director of Operations, and explored the world of startups.

In 2017, Dan decided to take what he had learned and start his own business providing information security and operations expertise across a diverse set of clients. Continuing to seek out interesting new challenges, he joined the LaserSETI project to help the effort toward its third deployment and coordinate operations and data across multiple sites. He spends his free time with family and passes his love of tinkering on to his kids with a plethora of electronics, woodworking, 3d modeling/printing and VR development projects.

Chris Ragsdale

Mechanical Engineering

A talented mechanical and aerospace engineer, Chris works with the Spectrum Technology Group. He earned a BS in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology and an MS in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland. Chris has worked on many different engineering projects ranging from unmanned aerial vehicle development to submarine sonar system redesign and updating efforts. His current interests lie in the commercialization of space, aerospace systems development, and technology ventures with a global impact.

Chris has a passion for entrepreneurship and innovative design. Enjoys 3D solid modeling and simulation of complex assemblies, and seeks to develop cutting edge and disruptive technologies and products. His specialties include Systems Engineering, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Finite Element Analysis (FEA), Engineering Design Methods, Product Development and Testing, Thermal Design and Simulation, MATLAB including Simulink, Solidworks, Siemens NX 7-9.

William Silberman

Software Engineering

Will is a highly experienced software engineer, currently at Google, after successful positions in the financial technology sector. He earned his BS in mathematics at Univ. Illinois at Urbana0Champaign, MS in mathematics from NYU, and has studied electrical engineering and computer science. A life-long astronomy buff, Will is a board member and volunteer coordinator for San Francisco Amateur Astronomers.

Jill Tarter

Senior Advisor

Dr. Jill Tarter is Chair Emeritus for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California and serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for that institution. Tarter received her Bachelor of Engineering Physics Degree with Distinction from Cornell University and her Master’s Degree and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley. She has spent the majority of her professional career attempting to answer the old human question “Are we alone?” by searching for evidence of technological civilizations beyond Earth.

She served as Project Scientist for NASA’s SETI program, the High Resolution Microwave Survey and has conducted numerous observational programs at radio observatories worldwide. She is a Fellow of the AAAS, the California Academy of Sciences, and the Explorers Club, she was named one of the Time 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2004, and one of the Time 25 in Space in 2012, received a TED prize in 2009, two public service awards from NASA, multiple awards for communicating science to the public, and has been honored as a woman in technology. She is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at USC, Asteroid 74824 Tarter (1999 TJ16) has been named in her honor. She is the Jansky Lecturer in 2014. Since the termination of funding for NASA’s SETI program in 1993, she has served in a leadership role to design and build the Allen Telescope Array and to secure private funding to continue the exploratory science of SETI. Many people are now familiar with her work as portrayed by Jodie Foster in the movie Contact.