Meet two of the scientists who will be featured at our next Scientist Spotlight on Saturday, July 4. Each month, Scientist Spotlight features two rounds (11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 2–5 p.m.) of local scientists who share their work with our guests with hands-on activities and engaging conversations.

Meet two of our scientists in the spotlight this month:

Matt Tilley, Graduate Research Assistant, UW Department of Earth & Space Sciences

Activity title and description:

“Windy Stars and Magnetic Planets,” explore how most stars, including the Sun, generate strong winds. This stellar wind interacts with the Earth and every planet in the Solar System and could contribute to the erosion of planetary atmospheres.

Why did you get into this field of Science?

Because I found it fascinating that the “emptiness” of space is anything but. It’s filled with a high amount of matter and energy that affects us here on Earth as well as the environments of other planets and moons.

Give us a science fact not very many people know about:

Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is the only moon in the Solar System known to have a magnetic field similar to the Earth’s.

What is your favorite science fiction movie and way?

Contact; it’s a thoughtful movie regarding the pursuit of truth and humanity’s place in the cosmos.

Who is your favorite scientist and why?

Richard Feynman. Despite being a bit of a cad, he had a true gift for distilling very complex ideas into the most easy to understand form.


Eric Kunze, Northwest Research Associates, Physical Oceanography

Activity title and description:

“Why is the abyssal ocean only a few degrees above freezing?” will explore how cold most of the ocean is and understand why the roles of currents and mixing and the impact of climate explain this phenomenon.

Why did you get into this field of science?

My father was a science teacher and there were always many science books and magazines around. The natural world always holds mysteries.

Who is your favorite scientist and why?

Watching The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau and The Ascent of Man had a huge influence on me as a kid but I don’t know if I could can him a scientist anymore. Two scientists who have always been an inspiration to my work are my advisors Tom Sanford and Jim Price (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute) for the breadth, insight and care of their oceanographic research. The more I learn about Archimedes, the amazed I am at what he did – geometry, calculus, and computers.

Give us a science fact not very many people know about:

Most of the problems society faces can be traced back to the population being 1-2 orders of magnitude above what the planet can sustain. The inhospitable place on earth is more hospitable than any other place in the solar system.

Science is:

The best tool we have to understand how the universe works to contend with superstition through the testing of hypotheses, requiring both imaginary thinking outside the box and critical thinking.

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