Current Student Staff
Student Staff Photo for Caleb Whitcomb

Caleb Whitcomb (Spring 2020 - )

I am a senior at Ball State working towards degrees in both physics and astronomy. I first attended Earlham College, then transferred to Ivy Tech Community College before coming to Ball State. I have been in love with the stars ever since I was a kid and it has always been a dream of mine to study the universe. In high school I took a lot of math and science classes, wanting to learn more. I joined the Brown Planetarium staff because I wanted to learn more about the universe and help others understand how our world fits into the cosmos. I hope I can spark someone’s curiosity so they will also begin to ask questions about the universe and fall in love with the stars.

Nicolette Terracciano (Fall 2020 - )

I am a junior here at Ball State University perusing a double major in astronomy and physics. Ever since I was little, I have always had questions about our universe. After years of bombarding my family with these questions and getting no answers, I decided to peruse a career in astronomy. So far, I have learned so much! But I felt that I needed more. Which is why I decided to work at the Brown Planetarium. After I started getting some of my questions answered, I realized that I wanted to be able to provide others with what I couldn’t have until I reached higher education. Just because astronomy and physics is deemed a “hard topic” in our society, doesn’t mean you can’t be educated about it at younger or older ages. Science is for everyone, not just for the “brainiacs.” And I feel that is what the Brown Planetarium is all about.

Student Staff Photo for Greg Gallagher

Greg Gallagher (Spring 2021 - )

Hello! My name is Greg Gallagher, and I am a graduate student here at Ball State University working toward a master's degree in physics. I graduated from Indiana State University in 2016 with a B.S. in Physics and a B.S. in Science Education. I spent the next four years teaching high school physics and geometry, and then moving to middle school where I taught seventh and eighth grade science. I decided to come to Ball State University to pursue my graduate degree because I have a passion for teaching and learning; and Ball State affords me the opportunity to do both. After completing my master's degree, I plan to pursue my PhD. I am excited to get started and to learn more about the stars together!

Student Staff Photo for Madeline Shepley

Madeline Shepley (Fall 2021 - )

Hello there! My name is Madeline Shepley, and I am a master's student studying physics here at Ball State University. My alma mater is Indiana University-Bloomington where I graduated with dual degrees in physics and astronomy/astrophysics in May 2020. I have been fascinated with the universe since I was a little girl, and as an adult, I've been privileged to indulge that childhood fascination by doing things such as scientific research on dwarf galaxies, creating a planetarium show at the Merrillville Community Planetarium, and teaching preschoolers in my hometown about space. I have a passion for astronomy and educating others about it, so I currently hope to pursue a career in science communication when I graduate. All that aside, I am excited to bring my knowledge and skills to Ball State to help get more people starstruck!

Jesse Watson (Fall 2013 - Fall 2014)

I am a graduate student of the Physics and Astronomy department in my second year of my MS degree. I earned my BS in Physics with a minor in Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point. As a planetarium assistant, I predominantly work on developing and presenting school group labs and programs. My love for astronomy is the reason that I became a physicist. I first became a planetarium assistant as an undergraduate and fell in love with teaching the general public about the wonders of astronomy. Working in the planetarium has increased my knowledge of astronomy as well as vastly improving my skill as a public speaker. In my limited free time I enjoy rock climbing, hiking, playing guitar, and reading.

Kacie Shourd (Fall 2014 – Spring 2015)

Currently, I am an undergraduate majoring in Meteorology (Geography Opt. 4) with a minor in Astrophysics. As an intern at the planetarium, I have assisted in the development of some activities, and I also help out at public and school shows. Working in the planetarium has presented me with the unique opportunity to not only teach guests, but to really engage with them and have a conversation about science. I love sharing my passions for space and weather, and getting to interact with others who share those passions is a fantastic experience.

Liz Winks (Fall 2014 – Spring 2015)

I am an undergraduate student and am majoring in Creative Writing with a minor in Meteorology. I’ve been coming to planetarium shows ever since my freshman year at Ball State, so the fact that I get to work as an intern at the new planetarium completely blows me away. As an intern, I get to engage with the public and students through activity carts and conversations. This is an extremely exciting opportunity for me not only because of my intense love for space, but because I often find myself wishing I had more chances to talk to others about science. My enthusiasm for space and writing is even evident in my choice of favorite television program: Futurama. Any chance I get to geek out over space, I’m on it.

Annaliese Bankson (Fall 2014 – Spring 2015)

I am currently a senior at Delta High School. I have always enjoyed astronomy. Next year I plan to attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University or Purdue University and study Space Physics or Astronautical Engineering. In my free time I enjoy flying planes and I am currently earning my pilot’s license. I am very excited to help out at the planetarium and engage with the public. I enjoy teaching people of all ages about topics about which they don’t know.

Ken Castillo (Fall 2014 – Spring 2015)

I am an undergraduate student with a major in Physics. Originally a bio/pre-med major, I became interested in astronomy and physics after reading Stephen Hawking’s book, “A Briefer History of Time.” Being able to help with the planetarium gives me the opportunity to learn about this field, as well as interact with others who also have a passion for the sciences. In my off time, I enjoy reading, playing guitar, martial arts, and telling incredibly terrible jokes.

Josh Conley (Summer 2015 - Spring 2016)

I’m a junior at Ball State University pursing a degree in Physics with the desire to work in the field of astronomy and astrophysics. I recently changed my major to Physics from Computer Science, which is now my minor. Working as a planetarium assistant, I help direct people to their seats and assist with the presenter’s needs during the show. Soon, I hope to begin giving shows to school groups after a bit of practice and training. I love the planetarium because it helps introduce people of all ages to just how fascinating space is and it shows how much there is to still discover in our universe. I hope to build upon my experience here at the planetarium as I move into my career field and possibly into graduate school in a couple years.

Brody Conner (Summer 2015 - Spring 2016)

I am a senior at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities. I am looking forward to majoring in physics in college. The first time I visited the planetarium I was so amazed at what I saw I kept coming back. Toward the end of the spring semester I asked Dr. Kaitchuck if he would be willing to take part in an apprenticeship with me. He happily agreed to be my mentor and after two weeks of thought provoking discussions with him about the cosmos and learning how the planetarium operates I was offered a position. I am now happy to be working at the planetarium and exploring the cosmos every weekend.

Dylan Griffith (Spring 2016)

I am a graduate student at Ball State University working towards an MS in Physics. I obtained my BS at Purdue University in Physics with a minor in Mathematics and Philosophy. As a planetarium assistant, I help with public shows and assist the presenter during shows. During my time at Purdue, I was part of a couple of astrophysics research projects and I am continuing my interest in astronomy and physics here at Ball State. By working in the planetarium, I can help educate people of all ages and share my knowledge of the universe.

Monique Gabb (Fall 2013 - Summer 2016)

I am a graduate student at Ball State University working towards an MS in Physics. I received my BS in Physics from Florida Atlantic University. As a planetarium assistant, I help to develop planetarium labs for school groups whom I mostly work with. I would like to increase my knowledge and experience of what goes into making planetarium shows in order to share astronomy knowledge with all age groups. One of my passions in life is astronomy and, as such, I hope to use this opportunity to learn as much as I can, as well as entrusting the knowledge with as many others as I possibly can.

Ceridwyn Snow (Fall 2015 - Summer 2016)

I am a senior at the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities. I wish to major in physics with a focus on astronomy and astrophysics. I've had an interest in space since I was a child, but I didn't begin to explore the possibilities of a career until I watched Neil DeGrasse Tyson's popular 'Cosmos' series. Since then, my interests became apparent and I began coming to as many planetarium shows as I could at the Charles W. Brown Planetarium. In a short amount of time, I increased my involvement and went from an attendee to an assistant. I love every moment of my experiences here, and I hope to continue my involvement in the future.

Brittany Short (Fall 2012 - Summer 2016)

I am a graduate student working towards a degree in Cultural Anthropology. I have a B.S. in Archaeology and Classical Culture and an undergraduate minor in Astronomy and Travel & Tourism. As a planetarium assistant, I help with public shows, give shows to school groups as well as demonstrate the planetarium activity stations and other activities relevant to the topic of the show. The Planetarium is a wonderful place to teach and learn, both for those watching the show and for those of us who give the shows. In every respect, the Planetarium is a stellar experience!

Lily Larson (Spring 2014 - Spring 2017)

I am a senior at Ball State pursuing a major in Physics and minors in Astrophysics and Creative Writing. As a planetarium assistant, I help the public by directing audience members to their seats, and aid the planetarium director before and during the show. I have always been interested in astronomy, and I love being under the dome and watching the stars and planets move. I hope to help pass on that sense of wonder to the public with my work, because the universe is an incredible thing to study and learn about. In the future I’d like to help to create shows and scripts for children and the public to enjoy and learn from.

Katie Rogers (Summer 2017)

I am a sophomore at Miami University of Ohio (but grew up in Muncie and at Ball State) and am a double major in History and German. Even though my major is on the complete opposite spectrum from anything science related, I’ve always had an interest in astronomy ever since I was little and have always enjoyed learning anything I could about space and “what’s out there.” I’ve attended shows at the planetarium in the past and have always found them really cool, and I’m excited to be able to work there and help out wherever I’m needed. I’m also excited to learn more about topics that I normally wouldn’t come across in my field of studies. I’m glad that I get the opportunity to get my dose of science, as it were. I look forward to not only learning more about astronomy and space myself but also engaging with the public about it!

Hunter Mauer (Summer 2017)

I am currently attending Delta High School and will be starting my senior year in the fall. I plan on attending Ball State University to study Actuarial Science. I have always been interested in Astronomy and Physics, and I love to read articles about new ideas and inventions. I play soccer and the piano, and I enjoy traveling whenever I get the chance. I love seeing the world and meeting new people. I also love watching TV and movies and can get pretty passionate about them. I am very excited to work at the planetarium because of my great enthusiasm for space. I could talk to people about the unknown expanse of space and time for forever. I am nerdy and proud.

Paul Hettinger (Fall 2016 - Spring 2018)

I am a graduate student studying astronomy. Before coming to Ball State University I earned a B.S. in physics and astronomy at Butler University in Indianapolis. My job at the planetarium includes helping to greet and seat people at the public shows as well as run the activity cart in the lobby. I also give private shows and prepare videos to be shown on the dome. One of the best parts of my job is answering any space questions I can. I have always enjoyed learning about outer space and am glad I have the opportunity to share my knowledge and love of the universe with the people who visit.

Jacob Parker (Fall 2016 - Spring 2018)

I am a senior at the Indiana Academy and I plan on attending college at Ball State. I currently plan on studying astronomy and geology. I assist people in finding their seats and shifting to whatever other programs may need me. I grew up interested in astronomy and it has stuck with me over the years. I hope to someday work both designing and making telescopes or study how vacuums and space effect certain geological samples.

Kara Tynes (Fall 2015 - Spring 2019)

I am a senior at Ball State University and I’m working towards becoming a physician’s assistant. As a planetarium worker, I show people to their seats and help out wherever is needed. I hope to be able to present the shows to school groups soon. I have always enjoyed looking at the stars and learning about the universe and its vastness. I’m so excited to be a member of the planetarium staff and family!

Sarah Vise (Fall 2015 - Spring 2019)

I am a senior at Ball State University working towards my degree in Physics and Astronomy. Currently, I assist with the public shows as general staff and I present programs to visiting groups. Like every child, I wanted to be an astronaut. Luckily, that interest in science stuck with me for years as one of my favorite hobbies, and never really left. So naturally, I want to pursue it as a career, and promote the same curiosity and learning experience that led me here! Working at the planetarium is my first giant leap in doing so.

Jessica Walsh (Fall 2017 - Spring 2019)

I am a senior at Ball State University with a major in Meteorology and a minor in Astrophysics. My goal is to expand upon my education by pursuing a masters or PhD in Meteorology or Physics, with the hope of eventually studying the atmosphere on other planets or space weather. At the Planetarium I work at public shows, greeting and seating guests. I also present some programs to school groups. Growing up with an electrical engineer for a dad, we had a mutual love for Sci-Fi and that love steered me toward a career in a science field. I hope to be able to influence other young girls with curious minds like me to follow their nerdy side and pursue STEM.

Photo of Brielle Tilson

Brielle Tilson (Fall 2018 - Spring 2020)

I am a graduate student pursuing a MS in the Physics and Astronomy Department. I completed my undergraduate degree at Taylor University in Chemistry with minors in Physics and Spanish. The interdisciplinary nature of science appeals to me and I hope to someday join my love for chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Currently, my goal is to pursue a PhD in Physics or an area of Chemistry where I can learn about the chemistry and physics of space! Working as a graduate assistant here in the planetarium has already taught me so much about the wonders in the sky above us. Outside of my schooling, I like to keep active whether its skiing in Colorado or weightlifting. At Taylor University I competed on the equestrian team and was the founder of the cheerleading team.

Daniel Brossard

Daniel Brossard (Spring 2019 - Spring 2020)

I am a graduate student here at Ball State University, pursuing my MS in Physics. At the University of Kansas, I obtained dual degrees with a BS in Physics and a BS in Astronomy, in addition to minoring in Geology and Astrobiology. In middle school I developed a passion for astronomy, especially about other planets, and over the years this passion has continued to grow. My goal is to someday be able to join in the search for exoplanets, and further study the planets already discovered. I hope that during my time working with the Planetarium I will be able to help inspire others to deepen their interest in science and more deeply explore the world around them.

Gloria Swardenski

Gloria Swardenski (Fall 2019 - Spring 2020)

I’m a sophomore transfer student here at Ball State University striving toward a degree in Astronomy. I first attended Valparaiso University, then Ivy Tech Community College. I was introduced to the subject of astronomy in sixth grade, and I found it to be fascinating. I saw it as the current frontier to be explored, and I have held the dream to be an astronomer ever since. I can't wait to help others start their journey into learning more about this frontier of science.

Photo of Kyle Koeller

Kyle Koeller (Spring 2019 - Spring 2020)

I am a senior at Ball State University working to get a degree in Astronomy and minors in math and computer science. I have always been interested in looking at the stars and wondering what is out there but never thought of it as a career until high school. I realized I wanted to pursue astronomy as a career in high school after taking a class and then taking multiple physics classes. I wanted to work at the Brown Planetarium here at Ball State so I can help other people learn more about what I have come to love. I aim to present shows to school groups and get them interested in astronomy earlier than when I learned it.

Alec Neal (Fall 2020)

I'm a graduate student in physics at Ball State doing research on short-period variable (binary) stars. I've been involved with this research with Dr. Robert Berrington since Fall 2017. In addition to doing research in astronomy, I also did research in organic chemistry during my undergraduate degree. I have experience working the telescope here at Ball State as well as the professional observatories Ball State is partnered with, like SARA. Working in the planetarium will be a new experience for me.

Richard Gorby (Fall 2020 - Spring 2021)

I am Physics graduate student at Ball State in my final year of the M.Sc. program. I earned a B.S. in Physics with minors in Astrophysics and Applied Mathematics from Purdue University Northwest. The Brown Planetarium played a large role in the decision to pursue my master’s degree here at Ball State and I'm excited to get to learn a little about how the planetarium operates behind the scenes.

Melanie Isenbarger (Spring 2018 - Spring 2021)

I am a senior at Ball State working toward a degree in Astronomy. I help present private shows to student guests and other groups in the community, as well as assist with public shows. I fell in love with astronomy after I took an astronomy class in high school. We had the privilege of meeting in the planetarium next door for class and it was then that I decided that I would continue to study astronomy. After learning about the Brown Planetarium here at Ball State, I knew I wanted to be a part of the team and I couldn't be more excited to do so! I hope to help feed people's curiosity about space and encourage more girls to follow that into STEM careers!

Student Staff Photo for Riley B

Riley Braselton (Fall 2021 - Spring 2022)

My name is Riley Braselton, and I am a Graduate Student at Ball State. This is my first year here and I am working on getting my master’s in physics. I just recently graduated from Anderson University with a B.S. in Engineering Physics. Space has always been a fascination of mine. When I took my first physics and astronomy classes in high school, I knew that was the career path I wanted to pursue. I hope to continue to a PhD program after I complete my time here at BSU. I am excited to be working at the Brown Planetarium and to see the amazement on the faces of the public as they’re able to experience just how beautiful our universe is.