The NExSS Science Communications Working Group is made up of a team of volunteers. They are graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, and professors with various scientific interests and perspectives. Read up on who they are here!

Are you interested in joining SCWG? Contact Jessica Noviello at!

Jessica Noviello Head Shot

Jessica Noviello, PhD

Dr. Jessica Noviello is the NExSS NASA Postdoctoral Management Program (NPMP) Fellow working at Goddard Space Flight Center. In her research duties, she models the interior structure of the Kuiper belt object Haumea, analyzes statistics of exoplanetary systems, and compares the geology of different asteroids. Her dissertation research focused on characterizing Europa’s geology and assessing the moon’s astrobiological potential. In her management duties, she is the SCWG lead, and is working on new initiatives to benefit current and future members of NExSS. She specializes in community building and science communication. In her spare time she runs long-distance races, does horseback riding, and is a long-distance member of the Southwest Paleontological Society (based in Mesa, Arizona).


Twitter: @JessicaNoviello

Miles Currie

Miles Currie is a graduate student in astronomy and astrobiology at the University of Washington. His research is centered on simulating terrestrial exoplanet spectra observed by the next generation of space- and ground-based telescopes. He uses atmospheric modeling and retrieval algorithms to constrain the types and abundances of molecules detectable in an atmosphere. In his spare time, Miles is an active member of a local mountaineering club and enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest.

Miles is the lead on the Newsletter Team for SCWG and the SCWG co-lead.


Tessa Fischer

Tessa Fisher is a fourth year PhD candidate at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Her research is primarily focused on using network theory to hopefully develop more reliable and universal biosignatures for exoplanets, based on their atmospheric composition; she’s also done work on limits of productivity on ocean-covered worlds. When she’s not doing science, her hobbies include singing in her city’s LGBT chorus, burlesque, and writing LGBT-positive science fiction and fantasy. She resides with her wife in Tempe, Arizona, along with a fairly aloof bearded dragon. She is the Science Nugget Team lead.


Alan Jackson, PhD

Dr. Alan Jackson is an Exploration Fellow in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. He works on the debris that is produced as planets form, how it interacts with and influences the growing planets, and how we can use observations of debris to learn about planet formation even if we can’t see the planets themselves. He is also a big fan of heavy metal and mildly obsessed with dragons. He is the Website team lead.



Donny Glaser

Donny Glaser is a PhD student in the School of Molecular Sciences at Arizona State University. His research is based on the habitability of arid ecosystems. In particular, his research works to quantify the water budget in the Atacama Desert and its implications for a) terrestrial soil microbes and b) microenvironments of habitability on other arid planets. Outside academia, Donny enjoys petting dogs and crushing opponents in super smash bros & Mario Kart. He is on the Website team for SCWG.


Pilar Vergeli

Pilar Vergeli is a 4th year PhD candidate in Geological Sciences at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. She is interested in astrobiology, particularly early Earth photochemistry and exoplanetary ecosystems. She conducts photogeochemical experiments to understand the possible effects of Archean iron (Fe) photo-oxidation on Earth and potentially elsewhere. She is also using network modeling of metagenomic data to better understand statistically distinguishable properties of ecosystems and if those properties are predictable based on planetary environment. In her spare time, she’s learning about and cooking interesting meals or planning her next international trip. She is a member of the Newsletter team and is the SCWG Interview lead.


Ashley Herbst

Ashley Herbst is a second-year astrophysics graduate student at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Her research interests are planetary formation, protoplanetary disks and proto-stars, meteoritics, and the early Solar System as well as mantle petrology for both Earth and the other terrestrial planets within our Solar System. In her spare time, she loves to read historical and scientific nonfiction, hike and explore her new home in Arizona, and discuss paleontology (especially invertebrate) with the members of the Southwest Paleontological Society. Ashley is on the Newsletter team as the Wellness lead.


Héctor Delgado Diaz

Héctor Delgado Díaz obtained his B.S. in Natural Sciences in 2017 from the University of Puerto Rico at Cayey (UPRC). He participated in a wide range of internships: from neuroscience at San Jose State University (SJSU), international relations at the Organization of American States in Washington D.C., to astronomy research at NASA Goddard and UPRC. Subsequently, Héctor received an M.S. in Physics in 2019 at California State University. His thesis work (“Stability of Nitrogen in Exoplanetary Atmospheres in Contact with Liquid Water Oceans”) was developed with the help of Dr. Renyu Hu at NASA JPL, and it led to his first co-author paper. Recently, he moved to the University of Washington, where he received the GEM and ARCS fellowships to pursue a dual-title Ph.D. in Astronomy & Astrobiology. His work focuses on maximizing the exoplanetary properties inferred from observations using space telescopes (e.g., James Webb Space Telescope). He enjoys playing video games, learning a new language, and cooking whenever he is not working.

Héctor is the Social Media team lead and tweets and writes in both Spanish and English.


Kevin Wagner, PhD

Dr. Kevin Wagner is a Sagan Fellow at the University of Arizona. His research interests include exoplanets, planet formation, and protoplanetary disks. His current work involves deep mid-infrared imaging to search for habitable-zone exoplanets around nearby stars. He is a member of the Science Nuggets team.


Dan Peluso

Dan Peluso is an astrophysics PhD student with the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) studying/researching remotely from Vallejo, California. Dan’s PhD project is multi-disciplinary focusing on TESS exoplanet follow-ups and astronomy education research to develop a global exoplanet citizen science network at education centers. In addition to his PhD work, Dan teaches high school science and is exploring creating an exoplanet science curriculum for educators with the successful inquiry-based pedagogy, Modeling Instruction. Dan also enjoys photography, music, film, and is an active singer-songwriter and musician. Dan is on the Science Nugget team.


Professor Pierre Haenecour

Dr. Pierre Haenecour is an Assistant Professor in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. His main research focus is on the origin and evolution of fine-grained dust and organic matter in the early Solar System through the analysis of primitive astromaterials, including meteorites, micrometeorites, interplanetary dust particles and samples returned by spacecraft missions. In particular, Pierre uses ultrahigh-resolution ion-microprobe and electron-microscopy techniques to analyze the isotopic and elemental compositions mineralogy and microstructure of circumstellar (presolar) grains and organics in planetary materials.

He grew up in Brussels (Belgium) and graduated with B.A. and M.S. degrees in Geology and Geochemistry from the Free University of Brussels. He then moved to St. Louis (Missouri) and obtained a M.A. degree and a Ph.D. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Washington University in St. Louis. His background is in geochemistry and cosmochemistry, from terrestrial samples to primitive extraterrestrial samples, using a variety of analytical techniques, including multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and secondary ion mass spectrometry, Auger and Raman spectroscopy, and electron microscopy. He is a member of the Social Media team.


Samantha Gilbert

Samantha Gilbert is a graduate student at the University of Washington. She is a member of the Newsletter team.