Teen interns at the Adler Planetarium will be sharing their knowledge about Astronomy and the science they find interesting. Take a moment to meet our current and former bloggers. Also don’t forget to read about some of the science mentors for the program!

Current Interns
Past Interns

Meet the Citizen Science Ambassadors of Summer 2017!


Joseph Berry III

I am Joseph Berry III from Chicago, and I am an After School Matters Citizen Science Team Ambassador. I am a freshman and I go to Ogden International High School. Some of my hobbies include to play card, board and video games with friends. I also enjoy playing with my two german shepherds, they are both very energetic and they love to run around, play fetch and walk. One other thing I usually do is just talk to friends online about stuff going on recently in our lives or new things that happened that we’re interested in. I have been interested in space for a long time, and I still want to know the answers to questions like: “are there other planets capable of creating or supporting life?” and “is there other life out there and if there is, would they be similar to the species that what we know, or would they be completely different?”. Another reason I want to find out more about space is to see if I would become more interested in astronomy overall, and if I would like to invest more time into it. I am also interested in the potential of technological advancements, because I am curious as to what humans can eventually do, and how long the human race can possibly last.

Iryna Blazhkevych

Hello, my name is Iryna Blazhkevych. I am going to be a Junior this upcoming school year at Lane Tech High School. During this summer, I am an After School Matters Citizen Science Teen Ambassador at The Adler Planetarium. I decided to join the program because I have been interested in science since I was very young. I wanted to spend some of my summer getting involved with something I am passionate about. I am also very interested in pursuing a career in one of the many fields of science. Apart from exploring my interests in science, I like to play tennis, play piano, read, and spend time with my friends. I am excited to use this blog to practice my writing skills. Another one of my goals is to improve my understanding of Astronomy and some of the many subsections of Science through research, analyzation of data, and consulting with my peers and instructor.

Justin Brown

My name is Justin Brown and I attend Whitney M. Young High School. My love for science, math, and technology led me to joining the robotics club at my school. Being an After School Matter Citizen Science Teen Ambassador is exciting because I get to experience and learn more about the subjects that interest me at the coolest planetarium ever created, the Adler! Space has always fascinated me and continues to amaze me because there is so much I have yet to learn. One of my goals  this summer is to learn more about space, and I am in the perfect place to do so.

Alex Burr

My name is Alex, and Chicago has been my only place of residence. I will be a sophomore at Whitney Young High School and co-President of the Science Olympiad team there this school year. I also run cross country and track, am a member of National Junior Honor Society, and will likely be coaching the Certamen team again this year. Science has been my greatest passion for as long as I can remember. In the future I hope to work in a lab focused on biochemistry, particularly human cellular chemistry. I am excited to conduct some of my own research as an After School Matters Citizen Science Teen Ambassador at the Adler Planetarium and use the Zooniverse platform to help other scientists with their research. Posting research questions on this blog also interests me.

Enrique Colita

Hi, I am Enrique Colita, I live in Chicago, IL. I joined the Citizen Science Ambassador program to be an astro-journalist because I wanted to broaden my knowledge on sciences. Some of my hobbies are to play basketball and soccer as a hobby. I’ve been playing percussion. I go to Lincoln Park High School and I am a current sophomore going to junior. My favorite type of music would be jazz, rap, and rock. I have loved science as a little boy so I wanted to join a research group to strengthen my research skills.

Trevor DeBord

My name is Trevor DeBord, and I will be a junior this year at Lane Tech College Prep. High School. The main reason I wanted to join this program was to gain experience in a research field. I want to major in a scientific field in college, and I think that this program at the Adler will help me achieve that goal. My hobbies consist of programming games and physical computing using Arduino microprocessors.   

Gabrielle Easterly

Hi! I am Gabrielle Easterly, although Gabby is preferred. I am a junior attending Jones College Prep. I love playing volleyball so much, that I dedicated almost half of my life to playing it. I never have free time because I am either at practice, a game, or a tournament. I like to draw when I get bored, even though the only things I can draw are cartoons, flowers, and various symbols. Spending time outdoors is a perfect way to relax. My favorite outdoors experiences are when I camp in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Another thing I enjoy is solving mysteries or looking for answers from given information throughout different sciences. Being an After School Matters Citizen Science Teen Ambassadors has given me an opportunity to help look for answers through different scientific  projects conducted by varying researchers and scientists. Through this program I hope to gain somewhat of the experience I want/need of actually looking through data and analyzing it to help me with any future opportunities to do analyzing at a more advanced level.

Ethan Idarius

My name is Ethan Idarius, I’m a sophomore at Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center and an After School Matters Citizen Science Teen Ambassador. I have loved science and astronomy ever since I was little, so Adler was the perfect place to go. In college, I want to major in either political science or education. I hope to gain and sharpen my knowledge in science and researching through the ASM program at Adler and as an Adler Astro-Journalist.

Medetkan Mamyrov

My name is Medet and I am a senior at Lincoln Park High School. I come from a small, mountainous country called Kyrgyzstan which is located in Central Asia.  In my free time I like to play soccer with my friends— it helps me relax and spend quality time with them. Currently I am an After School Matters Citizen Science Teen Ambassador at Adler Planetarium. One day I aspire to be a software or civil engineer, or a scientist, and hopefully make big contributions to my community and the world through discoveries and inventions. This program is the perfect place to start my journey and delve into the field of science.

Zachary Matthews

My name is Zachary Matthews and I am a sophomore at Muchin college prep. I have done one year of game designing. Also, I have done a couple classes at Adler. Also, I am a team player. I am usually the hype man of the group. Also,I have a lot of hobbies. My hobbies are snowboarding, game designing, and football. My position is linebacker but my favorite sport is ufc and basketball. Also, I really enjoy putting everything into my goals which is working for Ubisoft. I will become an Astro Journalist. The reason applied for this program is because I felt that it would a good chance to  interact with other people. Also, to learn more about citizen science.

Jack Morgan

My name is Evan Morgan, most people call me by my nickname Jack, and I’m a sophomore at Amundsen High School. I am an After School Matters Citizen Science Teen Ambassador. The program at the Adler planetarium attracted me because I have loved science and been fascinated with space for as long as I can remember. I have always been fascinated by the scale of the universe and the idea that around every star is a different set of planets, completely different to our own, and that there could be another race of people looking up at their own sun, their own night sky, completely different from our own. I plan to study astronomy in college and hope to work in an astronomy or an aerospace field in the future.

Tahye Pitter

I am Tahye Pitter and I am currently 16 years old and I attend Lindblom Math and Science Academy. I have grew up in the south side of Chicago all of my life as an only child. Some of my hobbies are playing tennis, watching sci-fi movies, photography, and traveling. Growing up, I have always had a growing interest in science. Ever since I won my first science fair back in 1st grade, I have  always wanted to explore the world of science and learn new things. When I was 14, I volunteered at the Museum of Science and Industry as a Science Minor and last year I participated in an Energy program at the University of Chicago. Becoming an After School Matters Citizen Science Teen Ambassador has been a great point in my life because this experience will help me reach my goals in becoming a biotechnologist.

Kaila Toombs

Hello Everyone! My name is Kaila Toombs, and I will be a senior at Simeon Career Academy High School this year. I have been interested in space since 6th grade and I love science. I would love to study science in college. I’m really excited to work at the Adler. I am happy to work with the Adler again this summer because this program will give me a lot of experience with science, space, and life. In my spare time I like to play with makeup, watch movies, play games, go shopping, and listen to music.

Meet the interns of Fall 2016!

Bria Eldon

I have been interested in space since I was four. I am a huge reader and an improving writer. In the winter I am a big skier and in the summer I go camping and swimming at my cottage. I love space and plan to study aerospace science in college.

Olivia Flores

My name is Olivia, and I’m a senior at Lane Tech High School. I’m interested in both science and theater. I want to major in aeronautical engineer in college. I’m aspiring to be an extra on Chicago Fire. My favorite planet is Jupiter and I have high hopes for Europa.

Madaline Meagher

I’m Madaline Meagher, but everyone refers to me by my nickname, Maddie. I’ve been a homeschool student for 5 years. I volunteer for the Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry to socialize with others my age (sad I know). My favorite hobbies are drawing,sewing, and watching various science channels on YouTube like vsauce, dnews, asap science and others that I’m too lazy to name. When I was kid watched way too many Disney and Studio Ghibli movies for my own good, to jumpstart my interest in art and animation. I’ve been teaching myself how to draw for 4 years. Another dumb fact that I can think of is that my favorite birds are ravens, crows, owls, swans, and ducks.

Jenny Moore

My name is Jenny Moore and I am a junior at Saint Ignatius College Prep. I am interested in writing, specifically journalism. Also, I am interested in Astronomy. This workshop is the perfect mix of the two. I hope to refine my writing skills and learn even more about the Universe through this program. I am an editor on my school newspaper, and hope to be able to write a features peice about this program and my experience here. I am super excited to be in the program because space is freaking awesome!!

Meet the interns of Spring 2015!

I’m Caroline Binley, a junior at Prospect High School. I fell in love with space through books (first sci-fi and then just sci). Being an Astro-Journalist combines my love of space with my passion for journalism, and I can’t wait to learn and write! When I’m not busy being an astronomy nerd (or slaving away at homework), you can find me doodling, writing for my school newspaper, or reading, whether it be a comic book or Vonnegut.

Jalen Crump


Bonjour tout le monde! (Hello Everyone)
My name is Jalen Crump and I am currently in my second year of high school at Air Force Academy High School. For the duration of the spring, I will be involved in an Astro-Journalist Internship. I have always had an extreme interest in learning more things and being futuristic. My passion for learning astronomy, or physics, has been incessant since I was a child. I am also very interested in this internship because it will improve my writing skills and research skills, all while introducing me to something new. For recreation, I enjoy creating my own compositions on piano and I am fascinated with baseball as well. I look forward to enjoying my time here at this internship this Spring!

  Muhammad Alfian Rasyidin

2015-05-26 07.18.23-1

Hello everybody!
I am Muhammad Alfian Rasyidin, well oh well, just call me Alfian. I’m a sponsored exchange student from Indonesia, also a student in Lincoln Park High School. I like to play badminton so much, let me know if  anyone is interested to play!? Computer coding is my favorite subject, people might say it is challenging, well yeah, I like to break challenges. I’m a spring astro-journalist for Adler Planetarium for 2015. I love space, infinity, and fantastic things to see and learn. Do we have the same interests? I’m happy for everyone to know more about me!

Meet the interns of Summer 2014, Terry Melo and Alyssa Hui!

 Alyssa Hui (left) and Terry Melo (right) spent most of their summer writing blog posts on Zooniverse Citizen Science projects, giving presentations to their peers and Adler visitors, and doing scientific research… but they also spent some time eating candy and cupcakes with their mentor Dr. Bans. 
 Hello everyone! My name is Alyssa Hui and I attend Lincoln Park High School. For the summer of 2014, I am working at the Adler Planetarium as a Astro-Journalist Intern. As a child, I have always had a passion for exploring new things, and at the Adler I have access to that. I am excited to learn more about Astronomy and science through research from scientists which will help me develop strong research skills. I am also excited to blog and write about what I have learned helping me improve my writing skills. It will be a fun experience for me to learn and develop new skills and to leave this program not regretting what I have done this summer. Every summer should be a meaningful experience and I know that being a part of the Astro-Journalist crew will be.
My name is Terry Melo, and I am an upcoming senior at Chicago Bulls College Prep. I’m excited to be an Astro-Journalist intern because I will be exploring astronomy concepts and writing my own blog posts on astronomy subjects of my choice. Astro-Journalism is an opportunity at the Adler I have never been apart of before. I have always been a fan of science fiction films, but now it is my time to dive into the actual science that continues to amaze us today.

Past Interns:

Alicia Alvarez  

Hello! My name is Alicia Melissa Alvarez. I am currently an 11th grader in the Air Force Acedemy High. I am also part of the Robotics Team, National Honor Society, and the Color Guard Competition Team in my school. I love to read and write! I love to learn new things and go on adventures to discover new things. I am a very involved student at school and have a leadership position. As a responsible student,  I work really hard to get the grades and find it awesome that I can be part of the Astro-Journalist Internship. I am also ranked second in my whole junior class of sixty-eight students. I enjoy watching scary movies and Spongebob Squarepants just like I love the color pink. 

Alexandria Janopoulos 

 I am Alexandria Janopoulos and am currently a junior at the Air Force Academy High School. I am super excited at working with Ms. Bans, the Adler Planetarium, and all my fellow bloggers through this internship to learn more about astrobiology and share what I learn with my peers. I have and always will be a science geek; this opportunity will definitely highlight my love for learning. In my downtime, I enjoy visiting the museums of Chicago, playing both the flute and piccolo, and volunteering at various events downtown.

Khadija Mohammed

Hello, my name is Khadija and I am currently a Junior at Lincoln Park High School. I’m excited to be a part of the Adler because living in Chicago, we don’t really see any stars or celestial activity (airplanes don’t count), and I think it’s really cool how the Adler brings space to Chicago. I’m not sure what college I see myself at after high school, but I hope to be studying aerospace engineering (preferably in someplace warm). In my spare time you’ll probably find me glued to a fashion magazine or listening to how to cds on any language. Through this internship, I hope to gain research skills and improve my writing, and make the scientific field more appealing to teens. 

Amanda Sillman

          Hello I’m Amanda Sillman. I attend the Air Force Academy High School. I am currently a sophomore in high school, who works hard for fantastic grades. Also, I am the captain of the Lady Falcon’s volleyball team. I am currently in an internship program with the Adler. Before I decided to take the internship with the Adler, I was a freshman field trip volunteer along with a floor program facilitator. I enjoy working at the Adler because every day, while I am there, I learn something new. The Adler provides such wonderful opportunities for me as I progress through high school. I am lucky to be at such a good school where it provides me to prepare for the world and college with the Adler Planetarium. I am looking forward to learning more about the universe, planets, and stars. Also, I am looking forward to meeting new people! I can’t wait to spend more time at the Adler along with expanding my knowledge! 

London Westley 


London Westley (though he prefers just to be called Westley)’s love of science began before he could talk in complete sentences. When he was two, the first film he ever saw was star wars (unfortunately, it was episode II, but it still impacted him) since that day, he has had a deep love of science fiction, and by extension, science and technology.  He currently attends Air Force Academy High School as a sophomore, and after attending either the Air Force Academy College or MIT and the Air Force itself, he plans on working somewhere where he can make science fiction become science fact. He is also an avid fan of star trek, one of his heroes is Neil Armstrong, and he enjoys reading, exercise, history, and chess.

Dejamia Wouldfolk

My name is Dejamia and I am currently a sophomore at the Air Force Academy High School. This is my first internship and I’m really excited to be working with the Adler. I plan on majoring in Biology when I go to college. I love theatre, writing, reading and math. I’m also a member of Steppenwolf’s Young Adult Council; As well as apart of Teen at the Table, a group of teens focused on changing policies in Chicago to lower the rate of youth violence. I love to blog and I love learning new things about space. I plan on working with the Adler as much as I can now, not just for this internship but each one I have the chance to apply too.

Latifah Wright

My name is Latifah Wright and I am student at James Madison High School. The Adler Planetarium will be the beginning of my writing career and first step to learning more about astronomy. I’ve discovered my interests for writing at a much younger age and spend a lot of time with it. My most favorites are poetry and blogging. During the week, I tutor first grade students’ math, English and science. After finishing high school, I will be furthering my education in Computer Science. 


Former Interns: 

Dumanisha Ward

Hi readers, my name is Dumanisha Ward. I am a rising senior at North Lawndale College Prep High School and I am very excited to be working her at the Adler Planetarium as an Astrobio Blogger this summer. I’m excited because I am 100% sure this internship will help me in my quest to figure out if science is a career I want to take on in college. When I’m not working hard at the Adler, in my spare time I like to crochet, got to the movies, and just have fun whether it’s with learning new things or with friends.

Heriberto Guzman

My name is Heriberto Guzman. I am a rising senior for the Air Force Academy High School this fall. Also, I am a proud summer intern at the Adler Planetarium, and I can’t wait to contribute to the Astro-bio Blog led by Ms. Bans! I hope this summer internship prepares me for my future medical contributions to the medical field as an Oncologist. In my downtime, I love playing soccer, running, drawing, reading, and practicing the drums. I also enjoy contributing to the many events that occur in my beloved high school.

Ashley Hall

Hey readers, my name is Ashley Hall. I am a Junior at the Air Force Academy High School. I am really excited to be working as an Adler Astrobio Blogger this spring because not only am I informing you about space, but I am also learning more about space. In my spare time I like to play soccer, watch movies, and play my trumpet. I like learning about how people make it possible to travel to space, new discoveries, and the latest findings of new planets or other objects in space.


Brianna Victor

My name is Brianna Victor and I am currently enrolled at the Air Force Academy as a Sophomore. I am happy to be working with the Astrobio Blogging at the Adler Planetarium this spring because it will give me more information on life on other planets besides Earth and I also get to blog about it and have it published for my fellow students to see. I am sure I will learn new things to add to the things I already know about life in space. On the weekends, I like to shop, go to parties, and hang with my friends outside of school.

Zach Williams

 My name is Zach Williams. I am currently a junior at the Air Force Academy High School. I am excited to be working as an Astro-bio Blogger because I can present science information in a different way. I’m not at school I spend my time drawing, playing soccer and hockey, launching my experiments into near space, and going out with my friends.

Alexandria Janopoulous

I am Alexandria Janopoulos and am currently a sophomore at the Air Force Academy High School. I am super excited at working with Ms. Bans, the Adler Planetarium, and all my fellow bloggers through this internship to learn more about astrobiology and share what I learn with my peers. I have and always will be a science geek; this opportunity will definitely highlight my love for learning. In my downtime, I enjoy visiting the museums of Chicago, playing both the flute and piccolo, and volunteering at various events downtown.

Michael Nguyen 

 My name is Michael Nguyen, I am a current junior at the Air Force Academy High school. My current interest, in science, is everything about it, I especially like to learn about it. My favorite topic of science is space travel. I like to read online articles about the current events happening with our space program and space in general. I am really looking forward for the astrobiology blogging because it allows me to share what I learned.

Current Mentors:

Rex Babiera


Rex Babiera is thrilled to be volunteering at the Adler Planetarium and is excited to serve as a mentor for the Astro-Journalists. He studied aeronautical engineering at MIT and once worked at the facility where the external fuel tanks for the space shuttle were assembled. He spent six years as a high school physics and physical science teacher in suburban Boston. More recently, he supported professional development for educators, a role that led to writing two books about education. Today, he is a freelance writer, photographer, and education consultant. He appeared on Jeopardy! in 2005 and enjoys running and theater.

Alissa Bans 


My name is Alissa, and I’m a PhD candidate in Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. My research mainly focuses on how solar systems form and evolve, and I’ve always been fascinated by astrobiology (the study of the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in space). Though astronomy research is a big part of what I do, I am also very interested in science education. I’ve spent a lot of time teaching, developing science curricula, running science fair programs, and volunteering at the Adler Planetarium. I’m thrilled to once again be part of the Astro-Journalist program at Adler.
When I’m not working or volunteering, I enjoy playing music and exploring the fine city of Chicago. 

Eric Baxter 


My name is Eric and I’m currently a graduate student working on a Ph.D. in Astronomy at the University of Chicago.  My research is motivated by several deep questions about the Universe.  In particular, what is dark matter? What is driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe? What was the Universe like when it was only a fraction of a second old?  Now is an exciting time to be involved in Astronomy and Cosmology as we are very close to answering these questions.
In my spare time I like tinkering around with electronics (my most recent project is a Theremin) and riding my bike around Chicago.

Julie Beck 


Julie Beck is the associate editor at InsideCounsel, and occasionally pops up elsewhere on the Internet. She’s written for Popular Science, The Billfold, The Atlantic, The Hairpin and Vulture, among other places. She came to Chicago from Michigan, America’s high-five, to attend Northwestern University, where she graduated in 2011 with a major in journalism and a minor in French. She travels as much as she can and always checks too many books out of the library. 

Abby Crites 


 Abby is currently a graduate student at the University of Chicago working towards her PhD in astronomy.  She works on a telescope called the South Pole Telescope.  This telescope has a 10m dish and is designed to look at the Cosmic Microwave background (CMB), light from the universe just after the big bang. She loves working in the lab, soldering and assembling parts for the telescope instruments, and has been to the South Pole three times!

Sarah Gouda

Sarah currently works as a writer and editor for Groupon. She studied biology as an undergraduate, and she has worked as a research assistant for the human genetics department at University of Chicago.  She likes to practice yoga, and completed her 200-hour teacher certification in the summer of 2012. She also writes anything from essays to sitcom scripts in her spare time, and recently published a humor piece in Grid Magazine.

Jen Helsby


Jen Helsby grew up on a farm in the UK, went to university in Florida to study physics and is now working on her Ph.D. in astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Her research is in cosmology, which is the study of the universe as a whole – its origin, development, and future. Her work involves traveling to Chile to use large astronomical telescopes on mountaintops in the Atacama desert and lots of computer programming. She likes making music, eating indian food, and playing with cats. 

Anuja Mahashabde

My name is Anuja and I am excited about participating in the Adler Astro-Journalist Program as a mentor. My background is in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. I received my PhD at MIT studying environmental impacts of aviation and completed my undergraduate studies at Rutgers University. I currently work at the MITRE Corporation on making our air transportation system more efficient and on better understanding the environmental impacts of aircraft activity. I am also a volunteer with the Adler Far Horizons Project where I am learning to work with electronics. In my free time I enjoy reading, traveling, and exploring new cuisines.

Reid Sherman

Reid at CARMA

Dr. Reid Sherman grew up in the Bronx, and was interested in science from a young age. He vaguely considered studying engineering until being introduced to astronomy at Haverford College. He’s been dedicated to astronomy research and education ever since. He got his Ph.D. at the University of Chicago, doing his graduate research on building new infrared instruments and studying the properties of star-forming clouds in infrared and radio emission.
He was a Visiting Professor at Vassar College in 2011, and since then has been a researcher at the University of Chicago. He also occasionally travels to the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter Astronomy in California, where he also enjoys hiking in the nearby mountains.

Christopher Tarczynski

I’m Christopher Tarczynski. I got my bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Chemistry from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I currently work as a researcher at Northwestern University in the Institute of Bionanotechnology and Medicine (IBNAM). I have done research on Alzheimer’s disease in the past and am now doing research in regenerative medicine. I enjoy swimming, biking, opera, Japanese cuisine, and flying gliders. I hope to learn to SCUBA dive soon!



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