Dr. Jorge Perez-Gallego is a multifaceted astronomer, designer, museum professional, and educator with a Ph.D. in astronomy and an M.F.A. in design. I drink chocolate milk and ride my bike to places. My happy place is one in which my creative juices can flow toward celebrating wonder whether developing innovative informal science education opportunities or building meaningful bridges between science, art and technology. Currently, I am a scholar at CU Boulder where, among other things, I co-direct NEST with Tara Knight and Erin Espelie, work toward making Fiske Planetarium (& Science Center) a reference in informal science education and a welcoming creative avenue; and count myself among the fine folks of the faculty at the Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences department.
My interdisciplinary background has allowed me to succeed in industry and academia. I have worked on an eclectic set of projects for cultural institutions—including project management, curatorial and strategic planning efforts—and taught graduate and undergraduate courses on subjects as diverse as astronomy, physics, graphic design, science fiction literature and cinema, and interactive media at institutions such as the University of Florida, the University of Miami, and the University of Colorado Boulder.
As an astronomer, my main area of research is galaxy formation and evolution over cosmological timescales. In particular, I have looked at the structure, kinematics and stellar populations of galaxies both in the nearby and in the distant universe. The comparative analysis of these populations allows us to describe how galaxies have evolved in the last 12 billion years. Today my focus is on the DUNES mission which aims to provide the first complete census of over 150 nearby galaxy halos down to very low surface brightness in order to unveil the elusive nature of Dark Matter in the universe.
As an educator, I am interested in informal science education, and the way science is taught in school settings; and, among other things, I look at computer simulations as a way to engage, excite, and generate interest in science. Currently, I am co-PI of WHIMC, an NSF-funded project that leverages Minecraft as an informal learning environment for young learners to interactively explore the scientific consequences of alternative versions of Earth via “what if?” questions, such as “What if the Earth had no moon?” or “What if the Earth were twice its current size?” I am also a member of SciAll.org, a nonprofit science education and research organization that seeks to humanize scientists, demystify the process of scientific discovery, and make STEM career mentoring accessible to all.
As a designer, I am interested in building bridges between sciences, art and technology in cultural venues to facilitate the understanding of the world within and around us.
Science centers and museums often seem the perfect scenario to look at the productive romance between the art and the sciences as two complementary ways of thinking, which is what brought me to become, for a few years, a pivotal member of the opening team at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science—which opened in May of 2017 in Miami, FL and welcomed over 900,000 guests during its first year. Among other projects, I led the curatorial and creative efforts during the development of the cutting-edge 67-foot Frost Planetarium; and the permanent Feathers to the Stars exhibition, about the past, present and future of flight. Furthermore, I co-led the temporary LASERsHOW installation, part science demonstration, part soundscape, sculpture and laser show; and the LATE@Frost Science event series for a more sophisticated museum audience with an interest in science and art.
My work has been published in leading international journals and conferences on the fields of museums, scientific research, and art. Among other efforts, I have developed exhibitions and programs for institutions such as the Florida Museum, the NASA Florida Space Grant Consortium and Telefónica Talentum Schools, have co-founded the award winning design studio ODDS, have curated a handful of exhibitions and shows, and have been featured in both radio and television. Finally, I am an expert on multilingual communication in cultural settings such as museums.
Besides co-parenting Ona and Arlo, my free time is devoted to the outdoors, bicycle advocacy, soccer, and science fiction.
The header image is a crop from a drawing by the late Sean Duran, a friend and mentor who left us way too soon.