Guests 2018

Special Guests at EV 2018

Executive Producer, Director, Special Effects Makeup Supervisor/Designer – With more than three decades of work in the Film Industry, Greg Nicotero still remembers his first days working with Tom Savini and George A. Romero on Day of The Dead. This unexpected detour redirected Nicotero into the world of horror/fantasy special make-up effects that has included some memorable moments in recent screen history. Whether it is an epic buffalo hunt in Dances with Wolves, a drug overdose gone bad in Pulp Fiction, or shambling flesh eating undead in The Walking Dead, Nicotero has developed his love of monsters and special effects into a life-long career.

During his journey from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles, Nicotero’s love of genre films such as Alien, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and Dawn of the Dead provided a tremendous inspiration. Studying the effects work of Dick Smith, Rick Baker, and Rob Bottin ignited his interest in creature effects.

In 1988, after freelancing on films like Evil Dead 2 and Aliens, Nicotero encouraged friends to join him in opening a special make-up effects studio – thus KNB EFX Group was born. Within two years, he found himself moving from location to location designing and supervising make-up effects on films alongside the very filmmakers who inspired him, such as John Landis, Sam Raimi, and Wes Craven. Nicotero’s sense of design and developing filmmaking skills led to his company’s creation of hyper-realistic cadavers, replica heads, and articulated animal puppets for more than 800 feature films and television programs. He prides himself on his 100% dedication and passion for everything monsters. In 2003, he began working as a director, providing 2nd unit direction on several feature films including Land of The Dead, The Faculty, and The Mist.

Today Nicotero continues his collaboration with AMC on Preacher, while serving as executive producer and make-up effects designer on Fear The Walking Dead. During The Walking Dead’s hiatus, Nicotero supervised FX on the Robert Rodriguez/James Cameron film Alita: Battle Angel and the upcoming alien invasion film Captive State. To date, Nicotero has directed 25 episodes of The Walking Dead, including the monumental 100th Episode Season 8 Premiere and the finales for the last five years, while executive producing and supervising its multiple Emmy®-award winning special make-up effects in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ms. Landis regrets that due to a last minute, competing commitment that she must postpone her participation. She looks forward to joining us next year.

Deborah Nadoolman Landis, PhD, costume designer and historian, received an MFA in Costume Design from UCLA and a PhD in the History of Design from the Royal College of Art, London. Her distinguished career includes the classic Animal House (1978), The Blues Brothers (1980), An American Werewolf in London (1981), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Trading Places (1983), The Three Amigos (1987) Coming to America (1988), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, and the groundbreaking music video Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1983). A two-term president of the Costume Designers Guild, Professor Landis is the author of six books including Dressed: A Century of Hollywood Costume Design (2007), FilmCraft: Costume Design (2012), Hollywood Sketchbook: A Century of Costume Illustration (2012) and the catalogue for her landmark exhibition, Hollywood Costume, which she curated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. She is the editor-in-chief of the upcoming Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Film and Television Costume Design (2020). She is on the Board of the National Film Preservation Foundation and a Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Professor Landis is Chair and Founding Director of the David C. Copley Center for Costume Design at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television.

Astrid Anderson Bear started reading science fiction at an early age, attended Apollo Moon launches in the press box at Cape Kennedy, and hopes to someday see this planet from above. She has won multiple awards at science fiction convention masquerades and was one of the founding committee members of Costume-Con. She has served as an advisor to the Scout online community, is member of the advisory board of the Washington State Centennial Time Capsule and the X-Prize Sci-Fi Advisory Council, and a former board President of the Friends of the University of Washington Libraries. Astrid is a fiber artist, has a special interest in sustainable transportation and is the wife of Greg Bear and the daughter of Poul Anderson.

Award-winning science fiction author and Museum of Science Fiction advisory board member, Greg Bear is coming to Escape Velocity! Greg’s Eon series is perfectly on-theme for this year’s event: Other Worlds. Greg will be discussing Thistledown and the science behind building artificial worlds as well as signing books and participating on discussion panels. You can check out Greg’s latest work here.

Award-winning science fiction author and Museum of Science Fiction advisory board member, David Brin is coming to Escape Velocity! David’s book, Heaven’s Reach is perfectly on-theme for this year’s event: Other Worlds. David will be discussing Fractal World of his Uplift series (a fresh spin on the Dyson Sphere idea), a cluster of space habitats circling a white dwarf and the science behind building artificial worlds. You can check out David’s latest work here.

Kellie is a commercial spaceflight industry professional and popular science communicator. She is one of 100 candidates selected to colonize Mars via Dutch non-profit Mars One. Kellie serves as the media specialist of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation and is also a member of The Explorers Club. In 2014, she became the youngest member to co-chair The Explorers Club Annual Dinner (ECAD).

Mason Peck is an Associate Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Cornell University and the Director of Cornell’s Space Systems Design Studio. His research interests include space-systems architecture and satellite dynamics and control. Beginning in 2012 he served a two-year term as NASA’s Chief Technologist in Washington, DC. In that role, he acted as the agency’s chief strategist for technology investment and prioritization and chief advocate for innovation in aeronautics and space technology. Mason is also a member of the Museum of Science Fiction’s Board of Advisors and Technology Subcommittee.

Here at Ghostbusters Tri-State Division, we are driven by a single goal; to do our part in making the community a better place! As an Official Ghost Corps Franchise, we use nostalgia and our love of Ghostbusters to raise money for local charities. We strive to build productive relationships and make a positive impact with all of our pursuits.

Shaleigh is a DC-based DJ and singer whose musical influences include Imogen Heap, Lana del Rey, Banks, Kid Cudi, and Eminem. When not spinning, she can be found studying audio at American University or working at SiriusXM in Washington, D.C.

C. Alex Young is a solar astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the Associate Director for Science of its Helophysics Science Division. In this role he is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the education and public outreach (EPO) team for the division. In addition, he works with division scientists to promote and support their research. His research interests include solar activity, space weather, and statistical data analysis. Alex is also a member of the Museum of Science Fiction’s Board of Advisors and Technology Subcommittee.

Lena holds an MSc in engineering, an MBA, and a PhD in psychology. After 15 years of a successful career at the European Space Agency (ESTEC, The Netherlands), where she worked in business development, liaison, promotion and education, she published several popular books in English and Russian on the topic of space for children and adults, and hosted a television program in Belgium.

In 2013 she joined AIRC as a director, where she took on further duties as a director of ROOM, The Space Journal. Lena also plays a pivotal role in setting up and running Asgardia, the first space nation in human history founded by Dr. Igor Ashurbeyli.

Eric is the founder of Animation Roots Studio (ARS) and he is hosting over 10 hours of free workshops for aspiring artists at Escape Velocity this year. ARS is a freelance for profit business that umbrellas The Art Way Alliance (AWA). AWA is an emerging organization dedicated to helping children in the D.C. region make art of their own choosing in an environment of acceptance and encouragement. Eric is a connector of like-minded people from novices to masters. Eric often helps artists to highlight their personal artistic voice with creativity and style.

James is a sci-fi and fantasy author originally from New York and educated at Johns Hopkins University. He is the author of Inbiotic and The Antarcticans. His next two novels, Dark and The Cult of Mao were released in 2016. A self proclaimed sci-fi fan since birth, James is thrilled to be a part of Escape Velocity.

Aisha is a Ph.D. student in English Literature at Southern Methodist University, having finished her Master’s Degree at Southern New Hampshire University in early 2017. As an undergraduate at Yale (’13), she studied Young Adult Science Fiction Literature (alongside more classical sub-genres), and wrote her thesis on Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies quartet and the function of adolescent mechanisms such as slang, body modification, and self-harm throughout the series and the genre. At the Master’s level, she explored African-American Literature, Science and Speculative Fictions, Postmodern and Feminist Theory, and Contemporary American Literature. Her Master’s Thesis focused on Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster quintet, examining the series’ power structures through the Foucauldian framework of panopticism and exploring the dynamics of social constructionism as they apply to the narrative. At present, her research interests are focused on Afrofuturism, Science Fiction Criticism, and YA SF Literature.

Iron Knight Cosplay, a cosplayer in Northern Virginia who represents several famous characters and specializes in children’s charities and events, and has been featured by, Cosplayzine, Wingman magazine, and Cosfamous collector cards.

Dean of the School of Communication (SOC) at American University. Building on experience, he has launched an initiative with the College of Arts & Sciences to develop a center for persuasive gaming at AU. While at his previous position, Jeff oversaw growing programs in game design, game art and animation, public relations, broadcast and streaming media, and emergent media (MFA). Jeff also serves on the Museum of Science Fiction’s Board of Advisors.

Dr. Winter is an astrophysicist working for the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). Dr. Winter has worked on eight NASA missions observing the Sun with varied duties such as designing optics, analyzing complex data sets, instrument calibration, planning observations, and designing software to automatically detect features in big data streams. His primary research focus is improving computer simulations to explore how energy is released in the Sun’s atmosphere, the corona, and in other stars. Doctor Winter also designs video wall exhibits that bring the wonder and beauty of the Sun and the universe to public. His exhibits have been featured at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, North Carolina State University’s Hunt Library, and the Harvard Art Museums’ Lightbox Gallery. His current project, Eclipse Soundscapes (, designed and built unique tools that brought the awe and wonder of the August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse to people who are blind and visually impaired. Trae is also a member of the Museum of Science Fiction’s Board of Advisors.

Dr. Grinspoon is an astrobiologist, award-winning science communicator, and prize-winning author, as well as a frequent advisor to NASA on space exploration strategy. His new book Earth in Human Hands was named a Best Book of the Year by NPR’s Science Friday. He is a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and has participated on the science teams of several interplanetary spacecraft. In 2013 he was appointed as the inaugural Chair of Astrobiology at the U.S. Library of Congress where he studied the human impact on Earth and organized a public symposium on the Longevity of Human Civilization. Grinspoon’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Atlantic Monthly, Scientific American, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times. He lectures widely, and appears frequently on television, radio and podcasts, including as a frequent guest on StarTalk Radio and host of the new spinoff StarTalk All Stars.