Planetarium Staff

Jean CreightonJean Creighton, Director

I have always lived in cities where the lights tend to obscure the stars. This may be why I appreciate a Planetarium theater. I was born in Toronto, Ontario and I grew up in Athens, Greece where my mother claims I showed a great interest in how stars form from the age of five. To understand better how the universe works I studied Physics (University of Athens). My honors thesis was on the planet Neptune, which spurred me to cross the Atlantic to get a masters degree in Astronomy (Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia) and a Ph.D. in Astrophysics (University of Waterloo). From 1998-1999, I was involved in an infrared satellite called WIRE as a postdoctoral researcher at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Since September 1999, I have been teaching Astronomy at various levels at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and, in 2007, I became director of the UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium. In 2014, I was selected by NASA to be an Airborne Astronomy Ambassador and to spend 20 hours in the stratosphere on SOFIA, the largest moving observatory in the world. In 2017, I was chosen for the University of Wisconsin System Regents Academic Staff Excellence Award. I am very proud to have shared the beauty of the cosmos and the elegance of the cosmos with over 100,000 members of our community.

jack-bio-picJohn “Jack” Fennimore (Spring 2016 – )

Jack has lived all his life on the edge of Milwaukee in Greendale, WI but he has come to view the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the city that surrounds it as his second home. He is currently studying Journalism (with an emphasis on media studies) and psychology at UWM. He feels very blessed to have the opportunity to work directly with the UWM Planetarium promoting all of the wonderful events it has to offer. He also enjoys writing video game, movie, and theater reviews for the entertainment section of the UWM Post (aka The Fringe) as well as biking around the beautiful parks in and around the Milwaukee area.

sam-bio-pic-fixed-blargasoreousSam Gallagher (Fall 2015 – )

I am an undergraduate student here at UWM working towards a BS in Information Science and Technology. I’m a huge nerd and lover of science, and working here at the planetarium brings me childlike joy. My focus is on production and website design, making pretty space images for others to enjoy. The size of space is astronomically huge, so huge that we will probably never stop asking questions about it. I’m excited to join the planetarium team here at UWM and plunge into the unknown of space, telescope in hand.

Madeline-bio-pic-fixedElise Murphy (Fall 2016 – )

I am currently an undergraduate student here at UWM working towards a BA in Film. I’m really excited to be involved with the production aspects of the Planetarium, considering it relates to my major. My fascination for astronomy is something I’ve had since I was a little girl and having a job that I’m passionate about is such a privilege. In my free time I enjoy hiking, socializing, and editing videos or taking photographs. I’m thrilled to discover everything the Planetarium has to offer here at UWM, and continue my passion for space and the stars.

derek-bio-pic-fixedDerek Palecek (Fall 2015 – )

I’m currently an undergraduate at UWM majoring in Computer Science. My fascination for the stars has traveled with me throughout my life and is the reason I decided to work at the planetarium. Helping invigorate curious minds about the wonders of the cosmos is my dream. Being employed here is an amazing opportunity and I can’t wait to help spread my love of astronomy to others. If I’m not already busy learning more about astronomy, I enjoy playing video games and socializing with friends.

nikolaus-bio-pic-fixedNikolaus Prusinski (Fall 2015 – )

Stargazing’s youngest team member is from Saint Francis High School’s Gifted and Talented Program. Nik is in a two year HS program, having matriculated at UWM in the fall of 2016 majoring in physics, emphasis in astronomy. Since Nik’s youth, he’s demonstrated an acute appreciation of Mathematics, Physics, Robotics Programming and Music. His interest in astronomy started here at the Manfred Olson Planetarium with Dr. Creighton’s Friday Night Shows. Nik’s ambition is to perpetuate this team’s enthusiasm of astronomy to our visitors. Find more information regarding Nik’s endeavors in the blog post written about him.

Nate-bio-pic-fixedNathaniel Schardin (Winter 2014 – )

Nathaniel Schardin graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College with a degree in Television & Video Production and a certification in Advanced Video Post Production. He has been nominated for 4 different Chicago/Midwest Chapter Emmy’s in the student category and has won 5 Wisconsin Broadcasters Association Awards for Excellence. In his free time he enjoys visiting and camping at National and State Parks as well as teaching himself all that there is to know about landscape and astrophotography. He is very excited for this opportunity to work at the Manfred Olson Planetarium as he hopes it will expand his knowledge of and further ignite his passion for the universe in which we all live.

Madeline-bio-pic-fixedDave Wichlacz (Fall 2016 – )

I am a senior this year at UWM and I’m currently pursuing a degree in journalism, advertising and media studies. (JAMS) As of this semester, I am an intern for the planetarium and I mostly focus on promoting through various channels. This job is great because I get to gain experience and I enjoy science as a hobby. Having an interest in the subject matter makes everything I write a learning experience and I often find myself researching astronomical subjects in my spare time now. Having stumbled into this opportunity by word of mouth, I truly appreciate everything that I can work on and create with the amazing staff. My other interests include the Green Bay Packers, long boarding, fishing, wearing hats, and the Green Bay Packers.

Former Staff and Interns