Planetarium Staff

Jean 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 and elegance of the cosmos with over 150,000 members of our community.

Victoria Robison, Assistant Director

It was a teacher’s enthusiasm that sparked my interest in physics and astronomy and led me to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Physics from UW-Milwaukee. I jumped at the chance to work at the UWM Planetarium while I was a student. After graduating, I entered the field of mathematics and science education as a research coordinator and copyeditor. It is my pleasure to return to the Planetarium in 2018 as Assistant Director to share my passion for supporting exciting, meaningful, and accessible astronomy programs for all. When I’m not daydreaming about the mysteries of the universe, I’m tending my community garden, playing music, and plotting my next travel destination.

Nkaujoua Xiong (Summer 2021 – )

Hi! My name is Nkaujoua which means “beautiful otter” in Hmong but I also go by NK and I am pursuing a BFA in Film with a minor in JAMS. I am excited to learn more about the universe and implement my film and design background as I assist in creating programs for the planetarium. I love animating short films, working behind a camera, playing the guitar, digital art, and road trips.

Quinn Stephens (Summer 2021 – )

Hi I’m Quinn! I am currently an undergraduate student at UWM and pursing a degree in Design and Visual Communication. I will be interning as a Design and Production Associate for the planetarium. As a designer, I am super excited about the opportunity to work with the team and learn more about the universe. I am already in love with the endless colors and organic patterns within our solar system. In my free time I enjoy listening to music, working on art, and spending time outside.

Emily Gerlikovski (Summer 2021 – )

Emily is a communication intern for the Planetarium and a graduate student in the Communication program, planning to obtain her MA in Spring 2022. She hopes to continue pursuing her education, and one day become a professor. Her research interests are in interpersonal communication, but Emily is a lifelong learner, and she has always been interested in space and the stars. A large part of what attracted her to this internship was not only the working and professional experience, but also the opportunity to learn more about astronomy. In her free time, she enjoys reading books, watching YouTube videos, and simply relaxing.

Courtney Meyers (Spring 2021 – )

Courtney is interning as an illustrator and is working on drawing an original series of constellations for the planetarium. She also assists our other designers with background illustrations and more. Courtney is majoring in Digital Studio Practice with a focus on character design and illustrative concept art. During the pandemic, she has stayed busy working on personal art, sailing the high seas as a pirate in Rare’s video game Sea of Thieves, and socializing with friends through Minecraft. Courtney’s by far most recommended game she found in quarantine, however, would be Spiritfarer (2020) by Thunder Lotus Games.

Allison Gleesing (Fall 2020 – )

Hi I’m Allison! I’m an undergraduate student at UWM pursuing a degree in Design and Visual Communication. I’m super excited to be a part of the Planetarium team, because what designer wouldn’t love to work with the night sky. The stars and planets have such a strong visual pull that I leaped at the chance to be involved. In my free time I love to read, draw, listen to music, and do anything outside.

Sparrow Roch (Winter 2019 – )

Sparrow is majoring in physics and computer science and helps the planetarium behind the scenes with educational content and delivery. Their favorite part of working at the planetarium is learning about how to better communicate astronomical ideas from both scientific and design perspectives.  Sparrow enjoys nature activities, D&D and tabletop games, DIY projects, and longsword fencing. They stay positive by getting outside, hanging out and gaming with friends online, and – of course – learning more about science!

Mia Dreher (Winter 2019 – )

Mia Dreher

I am an undergraduate student at UWM working towards a BFA in Design and Visual Communication with a certificate in Digital Design and Fabrication. I am always passionate about finding an opportunity to research and learn, and helping to create the shows here at the planetarium is an invaluable experience to expand my knowledge of the universe while using my design skills to help share that incredible information with the community. In my free time I love watching movies, working on art, and getting lost on online informational deep dives.

Kieran Arnold (Winter 2019 – )

For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with the universe and everything that makes it up. I am pursuing a degree in business management, however, I enjoy learning about astronomy since business has a tendency to be somewhat boring. I joined the Planetarium Club here at UWM initially because I needed a way to get involved and I was captivated by looking at beautiful night skies that I had never seen before. Soon after I was very lucky to be hired by the Planetarium as a presenter. I love the work that I do here at the Planetarium because I am giving other people the chance to be enthralled the same way that I was when I first visited the Planetarium. I always wake up every day feeling honored to do the work that I do.

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.


Former Staff Members