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Michael Rizzo

Mike Rizzo is a lifetime Star Trek and SciFi Fan. He grew up watching classic SciFi TV like Star Trek the original series, Lost in Space, and Space 1999. Of course, in 1977 his world changed when Star Wars hit the theaters. Throughout the years he has collected and created props and memorabilia from the many movies and TV shows he loved. Mike worked in the TV broadcasting industry for 23 years with specialty in studio lighting and engineering. Mike has been a volunteer at the Set Tour since 2015. He currently hosts his own SciFi webcast called SciFi Distilled airing weekly on Facebook and YouTube!

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Kent Schmidt

Kent Schmidt was born in South Carolina, but was relocated to Upstate NY when he was a teenager. He graduated college with a degree in Political Science. He began working in retail environments until he started a 22-year career selling and leasing automobiles. A lifelong computer and electronic enthusiast, he transitioned into an IT management position with the Della Auto Group and now supports 250+ users with their technology issues. He is one year and one day younger than the original Star Trek, but was propped up in his crib to watch some of the original run… After Trek went into syndication, he rarely missed an episode after school and never during the summer months. He worked as a Production Assistant, then Grip, Key Grip, and finally, Gaffer for the long-running fan series Star Trek New Voyages/ Phase II. His study of Jerry Finnerman’s lighting techniques and practices and his application of those methods resulted in the high point of his lighting career when David Gerrold said “You are channeling Jerry Finnerman with your lighting. Kent, he would be proud of you.” His perspective on the Borg stems from an extensive Science Fiction library and decades of reading, watching, and studying Sci-Fi in all its forms.

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Phil Merkel

Phil Merkel aka “Captain Phil” is a DJ on WUSB 90.1 fm radio and host of “Captain Phil’s Planet.” The Planet airs alternate Thursdays 3 pm to 5 pm and streams at if you are out of the WUBS listening area. Captain Phil embraces all music genres on his planet and most other planets as well. In a former life, Phil taught music for a Special Education agency on Long Island for 31 years. He is now retired and living in his secret underground headquarters somewhere in West Coxsackie, NY.

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802 Ghostbusters

802 Ghostbusters is a group of Ghostbusters cosplayers based in Rutland, Vermont. We attend several events over the course of the year, including conventions, fundraising events, parades, and other community activities. We are happy to help with cosplay and prop-building questions. We are a group for fans and members alike and we support anyone who wants to be a Ghostbuster!

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Dave McOwen & Dani Riedel

Seriously Nerdy Comedy is a group of East Coast stand-up comedians dedicated to telling the nerdiest jokes at all the nerdiest places. Dave McOwen is a professional museum nerd, DC-based comedian, and retired US Air Force flight medic. He has performed at the DC Improv, at an assortment of comic/sci-fi conventions across the country (including New York Comic Con), and online (with Myq Kaplan and Aparna Nancherla). In his spare time he teaches stand up to veterans and military family members for the Armed Services Arts Partnership, takes too much Motrin, and is the social media manager for a variety of woodland creatures. You can find him at

Dani Riedel is an NYC based comedian and author. She performs as Seven of Nine at conventions all along the east coast and as herself all over NYC and beyond. Her novel, Smile and Walk Away, is published by Champagne Books and available everywhere books are sold online.

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Andrew Liptak

Andrew Liptak is a writer and historian from Vermont. He is the author of Cosplay: A History (Saga Press, 2022), and his work has appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, Gizmodo, io9, Kirkus Reviews, Lifehacker, Slate,, VentureBeat, The Verge, and other publications. He writes a newsletter, Transfer Orbit, which explores the state of science fiction, reading, and the real world.

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Dr. David Alexander

Dr Alexander was selected as a NASA Flight Surgeon in November 2004. His NASA Flight Surgeon Training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training and ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training. He is a certified Flight Controller for the International Space Station and Shuttle. He served as Deputy Crew Surgeon for Shuttle Mission STS-123 and ISS Expeditions 11, 23, and 47. He was the Lead Crew Surgeon for Expeditions 14, 33/34, 42/43 and 52. He was also Lead Crew Surgeon for STS-128.

His titles include:

  • Lead, Medical Operations, Suit Design Team – Constellation
  • Lead, Medical Operations, Suit Design Team – Commercial
  • Medical Operations Lead – Direct Return Operations – Soyuz Crew Recovery
  • oVIIP (operational Visual Impairment and Intracranial Hypertension) working group member
  • Intraocular Pressure Training Lead and In-Flight Director
  • SME Subject Matter Expert) Atmospheres and CO2
    • Directs the Operational CO2 working group
    • Research includes terrestrial chamber and on orbit effects of various concentrations of CO2 and O2
    • Design Requirements reviewer for atmospheres the vehicles: Constellation, Orion, SpaceX, Boeing
  • Medical Spaceflight Atmospheric Standards Lead

His military Experience Includes:

  • Squadron Medical Element 39th Fighter Squadron, Mountain Home ID
  • Lead on Emergency Response Package for Expeditionary MEDical Support System
  • Flight Surgeon, then Chief of Flight Medicine, and then Chief or Aerospace Medicine at the 149th Fighter Wing
  • Currently:
    • Officer in Charge and Flight Surgeon on the Regional Medical Planning Team – Region 6 (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico)
    • Deputy State Air Surgeon, Texas
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Professor Matthew Szydagis

Dr. Matthew Szydagis grew up with Star Trek: The Next Generation and after watching Lt. Cmdr. Data he realized that science officer was the position for him. He received his B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2005, 2006, and 2011 respectively, then continued his work in physics as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of California Davis (2010-14).

Since 2014, Dr. Szydagis has been a member of the physics faculty at the University at Albany SUNY, pursuing experimental particle astrophysics, in particular direct laboratory detection of dark matter particles, underground. He works on the liquid-Xenon-based LZ experiment and with supercooled water (the “snowball chamber”), and is the developer of the NEST (Noble Element Simulation Technique) computer software.

Since 2019 Matthew has also been a member of UAPx, helping to seek answers regarding the true nature of UAP from a scientific perspective. Most recently, you can find him as a regular on the History Channel TV show “The Proof is Out There” and in the documentary film “A Tear in the Sky.”