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Mark V. Sykes, Ph.D., J.D., Chief Executive Officer and Director

Mark Sykes, CEO Mark grew up in the U.S. Air Force, living in numerous places around the country before going to college at the University of Oregon.  He spent summers conducting photometric and polarimetric studies of eclipsing binary stars at Pine Mountain Observatory, writing his Bachelor thesis on a search for periodicities in the lightcurve of the black-hole system, Cygnus X-1.  He also studied music composition.  In 1978, he received a Bachelor of Arts, Honors College, in Physics.  He subsequently studied Fourier optics and laser physics at the Oregon Graduate Center from which he received a Masters of Electronic Science in 1982.  He received his Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona in 1986, and was awarded its Gerard P. Kuiper Memorial Award for his research.  He discovered cometary dust trails, which revealed comets to be far more rocky (refractory) than previously thought, and discovered numerous rings of dust surrounding the inner solar system arising from asteroid collisions between Mars and Jupiter.  He is a Co-Investigator on the NASA Dawn mission to Vesta and Ceres in the asteroid belt.  He has served as Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  He has served on and chaired numerous NASA review panels and advisory groups. He is also the founder of the Planetary Exploration Newsletter.  Mark received his Juris Doctor in 1998 from the University of Arizona, and is admitted into the Arizona State Bar and to practice before the Federal District Court.  In 1991 he was honored by the International Astronomical Union with the designation of Minor Planet 4435 Sykes for his discoveries and in 2007 he was the first recipient of the NASA Planetary Science Division Distinguished Service Award.  In 2016 he was given the Harold Masursky Award for Meritorious Service to Planetary Science by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.


Bruce Barnett, C.P.A., Chief Financial Officer

Bruce Barnett, CFO

Bruce arrived at the Planetary Science Institute in 2005 with over twenty years of financial management experience, most recently as Director of Finance at Columbia University’s Biosphere 2 Center. Prior to transitioning to non-profit organizations, Bruce worked for the Lisa Frank Corporation in Tucson, Arizona in the capacities of Chief Financial Officer, Treasurer, and Director of Business Development. He moved to Arizona in 1994 after working ten years for the EZ Por Corporation, a national distributer of foil-ware products in Wheeling, Illinois, in various leadership positions including Director of Operations and Controller.

Bruce received his bachelor’s degree in 1984 from Northern Illinois University with majors in Accounting and Finance, and his CPA from the State of Illinois in 1986. Bruce also served thirteen years in the U.S. Navy, four years active duty assigned to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Six stationed in Norfolk, VA with multiple deployments, and 9 years active reserve duty assigned to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 51 stationed in Glenview, IL.




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