The Teams

PUNCH Management Team

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Dr. Craig DeForest

Craig DeForestPrincipal Investigator

Southwest Research Institute


Ph.D. in Applied Physics, Stanford University, 1996

B.A. in Physics, Reed College, 1989


Leads the PUNCH team and is responsible for ensuring programmatic, technical, and scientific success in all aspects of the PUNCH mission.

Professional Background and Supporting Experience

Craig DeForest is Southwest Research Institute’s Program Director for solar astrophysics, and the Vice-Chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division (AAS/SPD). He holds an adjunct professorship at the University of Colorado.

DeForest has studied the Sun, its corona, and the solar wind for over 30 years. His graduate studies at Stanford University (1989-1995) centered on the Multi-Spectral Solar telescope Array, a sounding rocket that helped pioneer EUV imaging of the solar corona. He was Resident Observer (at NASA/GSFC) for the Michelson Doppler Imager experiment on the SOHO mission from 1995-1999; during this time he explored dynamics of the corona and the limits of solar observing in the faint outer corona. Between 2000-2016, he led several ground and suborbital instrument development efforts including SHAZAM (a novel high-speed magnetograph), DASH (a ground-based demonstration heliospheric imaging observatory), and SSIPP (a balloon-borne miniature solar observatory). From 1999-2016, was Press Officer for the AAS/SPD, after which he stepped down to lead PUNCH.

DeForest is well known for his expertise in solar data analysis and reduction. He developed the analysis tools that enabled the current era of photometric heliospheric imaging, and has exploited them with a series of groundbreaking papers. Major milestones include: (1997) first detection of traveling waves in the solar corona; (2001) imaging of faint polar plumes to the limits of the LASCO field of view; (2009) demonstration that the EUV corona is more spatially variable than previously thought; (2011) first background-subtracted heliospheric images useful for feature photometry; (2012) first complete tracking from Sun to Earth of a single CME, and demonstration of the solar origin of CME plasma at Earth; (2014) sensitive detection of inbound features in the outer solar corona using 2-D velocity filtration; (2015) measurement of solar wind turbulence via comet tail tracking; (2016) detection of the breakup of coronal structure and transition to solar wind flow, 0.2 AU from the Sun; (2017) remote measurement of CME chirality, via 3D polarized imaging; (2018) discovery of very highly structured fine detail in the outer solar corona using deep-field campaign data from STEREO/COR2.

Selected Publications Relevant to PUNCH

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2018: The Highly Structured Outer Solar Corona, APJ 862, 18

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2017: 3D Polarized Imaging of CMEs: Chirality of a CME, APJ 850, 130

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2016: Fading coronal structure and the…young solar wind, APJ 828, 66

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2016: The utility of polarized heliospheric imaging for space weather monitoring, Sp. Wx. 14, 1.

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2015: Turbulence…Solar Wind...Comet Tail Test Particles, APJ 812, 108

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2015: Feasibility of Heliospheric Imaging from Near Earth, APJ 804, 126

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2014: Inbound waves … Alfvén surface location, APJ 787, 124

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2013: Tracking Features from the Low Corona to Earth, APJ 769, 43

Howard, T.A., Tappin, S.J., Odstrcil, D., & DeForest, C.E. 2013: The Thomson Surface. III: Tracking Features in 3D, APJ 765, 45

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2012: Disconnecting Solar Magnetic Flux, APJ 745, 36

Howard, T.A., & DeForest, C.E. 2012: The Thomson Surface. I: Reality & Myth, APJ 752, 130.

Howard, T.A. & DeForest, C.E. 2012: Inner Heliospheric Flux Rope Evolution via Imaging of Coronal Mass Ejections, APJ 746, 64

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2011: Detailed Structure in the Solar Wind ..., APJ 738, 103

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2001: Observation of Polar Plumes at High … Altitudes, APJ 546, 569

DeForest, C.E. et al. 2001: Polar Plume Lifetime and Coronal Hole Expansion, APJ 560, 490

Full CV

Ronnie Killough

Ronnie KilloughProject Manager

Southwest Research Institute


M.S. in Computer Engineering, Texas A&M University, 1990

B.S. in Computer Science, Angelo State University, 1987

Professional Background

Program Director, Space Science and Engineering, Southwest Research Institute, 2014-present

Director Communications & Embedded Systems, Southwest Research Institute, 2004-2014

Assistant Director Automation & Data Systems, Southwest Research Institute, 2002-2004

Section Manager Automation & Data Systems, Southwest Research Institute, 1997-2002

Research Analyst/Sr. Research Analyst Automation & Data Systems, Southwest Research Institute, 1990-1997


Manage resources, schedule and cost; perform day-to-day programmatic and technical management to ensure PUNCH meets technical and performance requirements within cost and schedule; oversee SwRI prime contract with NASA/GSFC; responsible to the PUNCH PI.

Experience Relevant to PUNCH

Mr. Killough has almost 30 years experience in the design, development and management of complex systems, including NASA mission control systems, cruise missile simulators, military network-centric systems, and satellite and space instrumentation flight software (FSW). He most recently served as Deputy Systems Engineer, FSW lead, and one of two Flight Directors for the CYGNSS mission, a constellation of eight micro-satellites currently in-orbit that are measuring hurricane strength from space. Prior to CYGNSS, Mr. Killough was Director of Communications & Embedded Systems, overseeing a diverse portfolio of R&D programs, most notably two large network-centric interoperability systems for the U.S. military, and design and development of the flight test system for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Mr. Killough is also a certified Project Management Professional (P.M.P.).

Supporting Experience

Systems and FSW roles on IMAGE, Swift, Deep Impact, and New Horizons

Performed critical role on CYGNSS in resolving multiple technical & programmatic issues; presented resolution of late pre-launch issues to NASA resulting in launch approval.

FSW lead for Swift UVOT and XRT, and program-level technical consultant on Swift to GSFC Explorers Office (in 11th year, ranked #1 in NASA Senior Review 3 times)

Served on numerous NASA IRTs and SRBs (e.g. TRDS-H, AIM, THEMIS, and TESS)

Member of the NASA Engineering & Safety Center (NESC) Technical Management Team (TMT)

Served on several university Industry Advisory Boards (e.g. Texas Tech University, University of Texas-San Antonio).

Management sponsor and engineering process expert for 4 successful Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) independent assessments (two at Level 3; two at Level 5)

Selected Publications Relevant to PUNCH

Killough, al (2017) CYGNSS Launch and Early Ops: Parenting Octuplets, Small Satellite Conference.

Killough, R. et al (2016) Simulators, Software and Small Satellites: Testing in Tight Spaces, IEEE Aerospace Conference.

Killough, R. (2013) Software Engineering Processes for Class D Missions. SPIE Optics and Photonics 2013 - Earth Observing Systems XVIII.

Killough, R. (2012) Challenges in Securing and Utilizing Space Assets. Cyber Applications for Space Session of Air Force Space Command Cyber Vision 2025 Summit.

Jennifer Campbell

Jennifer CampbellDeputy Project Manager

Southwest Research Institute


M.A. Linguistics, University of Colorado at Boulder, 2013

B.A. English Literature, Azusa Pacific University, 2011

Professional Background

Specialist, Southwest Research Institute, 2019 – present

Lecturer, Program for Writing & Rhetoric, CU Boulder, 2013-2019

Lecturer, TESOL Certificate Program, Linguistics, CU Boulder, 2017-2019

Team Coach, Flatirons Gymnastics Center, 2011-2019


Conduct PUNCH mission schedule analysis, tracking, and reporting.

Experience Relevant to PUNCH

Prior to her work with PUNCH Ms. Campbell worked for the University of Colorado at Boulder teaching a wide array of writing and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) courses in which she helped manage undergraduate students’ projects and adherence to deadlines.

Dr. Sarah Gibson

Sarah GibsonProject Scientist

NCAR: High Altitude Observatory


Ph.D. in Astrophysics, University of Colorado-Boulder, 1995

M.S. in Astrophysics, University of Colorado-Boulder, 1993

B.S. in Physics, Stanford University, 1989

Professional Background

HAO Deputy Director, 2020-2021

HAO Interim Director, 2019-2020

HAO Solar Section Head, 2010-2019

HAO Scientist, 2001-present

Research Assistant Professor The Catholic University of America, 1998-1999; 2000-2001

NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Cambridge, 1999-2000

NRC Postdoctoral Fellow, NASA GSFC,1996-1998


Karen Harvey Prize, for outstanding early career contributions


Organize and lead the PUNCH Science Team and interface between the Science Team and the PI. Track and maintain observing requirements driven by the Science Objectives.

Experience Relevant to PUNCH

Dr. Sarah Gibson examines solar drivers of the space environment, from short-term space weather drivers such as coronal mass ejections, to long-term solar cycle variation.

Dr. Gibson has extensive experience leading scientific teams. She led the international Whole Sun Month (WSM) and Whole Heliosphere Interval (WHI) coordinated observing and modeling efforts to characterize the 3D interconnected solar-heliospheric-planetary system at solar minimum, and is currently leading a multi-institutional effort to quantify the magnetic field of the Sun’s atmosphere. She has led ISSI International Teams on the subjects of Prominence Cavities and Coronal Magnetism, and is responsible for the oversight and ongoing development of the FORWARD SolarSoft IDL code suite, with input from more than a dozen community authors. Dr. Gibson participated in the Nov. 1997 and Nov. 1998 flights of the Spartan space shuttle payload in support of the white-light coronagraph.

Supporting Experience

Dr. Gibson uses theoretical models to understand the magnetic origins of CMEs and related space weather phenomena. A particular focus is observations and models of coronal prominence cavities, which are long-lived structures in the Sun’s atmosphere that store the magnetic energy liberated in CMEs.

Selected Publications Relevant to PUNCH

Gibson, S.E., de Toma, G., Emery, B., Riley, P., Zhao, L.,

Elsworth, Y., Leamon, R. J., Lei, J., McIntosh, S., Mewaldt, R. A., Thompson, B. J., and Webb, D. F., (2011), WHI in the context of current solar minimum, Solar Physics, 274, 10.1007/s11207- 011-9921-4.

Gibson, S.E., Kozyra, J. U., De Toma, G., Emery, B. A., Onsager, T., and Thompson, B. J., If the Sun is so quiet, why is the Earth ringing? A comparison of two solar minimum intervals (2009), JGR, 114, A09105.

Gibson, S.E. & Fan, Y., Partially-ejected flux ropes: implications for interplanetary coronal mass ejections (2008), JGR, 113, CiteID A09103.

Full CV

Alan Henry

Alan HenryProject Systems Engineer

Southwest Research Institute


B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, University of Texas, 1990

Professional Background

Staff Engineer, Southwest Research institute, 2013-present

Principal Engineer, Southwest Research Institute, 2006-2013

Senior Principal Engineer, Orbital Sciences Corporation, 2003-2006

Principal Engineer, ORBCOMM, LLC, 1997-2003

Flight Dynamics/Microgravity Team, Northrop-Grumman Corporation, 1990-1997


Manage development and integration of the PUNCH Observatories, ensuring they meet all technical and performance requirements within cost and schedule; report directly to the PUNCH PM.

Experience Relative to PUNCH

Mr. Alan Henry has more than 25 years of spacecraft design, development, integration, and operations experience. He has proven management, organization and leadership skills on multiple space hardware and S/C programs. Mr. Henry also managed the AI&T for the CYGNSS constellation of eight microsatellites developed by SwRI. He served as the I&T Manager for the NASA MMS Instrument Suite, a constellation of four Observatories managed by GSFC for 4 years prior to transitioning to CYGNSS.

Supporting Experience

Mr. Henry’s previous roles at SwRI include: Deputy Project Manager for Dream Chaser Fault Tolerant Flight Computer, Systems Engineer for the Aries Spaceborne Power Supply; Project Manager for the Manhattan Spacecraft Avionics Engineering Unit; and Deputy Project Manager and Systems Engineering support for the Tracker Spacecraft Avionics.

Mr. Henry came to SwRI from Orbital Sciences Corporation, where he was a Senior Principal Systems Engineer on NASA’s DAWN Interplanetary Spacecraft program managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He was responsible for maintaining the flight system and subsystem specifications, the environment requirements document, and the flight-to-ground interface control document. He supported JPL’s Mission Operations team with flight rule development and planning of the end-to-end information system test, mission scenario test, and initial on-orbit checkout. He also served as test director for the comprehensive performance test suite for the DAWN spacecraft. At ORBCOMM, Mr. Henry supported launch and operations for a 35-spacecraft constellation serving as flight dynamics analyst and space-weather cognizant engineer.

Immediately after receiving his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering, he performed microgravity analysis on the International Space Station flight dynamics team.

PUNCH NASA Management Team

David Cheney

David CheneyNASA Mission Executive

NASA: Science Mission Directorate / Heliophysics Division


M.S. Meteorology and Oceanography, Naval Postgraduate School, 2011

B.A. Physics Education, Brigham Young University, 1999

A.S., Ricks College, 1994

Professional Background

Mr. Cheney taught math and science at the High School and Junior High School level in Utah from 1998-2000.

He served on active duty in the Navy from 2000-2020. While in the Navy he taught physics and reactor physics at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, worked as a meteorologist providing forecasts for Naval assets from 2004-2009 and again 2011-2012. He worked at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency from 2013-2015. He worked with the DoD Space Test Program from 2015-2018 and finished his naval career at Naval Research Laboratory.

While working with the DoD Space Test Program, Mr. Cheney managed the mission design which included the government rideshare working group. His responsibilities included designing rideshare missions, both with hosted payloads and rideshare launch. Everything that is launched by this organization became rideshare. He also helped manage over 30 experiments from the Navy by making sure they were prepared to fly as a rideshare on missions of opportunity. He also managed 4 different launch missions, each having different challenges and issues regarding launch and rideshare compatibility.

Mr. Cheney started at NASA in July 2020 as a Program Executive serving in the Heliophysics Division as part of the SMD Rideshare Office. He manages the Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) and Polarimeter to Unify the Corona and Heliosphere (PUNCH) projects and all Heliophysics CubeSat missions.

Tyrone Dillard

Tyrone DillardExplorers Mission Manager

NASA: Explorers Program


M.S. in Engineering Management, The George Washington University, 2014

B.S. in Electrical Engineering, Capitol Technology University, 2013

B.S. in Electronics Engineering Technology, Thomas Edison State University, 2011

Professional Background

Tyrone Dillard began his career in aerospace nearly 20 years ago in the United States Marine Corps where he served as an enlisted Aviation Electronics Technician. As a Marine, he troubleshot and repaired navigation and communication systems for fixed and rotary winged military aircrafts. In 2006, after 5 years of service in the Marines, he was honorably discharged and transitioned into a new career with NASA first serving as a Quality Engineer where he supported the following NASA projects: EXpedite the PRocessing of Experiments to Space Station (EXPRESS) Logistics Carrier (ELC), Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) and Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite 2 (ICESat-2). In 2015, he began serving as a Chief Safety and Mission Assurance Officer (CSO) and successfully led safety & mission assurance (SMA) teams in support of the Ionospheric Connection (ICON) Explorer Project and the X-ray Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission (XRISM) Resolve Instrument Project. Finally, in 2019, he was selected to serve in the Explorers Program Office as the PUNCH Mission Manager.


As the PUNCH Mission Manager within the Explorers Program Office at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Mr. Dillard will provide government oversight to ensure the technical, programmatic and science success of the mission. He serves as the main point of contact between SwRI/PUNCH Project and the Explorers Program Office and keep NASA Headquarters personnel (NASA HQ Program Executive and NASA HQ Program Scientist) informed regarding PUNCH. He is responsible for ensuring that the PUNCH mission complies with all applicable government and NASA-specific policies and regulations and provide advocacy to remove barriers.

Madhulika Guhathakurta

Madhulika GuhathakurtaNASA Program Scientist

NASA: Science Mission Directorate / Heliophysics Division

Professional Background

For the past two decades, Madhulika (Lika) has led the development of Heliophysics as an integrated scientific discipline from which fundamental discoveries about our universe provide direct societal benefits. As the Lead for the Living With a Star (LWS) program for 16 years (2001-2016), she made possible the flagship missions (e.g. the Solar Dynamics Observatory, Van Allen Probes, Solar Orbiter Collaboration and Parker Solar Probe) including STEREO that would revolutionize our understanding of how the Sun shapes space weather in the solar system.

Since 2017, she was the driving force at NASA Headquarters and at NASA Ames behind the growth of Frontier Development Laboratory, both in terms of the breadth of problem areas tackled as well as in the number of agency and industry partners (e.g. Google, Nvidia, Intel, Lockheed Martin, Planet). The types of innovative solutions include virtual telescopes, data fusion, edge computing, and autonomy and this approach will have an enduring imprint on the way science and exploration is carried out by future generations. She is presently (2020) a Senior Advisor for New Initiatives at Goddard Space Flight Center, and Program Scientist at HQ, HPD.

Dr. Nicholeen Viall-Kepko

Nicholeen Viall-KepkoNASA Project Scientist

NASA: Goddard Space Flight Center
PUNCH Science Co-I: WG 1B (leader), 2C


Ph.D. in Astronomy, Boston University, 2010

M.A. in Astronomy, Boston University, 2007

B.S. in Astronomy and Physics, University of Washington, 2004

Professional Background

Research Astrophysicist, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 2012 - present

NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, 2010 - 2012

Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Astronomy, Boston University, 2005 - 2010


Karen Harvey Prize, for outstanding early- career contributions


Lead analysis and interpretation of PUNCH data on solar wind variability, turbulence, and microstructure; analyze shock images.

Experience Relevant to PUNCH

Dr. Viall-Kepko is an expert in time series analysis, image processing, and connecting remote observations to those made in situ in order to understand Sun-Earth interactions. Beginning with the research for her dissertation, “Periodic Solar Wind Density Structures”, she has examined Sun-Earth connections, analyzing in situ magnetospheric and solar wind data and connecting those observations with solar wind structures observed in white light imaging data taken with inner Heliospheric Imager and Outer Coronagraph on STEREO/SECCHI (abbreviation). This research shows how high resolution white light imaging data can help to pin down the origin of the slow solar wind and predict the ‘quiescent’ space weather impacting the Earth even on quiet days.

Supporting Experience

Dr. Viall-Kepko uses her time series and image processing expertise to investigate the properties of coronal heating with imaging data and hydrodynamic simulations. Her community service is extensive, having served on Eduardo Sanchez- Diaz’s dissertation committee, gave 80 interviews for the 2017 total solar eclipse, was a SHINE student representative and a representative for the Outstanding Student Paper Awards given by the American Geophysical Union.

Selected Publications Relevant to PUNCH

Viall, N.M., & A. Vourlidas, (2015) Periodic Density Structures and the Origin of the Slow Solar Wind, ApJ, 807, 176.

Viall, N.M., Spence, H., Vourlidas, A., & Howard, R., (2010) Examining Periodic Solar-Wind Density Structures Observed in the SECCHI Heliospheric Imagers, Solar Physics, 261, 175.

Viall, N.M., & Klimchuk, J. A., (2012) Evidence for Widespread Cooling in an Active Region Observed with the SDO Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, ApJ, 753, 35.

Viall, N.M., et al., (2009) Are periodic solar wind number density structures formed in the solar corona?, GRL, 36, L23102.