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Science Center names PSU space expert as Buhl Planetarium director

| Thursday, July 3, 2014, 12:09 p.m.
The Carnegie Science Center officials announced Thursday they tapped Brendan Mullan to become director of Buhl Planetarium and Observatory.

Carnegie Science Center selected a prominent young scientist to become director of Buhl Planetarium and Observatory.

The center said on Thursday that Brendan Mullan, a Penn State University graduate, joined the staff and will design educational and outreach programs.

Mullan holds a doctorate from Penn State in astronomy and astrophysics. While at Penn State, he was involved in science camps, planetarium shows and astrobiology programs for all ages. He helped to develop a video-game style online course, the center said.

Mullan worked as a researcher and educator at Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, a Seattle-based nonprofit research institute.

He won the 2012 NASA FameLab competition, a science communication program, and in 2013 was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, a program that recognizes young scientists, explorers, writers and photographers by giving research grants.

Through the program, he traveled the nation speaking in schools.

“I want to inspire the next generation of scientific thinkers,” Mullan said in a statement. “I hope to engage students with that spark of excitement inherent to the planetarium experience — not just encouraging those who want to be astronomers, but everyone who will use science thinking to build the foundations of the 21st Century.”

In his online biography for National Geographic, Mullan described astronomy as “the gateway drug of the sciences.”

The Buffalo, N.Y., native will oversee day-to-day operations at the planetarium and observatory while developing programming, science center officials said.

The Buhl Planetarium was founded in 1939 and evolved into the North Shore science center in 1991. Carnegie Science Center will mark the planetarium's 75th anniversary this fall.

Corinne Kennedy is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7823 or ckennedy@tribweb.com.

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