Jeffrey Van Cleve
Photometer Characterization Scientist,
SO Support Scientist
NASA Ames Research Center
Dr. Jeffrey Van Cleve is an astronomer and support scientist on the Kepler Team. He enjoys learning a little bit about a lot of things and explaining them to others, so he has worked on documentation like the Instrument Handbook and the Data Release Notes for the last year. His area of special expertise on Kepler, as on his previous flight programs, is focal planes -- A Newark, New Jersey native (along with Allen Ginsburg and Queen Latifah), Jeffrey always knew he wanted to be an astronaut. Alas, his poor vision was one obstacle towards this particular dream that could not be over come. Give up on space? Never. He soldiered on in science gathering inspiration from Captain Kirk, Albert Einstein and a supportive father, who helped him work through his algebra homework in the 6th grade. His father made a living as a computer engineer for AT&T in the 60s at a time when the field was brand new and very few peers existed. On the other hand, Jeffrey attributes his quirky sense of humor and interest in politics (which go together) to his mother.
For Jeffrey, the study of math and physics brought about the realization that the foundations of reality were generated by the mind; he found a profound beauty in math, physics and consciousness. He completed his undergraduate work at Princeton University in Physics. During college, he took a year off to work for the Cavendish Lab at Cambridge University studying electrical conductivity in low-temperature metal films. He went on to Cornell University studying physics for both his Master’s and Ph.D., but as a post doc, he switched from physics to astronomy. He stayed on at Cornell as a research associate until the opportunity to work for Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado couldn't be passed up. He worked on several projects, one of which was at the Spitzer Space Telescope, where he focused on infrared spectroscopy.
In his spare time, Jeffrey enjoys hiking and taking advantage of all the wonderful things the Bay Area has to offer. He studies history and is especially drawn to ancient astronomy. He has a deep respect for ancient astronomers and what they were able to deduce without using telescopes or computers. Along these lines, he has recently visited the Mayan pyramids in Mexico, and Tycho Brahe's observatory in the island of Hven in the strait between Denmark and Sweden.