Ambassadors & Board Members

MMAO Astronomy Ambassadors MMAO Astronomy Ambassadors

These Astronomy Ambassadors work to support and expand the capacity of the MMAO observatory:

Elineema Nassari, MMAO Astronomer Ambassador Elineema Nassari, Director at MMAO
Elineema Nassari has been incorporating astronomy education into his middle school curricula for more than a decade. Inspired by his work with Telescopes to Tanzania he worked with Kai Staats and his fellow instructors at the Ailanga school for the installation, calibration, and operation of East Africa’s first research-grade telescope at MMAO in 2019. In 2020 Elineema and his associates were recipients of an OAD grant to serve their community through a locally developed distance-learning program that incorporated both digital and printed curricula during the early stages of the COVID pandemic. In 2023 Elineema was awarded attendance at the African regional SHAW-IAU meeting hosted by the International Astronomers Union, Office of Astronomy for Development, SAAO campus, South Africa.

Mponda Malozo, MMAO Astronomer Ambassador Mponda Malozo, Chairman of the Board
Mponda is a life-long Tanzanian amateur astronomer and passionate educator who sees astronomy as a powerful gateway to science. He worked closely with Chuck and Sue Ruehle from the very start of Telescopes to Tanzania (a former Astronomers Without Borders project) which grew into the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory. Following his introduction to astronomy through the IAU general assembly in 2008, Mponda has worked with astronomy enthusiasts in Tanzania, the East Africa region, Africa, and around the world. He served as the national country coordinator for Universe Awareness (UNAWE) and Astronomers Without Borders.

Kai Staats, MMAO Astronomer Ambassador Kai Staats, Board Member
Kai Staats is a researcher, filmmaker, writer, and amateur astronomer who has since 2016 lead the development of the Mt. Meru Astronomical Observatory. Kai was inspired by and continues to work in the memory of Chuck Ruehle to bring the magic and mystery of dark night skies to learners everywhere. Kai holds a Masters in Applied Mathematics from the University of Capetown, his research in the application of evolutionary computation to noise mitigation in radio astronomy at the Square Kilometre Array, South Africa. Kai worked with the gravitational wave observatory LIGO for three years and is now a director of research at the University of Arizona where he and his team have constructed a sealed and pressurized Mars habitat analog.

Mike Simmons, MMAO Astronomer Ambassador Mike Simmons, Board member
Mike Simmons has been an amateur astronomer and organizer for more than 40 years, primarily participating in informal education. He worked at Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles in the 1970s, was president of the Los Angeles Astronomical Society, co-founded the Mount Wilson Observatory Association to support the observatory’s public outreach, and co-chaired the 100 Hours of Astronomy Cornerstone Project of IYA2009 for the IAU. In 2006, he founded Astronomers Without Borders, a global organizations of astronomy enthusiasts. He is currently an Affiliate Research Scientist at Blue Marble Space Institute of Science where he is creating programs to address issues of diversity and inclusion using astronomy and space, Astronomy for Equity. In addition, Mike is a retired biomedical data analyst experienced in qualitative measurements such as those we will employ to evaluate the program.

Eliatosha Maleko, MMAO Astronomer Ambassador Eliatosha Maleko, Ambassador
Eliatosha is teaching at Ilboru Primary School, covering subjects English, Geography, and Science in Standard Six. Since his work with the late Chuck Ruehle and Sue Ruehle in 2012, he has made astronomy center to his work as a middle school teacher. He has dedicated much of his time to various outreach activities in several public and private schools, and university colleges such as Dodoma and Patandi Teachers collage in Arusha, Tanzania.

Dan Heim, MMAO Astronomer Ambassador Dan Heim, Advisor
Dan Heim is a retired secondary school physics instructor, life-long amateur astronomer, professional editor and producer of educational multimedia and publications for science and mathematics.

Dan was instrumental in refurbishing the principal telescope for MMAO and continues to be involved in the organization, guiding the on-going training of the ambassadors and provision of high quality educational material for visitors to the observatory.