About STARS

Our Mission

To ignite curiosity through space science education, outreach programs, and by developing pathways to STEM for community members.

Our Vision

STARS aims to cultivate the natural human desire for exploration and discovery by fostering connections to space and science across the Rio Grande Valley.

Board of Directors

VICTOR DE LOS SANTOS

Victor serves as Executive Director and Co-founder of STARS. He is a NASA Solar System Ambassador and advocate of space exploration, STEM education, and the cosmic perspective. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Science in Business and works as an Agile Software Development Coordinator.

MARIJA JETTE

Marija is a Board Member, Co-founder, and digital design specialist for STARS. Originally from Belgrade, Serbia, she received a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Communications from Columbia. In 2019, Marija relaunched STARS with Victor. At STARS, she applies her unique skills to STEM education and outreach with accessibility and inclusion as primary drivers of her work.

DEBBIE COX

Debbie Cox, a Cameron County Master Gardener Herb Specialist and member of the Herb Society of America, is a life-long learner and nature/garden enthusiast.  Debbie is active in the community and serves on the board of STARS, the South Texas Astronomical Society, a group of young people whose mission is to ignite curiosity through space science education and outreach through stargazing activities and promoting the Dark Skies Initiative.

MOISES GOMEZ

Moises serves as Board Treasurer for STARS. He is a managing partner at Gomez, Fragoso & Associates, Certified Public Accountants (CPA) in Brownsville. An avid Trekkie, Moises has 50 years of accounting and tax experience. He also enjoys traveling and being involved in his community. Moises serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations.

RICHARD CAMUCCIO

Richard serves as Chief Scientist for STARS. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and a graduate researcher for the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy and Transient Optical Robotic Observatory of the South (TOROS) Collaboration. Richard earned a Master of Science in Physics from UTRGV in 2020 and a Bachelor of Arts in Astrophysics from Franklin & Marshall College in 2016.

BRINA MARTINEZ

Brina Martinez is an aerospace engineering student at Texas A&M University. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Her research has primarily focused on areas related to gravitational physics through programming and experimental physics/engineering.

Advisory Board

CAROL LEE LUTSINGER

Carol Lutsinger is the founder of STARS. She spent 40 years as a teacher, serving students from Pre-K through college. Carol attributes her astronomy enthusiasm in part to her experience in the American Astronomical Society’s AASTRA program from 1994-96 and her space excitement from serving as a Solar System Educator, and later Ambassador, for the NASA/JPL program.

DR. MARIO DIAZ

Mario Díaz is Director of the Center for Gravitational Wave Astronomy and a Professor of Physics at UTRGV. He is Director of Cristina Torres Memorial Observatory, principal investigator of the Transient Robotic Observatory of the South Collaboration, and a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. He received a PhD in general relativity and gravitation from University of Cordoba, Argentina.

TIMOTHY BARRY

Tim (a.k.a. Obi Wan) is a retired architect and long-time member of the International Planetarium Society. He has assisted with the design and construction of many science centers and planetaria.

KATHRYN YOUKER

Katy Youker joined the Lawyers’ Committee as the Director for the Economic Justice Project in August 2021. Before coming to the Lawyers’ Committee, Katy spent close to two decades at Texas Rio Grande Legal Aid (TRLA) in Brownsville. She has served on the State Bar of Texas Labor and Employment Section executive council, local government committees, and nonprofit boards.

Community Partners

“It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.

To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994