To ignite curiosity through space science education, outreach programs, and by developing pathways to STEM for community members.
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 is an Executive Board Member, Co-founder, and digital design specialist for STARS. Marija comes from Belgrade, Serbia. She received a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Communications from Columbia in 2005. In 2019, she co-founded and relaunched STARS with Victor De Los Santos. Marija applies her unique skills in STEM, designing content that communicates scientific concepts clearly and effectively, with accessibility and inclusion as primary drivers of her work.
Debbie serves as Board Secretary for STARS. She is a Master Gardener and has served for and participated in many local nonprofits in the Brownsville area.
Moises serves as Board Treasurer for STARS. He is a managing partner at Gomez, Fragoso & Associates, Certified Public Accountants (CPA) in Brownsville.
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.
Nurith serves as District 1 City Commissioner for the City of Brownsville.
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.
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.
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. Katy received her JD from the University of Houston Law Center and BA from Evergreen State College.
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.
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.
“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