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Our Team

We are a group of passionate data scientists, developers, and entrepreneurs solving some of the world's biggest challenges with satellite imagery, high-performance computing, and machine learning.

Darin Acosta

Senior Front End Software Engineer

I’ve been experimenting with geospatial technology for much of my life, designing web maps and JavaScript applications for data analysis, storytelling, and advocacy. I received my Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans, where I used GIS data to analyze the impacts of oil and gas infrastructure on land use patterns along the Mississippi River. I try to balance my screen time by getting lost in swamps, marshes and mountains as often as I can.

Education: B.S. Urban Studies & Planning, University of New Orleans; Master of Urban & Regional Planning, University of New Orleans

Prior Employers: City of New Orleans, Boundless Spatial

Daniel Bailey

Co-Founder & CTO

I bring experience gained from a wide range of disciplines, with a consistent focus on developing and applying technology and advanced analytics to solve complex real-world business problems. Prior to Astraea, I was the Director of Commercial Analytics at Elder Research where I provided analytics solutions and strategy for clients across numerous industries such as insurance, oil and gas, and healthcare. A decorated war veteran, I served as an officer with specialization in Signal Intelligence. I have degrees in Applied Mathematics and Advanced Analytics from NCSU.

Education: B.S. Applied Mathematics, NCSU; M.S. Advanced Analytics, NSCU

Prior Employers: U.S. Army, DBRI, Elder Research

Jason Brown

Senior Data Scientist

In my formal education, I sought out how to enable continuous improvement. In the practical pursuit of this goal, I found that wrangling data and programming were invaluable to opening up new possibilities. So, I turned into a statistics and mathematical modeling practitioner who likes to code, also known as a data scientist. I enjoy working with cross-discipline teams and have been influenced by geographers, computer scientists, and many others. When not working I’m busy raising two daughters with my lovely wife, running, and cycling.

Education: B.S. Industrial & Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech; M.S. Operations Research, George Washington University

Prior Employers: CCRi, Group W, CENTRA Technology, Northrop Grumman

Jamie Conklin

VP of Product

I am passionate about building tools to extract information from data. I’ve spent most of my career developing systems to leverage geospatial data to generate insights for decision makers. Working at Astraea allows me to take that vision to the next level by democratizing access to remote sensing data and making analysis of these data a reality for all. I love working with users to ensure our product helps solve important problems like climate change, poverty, and natural disaster recovery as well as addressing emerging commercial challenges.

Education: M.S. Systems and Information Engineering, University of Virginia; B.S. Systems and Information Engineering, University of Virginia

Prior Employers: CCRi

Eric Culbertson

Data Scientist

I am a recently graduated Wahoo who is interested in the application of data science to learn about the world around us. As a UVA student, I worked at some of the largest physics labs in the world finding elusive patterns with petabytes of chaotic and irregular data. Exploring and analyzing the data produced by the Large Hadron Collider at CERN gave me many useful skills that I now employ as a data scientist. Astraea was a great fit for me because I have the freedom to explore whatever cool and exotic deep learning tools are out there and apply them to real-world problems.

Education: B.S. Physics and B.A. Cognitive Science, University of Virginia

Matthew Eldridge

Co-Founder & VP of Compute and Infrastructure

I am a software developer and computer science researcher with over 25 years of experience designing, implementing, and deploying a wide variety of software system in technical areas that include highly scalable distributed cloud computing, large-scale data analytics, optimal planning and control, computer network operations (CNO), agent-based computation, computational modeling of social systems, large-scale physics-based simulation, and signal processing. I am a fan of design patterns, functional programming, and agile development processes.  Additionally, I possess an educational foundation in mathematics and physics that, combined with my practical experience building software systems, brings a unique ability to bridge the gap between research and development.

Education: B.S. Physics and B.S. Mathematics, Virginia Tech; M.S. Applied Physics, Johns Hopkins University

Prior Employers: CCRi, Fulcrum IT, BAE Systems, Alphatech, Orbital ATK

Simeon Fitch

Co-Founder & VP of Research and Development

I have over 25 years’ experience as a software engineer and consultant, collaborating with scientists and engineers with innovative technologies in the laboratory to the commercial marketplace. These collaborations have resulted in dozens of conference and journal papers, two R&D awards, and a patent. My current interest is in the application of functional programming principles to the processes of data science, big data and distributed computing.

Education: B.S. Computer Science, University of Virginia

Prior Employers: Decision-Science Applications, Inc., Southwest Research Institute, Rare Medium, Inc., Mustard Seed Software, LLC (the first company I founded), Elder Research, Inc. (acquired MSS)

Ben Guseman

Director of Software Engineering

Once upon a time, I was a failed-EE-turned-English major. After working for 5 years as an editor for legal publications, I returned to school for Computer Science and eventually found myself writing code for scientific and research software. It turns out that software geeks with big picture awareness and communication skills have a place in the world, and my career path eventually led me to data science consulting and software support. For me, joining the amazing team at Astraea to work with cutting-edge technologies on global-scale science was a no-brainer. As a bonus, the application of earth imagery data is easier to explain to my 3 children.

Education: B.A. English Literature, University of Virginia; B.S. Computer Science, University of Virginia

Prior Employers: Elder Research, Inc., Mustard Seed Software, LexisNexis

LaTonya Harlow

Office Manager

I have strong beliefs in working hard and staying busy! I am enrolled at Piedmont Community College pursuing a double major in Accounting and Business. I pray that I am always able to learn something new every day. My family keeps me inspired to be better today than I was yesterday. Responsibility, accountability, integrity, and community involvement are top priorities for me. Here at Astraea, my contribution to this amazing team is to keep the office operating smoothly and ensure our work environment has all the comforts of home. My Astraea work family makes each day exciting. I am blessed to be a part of this team that aspires to help others and are doing their part to See the Earth as it could be!

Education: B.A. Accounting and Business, Piedmont Virginia Community College (in process)

Prior Employers: Nelson County Public Schools, Data Solutions, Clear Communications, AppleMarket, Blue Ridge Builders Supply

Billy Hunt

Software Engineer, UI/UX

I have had an interesting career that spans the intersections of technology, science, and art. After graduating with a Computer Science Degree 1995, I started work at America Online at the dawn of the internet age. After 4 years of madness, I decided to take a break and travel the world. In my travels, I fell in love with photography. For 15 years I was an award-winning photographer and filmmaker. Highlights include inventing the Screamotron 3000, a machine that takes a picture when you scream (featured on NPR, Wired, and The Today Show) and “CLAW: The Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers”, an award-winning documentary about, you guessed it, women who arm wrestle.

Because photography is now a terrible career choice, I transitioned back to software in 2013, first as an iOS developer, then later as a full stack web developer. These days, I am a front-end developer at Astraea. My years in the arts focusing on aesthetics, and love of science, technology, and imagery help me greatly and makes Astraea a good fit for me.

Education: B.S. Computer Science, James Madison University

Prior Employers: Center for Open Science, Silverchair, Billy Hunt Photography, Powhatan Studios

Kimberly Mathieu

Front End Software Engineer

I have over a dozen years of experience within many areas of the software development lifecycle — I first got my start in QA, then I progressed as a Business Analyst, and then to Product Owner (and even had a stint as a Scrum Master). But deep down inside I was always jealous of my engineer colleagues whom I felt got to have the “real” fun. So I took it upon myself to study and practice coding during nights and weekends until I finally crossed over into the dark side (or the light side, depending on whom you ask) and became a full-fledged software engineer. I was also a former stay-at-home mom whom competed in, and won first place in two hackathons (one on each coast)— arguing the case that domestic engineers make the best engineers!

I recently moved to the area from San Diego, but I grew up as a military brat (born, raised, and traveled) which meant my childhood was spent moving from state to state to country to country. Therefore, geography and learning about the earth naturally became an interest of mine. And so the opportunity to work at Astraea where I can look at satellite imagery and code all day is a dream come true

Education: B.B.A. Computer Information Systems, James Madison University

Prior Employers: Transcend Insights

Brendan Richardson

Co-Founder & CEO

My career started a long time ago in consulting, which didn’t last long.  I moved to San Francisco, fell in love with the beauty and the energy of the place and eventually landed an analyst position at a venture capital firm. The next twelve years were a front row seat to the chaos and marvel of start-ups in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.  I now consider myself a recovering VC, doing the real work of starting and growing companies as an entrepreneur.  Astraea is one of those ideas right in the sweet spot.  A big idea, hard problem, nearly unlimited potential – all of which can be unlocked by the creative application of converging technologies - and the real kicker, an opportunity to contribute to the improvement of the planet on a global scale.

Education: B.S. Finance, University of Virginia

Prior Employers: SPA Consulting, Wells Fargo, Project RAFT, Dominion Ventures, Vision Capital, Investure, PsiKick

Tom Schroeder

Director of Cloud Computing

I have over 12 years’ experience as a software engineer and have been involved in all aspects of the software development lifecycle. A large portion of my career has been focused on designing systems that bridge the gap between an unprecedented growth of global data and an increasingly impatient user base. Whether performing as a full stack developer, system designer, or team lead, I have been lucky enough to make a career out of solving complex and interesting problems with a myriad of exceptionally talented individuals. Nowhere has this been more true than in my current position at Astraea. Here, I get to work with an amazing team, focused on leveraging cloud compute infrastructures, machine-learning and AI to effectively process massive volumes of Earth-observing satellite imagery. In so doing, we are building systems that enable problem solving on a planetary scale.

Education: B.S. Biology, University of Mary Washington

Prior Employers: Blackhawk Enterprise, Secure Database Solutions, CACI

Dr. Kimberly Scott

Co-founder and VP of Data Science

I have the pleasure of leading Astraea’s team of data scientists, engaging with clients and partners to identify business opportunities, and helping to develop the strategic roadmap for our services and products. I have 16 years of experience in creative problem solving by leveraging data, machine learning, and best practices in scientific methodology. Prior to Astraea, I worked as a data scientist at the UVA Medical Center and at Elder Research, where I developed novel data science solutions to problems across several different industries. In the not-so-distant past, I was an astrophysicist, where I used multi-spectral data to study how galaxies in the Universe have evolved over the past 13 billion years. Now, my work brings me more down to Earth and in the present – and the problems are just as fascinating.

Education: B.S. Physics and Mathematics, University of Evansville; Ph.D. Astronomy, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Prior Employers: University of Virginia Medical Center, Elder Research, National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Shannon Tevendale

Marketing & Communications Manager

I have spent the majority of my career in the non-profit sector, organizing events and implementing marketing and fundraising campaigns.  I joined Astraea in 2017 and have enjoyed creating logistical processes to help the company run smoothly as well as sharing our story and technology through marketing and business channels.  It’s important to me to always be passionate about what I’m working on and to continue to grow professionally by surrounding myself with enthusiastic, intelligent people.  At Astraea, there is no shortage of both.

Education: B.A. History and B.A. Photography, George Mason University

Prior Employers: MS Society, Blue Ridge Chapter; Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports; Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia

Phil Varner

Senior Software Engineer

I enjoy working on complex distributed systems applied to hard and meaningful problems. In previous jobs, I’ve worked on a business analyst-facing rules engine, a web-based system to allow teams to better collaborate, and an in-home health monitoring application for recently discharged patients.  My academic background was influenced heavily by avionics software, and I try to bring the criticality and requisite dependability of such software to my own work.

Education: B.S. Computer Science, University of Virginia; M.S. Computer Science, University of Virginia

Prior Employers: Oracle, Jive Software, Locus Health

Courtney Whalen

Senior Data Scientist

I started my career as a software engineer and was quickly exposed to my first data science project, leveraging both my programming and analytical skills. I was hooked! I’ve been working as a data scientist for almost 5 years now in various industries. The opportunity to work on planetary problems using remote sensing data at Astraea has been challenging and invigorating.

Education: B.A. Computer Science and B.A. Mathematics, Elon University; M.S. Analytics, Georgia Institute of Technology

Prior Employers: GEICO, Credit Suisse

Dave Yoken

Director of Business Development

I joined Astraea from a leading management consulting firm, where I shaped and implemented supply chain strategy for clients in the technology, consumer goods, and industrial products industries. I also co-founded a digital transformation consulting practice, counseling manufacturers to drive efficiency through predictive analytics, the Internet of Things, and other innovations. This work honed my interests in applying emerging technology, analyzing large datasets to solve complex business problems, and forging mutually beneficial partnerships. At Astraea, I get to pursue these interests in a fascinating new space, surrounded by astoundingly intelligent colleagues that are driven by a mission that matters. I’m proud to work in support of the company’s vision and enjoy watching Astraea grow.

Education: B.A. Economics and B.A. Philosophy, Georgetown University; M.B.A. Business Analytics, University of Virginia

Prior Employers: Accenture Strategy, Bank of America Merrill Lynch