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Meet Star Trek: The Cruise’s Science Squad

As Captain Jean-Luc Picard told Zakdorn Master Strategist Sirna Kolrami, Starfleet’s purpose is exploration. And to properly explore you need experts who understand the complex physics of space, you need biologists who can observe the sought-after “new life and new civilizations,” and you need innovators in robotics to aid we flawed human beings as we aspire to interstellar greatness.

In short, you need the Science Squad sailing on Star Trek: The Cruise V: Dr. Erin Macdonald, Dr. Mohamed Noor and Dr. Stephen Granade.

This elite task force is comprised of two cruise veterans and a newcomer whose areas of expertise span multiple scientific disciplines. Yet all share an ability to express their knowledge in a fun and thoughtful manner that uses the language of Star Trek. Their interactive panels, demonstrations, and meet-ups will once again be a cruise highlight, part of this unpredictable and unconventional experience.

Making her third voyage is cruise favorite Dr. Erin Macdonald. Her field of expertise is gravitational astrophysics, which she studied at the University of Glasgow. (All good engineers have a Scottish connection, after all.) She worked at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (which sounds very Star Trek) investigating the relatively young neutron star Crab Pulsar (which sounds very Captain Proton). She later worked as an educator at the Denver Museum for Nature and Science, which led to a career combining science fiction and pop culture to explain complex scientific concepts to a mainstream audience. She is now a highly sought-after consultant in Hollywood, and is a credited technical advisor for the current Star Trek series.

Making his second appearance on Star Trek: The Cruise is Dr. Mohamed Noor, whose slideshows of creatures from that strange planet known as Sol 3 was such a winner on the last cruise. You will learn things about fruit flies you didn’t know were possible. He is a biology professor and the Dean of Natural Sciences at Duke University, with a specific focus on genetics and evolution. He is the winner of multiple prizes in his field, like the Darwin-Wallace Medal from the Linnean Society of London, the Alumni Distinguished Undergraduate Teaching Award from Duke, and the Stephen Jay Gould Prize from the Society for the Study of Evolution. There will undoubtedly be copies of his terrific book, “Live Long and Evolve: What Star Trek Can Teach Us About Evolution, Genetics, and Life on Other Worlds,” for sale on the ship. Like Erin, he is also a credited technical advisor for current Star Trek.

Our newcomer is Dr. Stephen Granade, who boasts that he once set himself on fire with a laser while getting his doctorate at Duke University. He is a science writer and fiction writer, and has hosted a YouTube series for NASA from Huntsville, Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center. His specialty is robotics and machine learning, and he’s worked on teams that have built equipment currently found on the Hubble Space Telescope and elsewhere in orbit. His most recent work deals with robotic sensors, like a fingerprint reader that can work from ten feet away.

Reader Interactions


  1. Marcy says

    So excited that Dr Erin Mac and Dr Noor are coming back, yay! They are wonderful, they go out of their way to be approachable, and have taught us so much. Looking forward to meeting Dr Granade too

  2. Pearl Marie Savage says

    My son and I would love to have an opportunity to participate in whatever is available with these Drs. I had the opportunity to spend 3 days at NASA (Houston) with my class and about 15-20 other college groups competing to build a prototype rover for Mars and it was wonderful.

  3. Marion Ceruzzi says

    Such wonderful and enthusiastic scientists are Erin and Mohamed. They are always willing to answer questions. Also looking forward to meeting the newest member Stephen.

  4. John Hauwiller says

    Thank you for adding these wonderful people and scientists to the crew for 2022. Their enthusiasm, good nature, and ability to relate science to the Star Trek universe make their presentations a prime item on our daily cruise schedules.

  5. Paul Edwards says

    One of my favorite things that happened on Cruise #4 was at one of Dr. MacDonald’s talks. She was explaining something and stepped back from the white board she was using. She looked at the board for a moment, then looked at the audience and said, “Well! I guess we scienced the **** out of that, didn’t we?”

    Really looking forward to attending more talks on Cruise #5.

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