- Physics, astrophysics, space science, remote sensing, and related laboratory experiments.
- Modeling, programming, data analysis, and the design/construction/testing of instruments.
- Master of Science in Space and Planetary Physics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, August 2004.
- Bachelor of Science in Physics, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, August 2001.
- Advanced Accelerator Applications University Fellowship
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's High Energy Density Physics Summer School, Santa Cruz, CA, August 2002
- Sigma Xi Grant-in-aid
- Several NASA Grants that provided lab funding at West Virginia University
- Academic Enrichment Award
- Sallie Lowther Norris Showalter Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Related Disciplines
- Nominated for the National USA Today Award, September 1999
Research and Work Experience
ASRC Space and Defense at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility (NSOF), January 2015 – present;
Flight Software (FSW) Engineer
- Pre-launch testing of GOES-R subsystems as it relates to validation of FSW, Command and Telemetry databases, and Spacecraft Fault Management.
- On-console support for launch, orbit rising, and special operations activities.
- Generation of procedures to be run against spacecraft simulators.
- Development of Command Procedures, Telemetry Display Pages and Real-time plots.
- Development and maintenance of test and on-orbit scripts.
- Spacecraft Telemetry and Command Database Validation.
ASRC Space and Defense at the NOAA Satellite Operations Facility (NSOF), March 2012 – December 2014;
Lead Flight Operations Simulation Engineer
- NASA NPP Flight Vehicle Simulator (FVS) evaluation and maintenance: Ensure operations readiness by supporting nominal FVS functionality; recommend and install updates; maintain and communicate FVS discrepancy lists; ground link simulator support.
- Provide support to the Mission Operations team in the validation of products to be uploaded to the spacecraft.
- Support regression testing to verify that any installation, maintenance, or upgrade does not impact previously verified functions and performance.
- Develop simulator operations documentation and training packages to ensure that the flight operations team is fully trained on all simulator start-up and operations activities.
- Mission operations readiness support: Develop simulator nominal setup scenarios; define realistic spacecraft anomalies that can be injected into the simulator; support mission rehearsal preparation and execution.
- Act as the liaison with spacecraft vendors to coordinate delivery and maintenance of simulator deliverables.
- For the NASA JPSS Flight Vehicle Test Suite, provide FVS lessons learned and support systems engineering activities in the definition of new system requirements and architecture.
SGT, Inc at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, September 2010 – February 2012:
- Maintain and develop FORTRAN code for the GEODYN II program, used extensively for satellite orbit determination, geodetic parameter estimation, tracking instrument calibration, satellite orbit prediction, as well as for many other items relating to applied research in satellite geodesy using virtually all types of satellite tracking data.
SGT, Inc at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, November 2009 – August 2010:
- Support the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) in testing and characterization of mobile nuclear detection systems, or Stand Off Radiation Detection System (SORDS), developed for Homeland Security.
- Oversee real-time data taken at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) to determine validity of the test run and to track and report issues within the systems.
- Analyze test data from each vendor in order to characterize detector components, digital signal processor, and data analysis software.
Science Systems and Applications, Inc at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, April 2008 – June 2009:
Programmer Analyst II
- Support testing of satellite instruments, in particular, the Visible Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) for the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS).
- Software development: convert designs and technical specifications into computer code.
- Create test transactions and run tests to identify errors and improve programs.
- Independently analyze, verify, and validate test data results.
- Address and track software reliability and hazards in addition to specification issues.
- Write technical reports summarizing analysis results.
- Present findings and methods for analysis at peer reviews.
- Track and maintain documentation to describe program development, logic, coding, testing, changes, and corrections in order to minimize risks and adhere to NASA standards and policies.
ITT - Space Systems Division, July 2006 – April 2008:
Modeling and Simulation Engineer I
- Support development and testing of meteorological satellite instruments, in particular, the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) instrument for NPOESS.
- Modeling and simulation support for the Systems Engineering Department, including data analysis, test procedure development, and troubleshooting for requirements that do not meet specification.
- Prepare and deliver presentations for customer meetings.
- Radiometric test expert during bench and thermal vac testing: Control testing process to ensure instrument safety. Analyze test data in order to verify technical requirements are met and to support software verification and validation.
- Software support for the Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI) for GOES-R: Software development in addition to supporting software reliability and process improvement.
Hines Industries, February 2005 - June 2006:
Programmer / Engineer
- Designed and developed software for custom balancing machines.
CharityUSA, November 2004 - January 2005:
Customer Service Representative
- Helped a charity organization during their holiday rush.
University of Michigan Radiation Laboratory, August 2004 - December 2004:
- Measured radio-frequency levels from automotive components for certification approval.
University of Michigan Space Physics Research Laboratory, January 2002 - August 2004:
Researcher for Advisor R. Paul Drake
- Modeled radiative shocks that simulate astrophysical systems or dynamic hohlraums.
- Collaborated with scientists using the Z Machine at Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM
- Assisted in experiments on the Omega laser at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics, Rochester, NY.
West Virginia University Plasma Physics Lab, May 1999 - June 2001:
Research Assistant for Advisor Earl Scime
- Performed general lab work, assisted in various experiments, and ran ion optics simulations.
- Built a small helicon source, as well as an encasement for a Hall Probe.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) Green Bank, WV, Summer 2000:
Research Assistant for Advisor Ron Maddalena
- Analyzed data in an attempt to show that high-velocity gas in nearby disk galaxies fits more closely to a double Gaussian profile than a single one.
Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) through the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), La Serena, Chile, January 2000 - April 2000:
Research Assistant for Advisor Eric Rubenstein from Yale University Department of Astronomy
- Searched for dwarf novae in globular cluster 47Tuc, which included data analysis and observations on the 0.9-meter, 1.5-meter, and Curtis/Schmidt telescopes.
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), Summer 1999:
- Worked with Advisors Fred Schlachter from LBNL and Oliver Hemmers from the Department of Chemistry at University of Nevada, Las Vegas at the Advanced Light Source ultraviolet and soft x-ray synchrotron source, studying x-ray atomic & molecular spectroscopy.
- Acquired and analyzed data, built experimental equipment including rebuilding a vacuum pump, and performed ion optics simulations.
NRAO, Green Bank, WV, October 1999:
- Performed a sky survey using the forty-foot educational telescope.
University of Michigan Nuclear Engineering Department, September 2001 - December 2001:
Research Assistant for Advisor Ron Gilgenbach
- Ablation plasma ion implantation through pulsed excimer laser deposition.
R.P. Drake, D.R. Leibrandt, E.C. Harding, C.C. Kuranz, M.A. Blackburn H.F. Robey, B.A. Remington, M.J. Edwards, A.R. Miles, T.S. Perry, R.J. Wallace, H. Louis, J.P. Knauer, D. Arnett, "Nonlinear mixing behavior of the three-dimensional Rayleigh-Taylor instability at a decelerating interface", Phys. Plasmas, 11, May (2004).
O. Hemmers, M. Blackburn, T. Goddard, P.Glans, H. Wang, S. B. Whitfield, R. Wehlitz, I. A. Sellin, D. Lindle. "Dipole and Nondipole Angular Distribution Effects in Valence Photoemission from Neon". Journal of Electron Spectroscopy (2002).
Earl E. Scime, Paul A. Keiter, S. Peter Gary, Matthew M. Balkey, Robert F. Boivin, John L. Kline, and Melanie Blackburn, "Ion Temperature Anisotropy Limitation in High Beta Plasmas", Phys. Plasmas, 7, 2157 (2000).
McKinnon, Mark M., Stinebring, Daniel R., Blackburn, Melanie A., "The Mode-separated Pulse Profiles of Pulsar Radio Emission", ApJ, 529 Issue 1, 435 (2000).
O. Hemmers, P. Glans, H. Wang, S.B. Whitfield, D.W. Lindle, M. Blackburn, T. Goddard, R. Wehlitz, I.A. Sellin, A. Derevianko, W.R. Johnson. "Comprehensive Photoelectron Angular Distributions Study up to O(K)^2 of the Valence Shells in Neon", Phys. Rev. A (submitted).
Undergraduate Senior Thesis, "Search for Dwarf Novae in Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae".
Coauthor on numerous presentations from the Drake Group (2002-2005).
Blackburn, M., Drake R. P., Mehlhorn, T., "Properties of Radiative Shock Waves in a Low Density Foam". American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics (APSDPP) meeting 45, October 2003.
Blackburn, M., Rubenstein, E. "A Search for Dwarf Novae in Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae". American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting 197, January 2001. Oral presentation on the topic, La Serena , Chile , March 2000.
Melanie Blackburn, Ron Maddalena. "High Velocity Gas in Nearby Disk Galaxies". Student poster session, West Virginia University, March 2001. Oral presentation, Green Bank, WV, August 2000.
Melanie Blackburn, Oliver Hemmers. "Exams in Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy". Student poster session, Berkeley National Lab, August 4, 1999.
- Secretary and Social Coordinator, NASA Goddard Zymurnauts
- Vice President, Society of Physics Students
- Organized student functions for the physics department
- Member, Phi Theta Kappa, Sigma Pi Sigma, Sigma Gamma Tau
- Member, American Astrophysical Society, American Physical Society
- Volunteer, USGS-funded project on the building and maintenance of a cleanup facility treating acid-mine drainage on Ice Pond Run at Friendship Hill National Historic Site, Point Marion , PA.
- Volunteer, WVDOH project testing overall watershed quality as well as the impact of highway construction on groundwater.
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