Creon Levit - resumé and vita

Creon Levit
resumé and vita

Areas of expertise


Physics & chemistry

particularly molecular physics, quantum chemistry, non-relativistic quantum mechanics, molecular electronics, molecular nanotechnology, fullerene chemistry, refractory materials, applied physics, computational physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics.

Aerospace Engineering

particularly remote sensing satellites, satellite systems engineering, celestial mechanics, space debris, computational fluid dynamics.

Optics & imaging

particularly visible and NIR telescope design, lens design, microscopy, high power millimeter wave technology, solid state imaging, metamaterials, antennas, radar (including synthetic aperture radar)

Space propulsion

particularly electric propulsion, beamed energy propulsion, propellantless propulsion.

Applied mathematics

particularly differential geometry, topology of vector and scalar fields, nonlinear dynamics, information geometry, numerical analysis, discrete mathematics.

Artificial intelligence

particularly neural networks, information theory, optimization, dimensionality reduction.

Data visualization

particularly large scientific and statistical data visualization, presentation, high performance graphics, virtual reality.

Classic computer science

particularly computer architecture, many major (and minor) programming languages, operating systems, multidimensional data structures, symbolic computation.

Molecular biology and medicine

particularly protein structure, immunology, metabolomics, nuclear medicine, microscopy, medical imaging, nutrition.

Total of ~100 publications and invited lectures in many of the above areas.

Employment history

1980s : NASA Ames Research Center. Electrical/electronics engineer (high performance computing). Founder of NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division.

1990s : NASA Ames Research Center. Research scientist. Computational fluid dynamics. Computational quantum chemistry. Founder of NASA computational molecular nanotechnology group.

1999-2001: Sabbatical from NASA: Director of research for International Space Sciences Organization. Led theory group (~6 FTEs), experimental group (~4 FTEs) and lab (~$4M).

2001-2015: NASA Ames: Sr. Research Scientist. Founder of visual programming environments (data visualization) group. Principal investigator on hyperwall project. Special assistant to Ames Center Director (S. Pete Worden). Chief scientist for programs directorate. Mission design, instrument design, high power mm-wave beamed energy launch, space debris mitigation.

2015-present: Planet Labs: Director of spacecraft R&D. Director of research. Instrument design and systems engineering for high resolution optical imaging and radar imaging satellites. Advanced concepts, manager of the “kook desk” (i.e. “Planet X”).

Consulting history

1990s-2010s: NSF, NASA, and DARPA proposal review and program review committees. Phase 1 and Phase 2.

1990s-present: NIAC (NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts, i.e. “NASA X") proposal evaluation committees. Phase 1, phase 2 and phase 3.

2017: Verily (for Andy Conrad) doing due diligence on nuclear medicine technology.

Activities while employed at NASA Ames
P.I. and principal author: viewpoints - interactive visual exploratory data analysis
P.I. and principal author: topo - interactive visualization of 3D vector field topology
P.I. and principal author: cm3d - massively parallel multi-zone 3D compressible CFD
Group lead: NAS exploratory computing environments / data analysis group
Group lead: massively parallel computing testbed
Co-principal investigator: the hyperwall project
Co-principal investigator: the virtual wind tunnel project.
Co-principal investigator: the virtual mechanosynthesis project
Technical lead: NAS network testbed
Technical lead: NASA Ames massively parallel computing testbed (CM2 & CM5)
Founding member: NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) Division.
Co-founder: NAS Applied Research branch.
Co-founder: NASA Ames Computational Molecular Nanotechnology group.
Engineer: NASA Engineering & Safety Center (NESC).
Engineer: Stardust sample return capsule reentry observation campaign.

Steamship Group - hedged statistical arbitrage
Founder and general partner
Statistical analysis, classification, high-dimensional regression, software architecture, programming

International Space Sciences Organization - advanced space propulsion
Director of research (8 FTEs, 3 contractors) - experiment design, theory group, management
Laboratory director (2 FTEs): electromagnetic design, data acquisition & analysis, noise reduction

Formal education
BS with honors in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics. Washington University, St. Louis.
Graduate studies at Stanford University, Department of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

Honors and awards
2007 - NASA superior performance award for “developing viewpoints & Stardust return capsule trajectory reconstruction”
2005 - NASA group achievement awards for “project columbia team”
2004 - NASA group achievement award for "developing the hyperwall"
2003 - NASA superior performance award for "hyperwall project and discovery systems project planning"
2003 - NASA superior performance award for "leadership of the NAS data analysis group, and excellent research"
2003 - NASA Employee recognition award "rapid development of hyperwall from conception to full prototype & unveiling"
2002 - NASA superior performance award for "the hyperwall project and excellent research and leadership"
2002 - NASA 20 year service award "in grateful recognition and appreciation of faithful service to NASA"
2001 - NASA superior performance award for “original research in support of NASA missions”.
2000 - NASA group achievement award "developing the virtual wind tunnel & pioneering the application of virtual reality"
1998 - NASA Ames spotlight award for “visualization of the chemical bond”.
1997 - Richard. P. Feynman award in molecular nanotechnology.
1997 - NASA Ames spotlight award for "innovative research on the visualization of the chemical bond"
1997 - ARC 15 year service award "in grateful recognition and appreciation of faithful service to NASA"
1994 - ‘the virtual wind tunnel” - 1 of only 3 science works in "the best of 15 years of SIGGRAPH Electronic Theater".
1992 - NASA 10 year service award "in grateful recognition and appreciation of faithful service to NASA"
1991 - SIGGRAPH electronic theater (“academy awards of computer graphics”) presented "the Virtual Wind Tunnel".
1991 - IEEE best paper award at Visualization '91 Conference.
1989 - AIAA engineer of the year for: "demonstrating the feasibility of performing CFD on massively parallel computers
1986 - NASA group achievement award for "Numerical Aerodynamic Simulation (NAS) Project."
1984 - NASA sustained superior performance award: “exceeding the standards set for your position... outstanding work”.
Selected publications

selected older publications:
Reconstruction and verification of the Stardust SRC re-entry trajectory (extended abstract). In press. Proc. 46th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting, Reno, NV, 2008.
The hyperwall, Proceedings of Coordinated & Multiple Views in Exploratory Visualization 2003 (London) IEEE 2003.
A synthesis of fluid dynamics and quantum chemistry in a momentum space investigation of molecular wires and diodes in Computational Polymer Science and Nanotechnology. ed Mark D. Dadmun, Springer pp139-150 2001.
Feature Extraction of Separation and Attachment Lines. IEEE Trans. on Visualization and Computer Graphics, v5 n2,1999
Are the Bader Laplacian and the Bohm Quantum Potential Equivalent? Chemical Physics Letters 281 (1997) 157-60. (followed by four responses and counter-responses published in the same journal, it has been cited frequently).
Aerospace applications of molecular nanotechnology. Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, v51n4, pp145-152 1998
Machine Phase Fullerene Nanotechnology, Nanotechnology, v9, pp.192–199 (1998).
A Parallel, Symplectic Bulirsch-Stoer Integrator for Celestial Mechanics Applications. Int. Symp. on Integration Algorithms for Celestial Mechanics, Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, (1993)
A Multiple-Grid Navier-Stokes Code for the Connection Machine CM-2, Proc. 6th SIAM Conference on Parallel Processing for Scientific Computing (1993)
The topology of Vector Fields: An Annotated Bibliography. Technical Report NASA-TM-112048 NASA Ames Research Center, (1992)
A Tool for Visualizing the Topology of Three Dimensional Vector Fields. proc. IEEE Visualization '91 (1991). Awarded “best paper” at 2nd intl. conf. on visualization. It has been cited over 200 times.
Numerical Simulation of Flow Past a Tapered Cylinder.' AIAA paper AIAA-91-0751, AIAA 29th annual Aerospace Sciences Meeting. (1991)
Parallel Solution of Pentadiagonal Systems using Generalized Odd-Even Elimination. in: Proc. Supercomputing '89, IEEE Computer Society (1989).
Grid Communication on the Connection Machine: Analysis, Performance, and Improvements. in: International Journal of High Speed Computing, v1, n2, pp.367-381, World Scientific (1989)..
Explicit and implicit solution of the Navier-Stokes equations on a massively parallel computer. International Journal of Supercomputer Applications, v3 n4 pp 9-27, MIT Press (1989).
Selected presentations, lectures, and tutorials
Fast exploratory data analysis of large, high dimensional data using viewpoints” - presented at over 20 conferences, workshops, and symposia (2006 - 2007), including several keynote presentations.
“Reconstruction of the Stardust mission sample return capsule reentry trajectory” - presented at the workshop: Reentry Emission Signatures II, SETI institute (2006).
“the hyperwall” - presented at over 20 conferences, workshops, and symposia including by invitation at HASA HQ, NASA GSFC, NASA JPL, NASA Ames, National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), TASC, and the international conference on Supercomputing, (2002-2005).
"Bohm's quantum potential and the visualization of molecular structure" keynote presentation at: Causality and Locality in Modern Physics and Astronomy: A Symposium to Honor Jean-Pierre Vigier (2000)
"A New Pictorial Approach to Molecular Structure and Reactivity." presented at the Symposium On the Occasion of the Sixty-fifth Birthday of Richard F.W. Bader (1999)
“Tutorial on Vector Fields, Topology, and Flows'' Presented at IEEE Visualization 92 conference (1992), and IEEE Visualization 93 (1993)
“Tutorial on Virtual Environment Implementation Techniques” SIGGRAPH 1992,
“Techniques for Computational Fluid Dynamics on the Connection Machine'' at National Center for Supercomputing Applications (University of Illinois, 1991),
“Interactive vs. Automatic Analysis of Large Three Dimensional Flow Fields.'' at Workshop on Pattern Discovery in Very Large Databases. NASA Ames Research Center. 1991.
“Advanced techniques for the Visualization of Three-dimensional Flow Fields''. Dagstuhl Seminar on Scientific Visualization (Germany,1991)
“The Virtual Windtunnel'' presented at: Stanford Industrial Design Forum (Stanford University,1990), NASA Lewis Research Center (1991), First International Conference on Artificial Reality and Tele-Existance (Tokyo1991), National Center for Supercomputing Applications (1991), SRI Conference on Virtual Reality (1991), IMAGE VI conference (1992)
“Computational Fluid Dynamics and Flow Visualization on The CM2'' at Thinking Machines Corporation, (1989)
“Massively Parallel Implicit Flow Solvers'' at 1989 NCSA Workshop on Parallel Computing (1989)
“Some New Interactive Techniques For Computational Flow Visualization'' at Conf. on Scientific Applications of the Connection Machine. NASA Ames Research Center (1988)
software development
Expert programmer in c, c++, openGL, fortran, perl, lisp, clos, scheme, APL, and the R language.
Reasonably fluent in most other major programming languages, including matlab, and parallel languages.
Quite familiar with many major software libraries (STL, LAPACK, BLAS, boost, blitz, GSL, GLSL, FLTK...)
Good Linux/OSX systems programming skills (optimization, automation, interfacing, administration, etc).

Designed and implemented numerous programs for high-dimensional density estimation, high-dimensional entropy estimation, mutual information estimation, dimensionality reduction, recurrent neural networks, reenforcement learning, machine language genetic programming, support vector machines, independent component analysis, clustering, classification, outlier detection, regression, time series prediction, etc. for NASA and as part of the steamship group.
Principal designer and principal author of viewpoints, a cross-platform open-source high-performance exploratory data analysis system for interactive visualization of large, high-dimensional data sets.
Designed and implemented several hyperwall applications including some used in the NASA Columbia accident investigation.
Designed and implemented (with D. Jespersen) cm3d, the first massively parallel multi-zone three-dimensional factored implicit Navier-Stokes solver for the connection machines cm2 and cm5,
Invented and implemented a parallel algorithm to solve pentadiagonal and block-pentadiagonal systems of equations, for use in second-order-accurate factored implicit PDE solvers (e.g. in CFD).
Co-designer and co-implementor (with S. Bryson) the virtual wind tunnel software for immersive visualization of both steady and unsteady three-dimensional flows.
Principal designer and co-implementor (with A. Globus) of the FAST flow topology visualization module. This software and the attendant paper spawned a whole sub-specialty of scientific visualization that now has its own annual conferences.
Wrote 3D unsteady flow visualization software for the cm2 to render streaklines and streaksurfaces colored by a variety of functions. Video shown at several conferences (movie).
Designed and implemented eplane and espace for interactive exploration and automatic topological analysis of two and three dimensional continuous dynamical systems, respectively.
Designed and implemented cplane, the first 3D flow visualization software with a graphical user interface (certainly the first at NASA). It was the forerunner of many programs, including FAST.
Co-designed the panel library (the FAST gui), and the FAST vector field calculator module. FAST won the NASA software of the year award in 1992.
Implemented real-time 2D scalar wave equation code on the cm2 (for fun). Images from this software were included on the thinking machines Best of Visualization video and on Alien Dreamtime by rose-x.
Designed and implemented software for George Coates Performance Works Multi-media theater presentation Invisible Site and The Desert Music.
some older visualizations

virtual wind tunnel video (extended version) • laplacian of water molecule charge density (movie1, movie2)
laplacian of charge density during SN2 reaction (movie) • 3D vortex shedding from tapered cylinder (movie)
charge density topology of bending ethylene (gallery) twisting ethylene (gallery) and diamondoid surface (gallery)
stereoscopic charge density topology of benzyne biradicaloid (gallery) * laplacian iso-surfaces for carbon monoxide
assorted molecular charge density topologies and their laplacians (web page) • momentum space laplacians (slides)
comparison of iso-surfaces of Bohm quantum potential and laplacian of electronic charge density for hydrazine

some other interests and activities
History of science and scientific biography, mathematics education, psychopharmacology, life extension, space settlement, evolution of human culture, music, most other things. 
general science, mathematics, beekeeping, Bikram yoga, perpetuum mobiles
visual music. co-founder of The Raster Masters, a live computer graphics performance ensemble. Performed professionally, by invitation for: Industrial Light and Magic, SIGGRAPH & TED conferences and with Herbie Hancock for one season. Featured on BBC, wired magazine.
video/audio engineering, systems engineering, programming, and web development for Sound Photosynthesis, Mill Valley, California. - a unique audiovisual archive of intellectual culture.
maintenance and restoration of the Norwegian car ferry Maritol (a.k.a. Fagranes, Tufjord)
Intentional communities.

+1-415-722-9843 (mobile)