Rodrigo Romo, Program Director
Rodrigo supervises day-to-day operations for personnel, finance, budgeting and ongoing projects in planetary robotics and in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology. He has 24 years of experience in project management for multidisciplinary projects involving biological/technical systems, power plant operation, research and development and space exploration focusing on robotics and ISRU.
Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Rodrigo earned his undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from ITESO University in 1992. He later obtained his Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Arizona and began his career as a crew member of Biosphere II—the largest fully enclosed facility dedicated to researching climate change, ecosystem interactions and space colonization during its time. Rodrigo has served as program director since being appointed by the Board of Directors in 2016.
Polly Roth, Administrator
Polly serves the primary role in accounting, human resources, finance and correspondence with the Hawaii State Dept. of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT), and with the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii (RCUH).
Polly specializes in nonprofit administration and accounting and has worked in the Astronomy industry in Hawaii for more than 20 years. She previously held positions at Mauna Kea Observatory Support Services and W.M. Keck Observatory, as well as Controller and Associate Director of Administration at Gemini Observatories for both Chile and Hawaii. Her integrity and personal dedication to her workplaces have earned her several Employee of the Year awards throughout her career.
Polly received her Bachelor’s from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Nutritional Science and the equivalent of a Bachelor’s in Accounting from the University of Minnesota.
Christian Andersen, Operations Manager
Christian leads applied research projects related to additive manufacturing and analog testing, including securing grant funding and overseeing college interns.
He successfully managed and executed the local planning, logistics and deployment of both NASA and CSA (Canadian Space Agency) analog field tests in 2008, 2010 and 2012. He received three NASA Group Achievement Awards for his instrumental role in these tests and participation in the RESOLVE (Regolith and Environment Science and Oxygen and Lunar Volatiles Extraction) team. Among these successfully tested payloads, CheMin is now on Mars aboard NASA’s Curiosity rover.
Christian earned a B.S. in Physics from San Jose State University and a M.S. in Engineering from U.C. Davis. He started his career conducting research in inertial confinement fusion at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Ecole Polytechnique and Rutherford Appleton Laboratories.
Kyla Edison, Geology & Materials Science Technician
Kyla leads basalt research in in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), investigating various methods for creating novel construction materials using volcanic basalt. Originally from Kauai, Kyla is a Hawaii Space Grant recipient with a background in planetary geology. In 2016, she assisted a team of international scientists for NASA’s BASALT (Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains) Mars research project on Hawaii Island to help develop protocols for a human mission to the Red Planet.
Kyla earned a Bachelor’s in Geology from University of Hawaii at Hilo and interned with PISCES for three terms before joining the staff. She previously worked with PISCES on projects in basalt sintering and has played key roles in supporting the annual Women’s STARS Program, as well as various education and outreach events.
Chris Yoakum, Public Information & Outreach Officer
Chris creates and manages media for public communications including newsletters, press releases, photography and video. He also manages the agency’s website and social media accounts, marketing collateral and graphic design. In 2017, his role expanded to include outreach, coordinating events like the Women’s STARS program and securing funding through grants and sponsorships.
Born and raised in Hawaii, Chris earned a Bachelor’s in Communications and minor in History at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. He came to PISCES after graduating through a University of Hawaii faculty recommendation and has worked with the state-funded agency since 2014, expanding public awareness of aerospace research and development in Hawaii while organizing STEM activities in the community. In 2018, he was recognized as an RCUH Employee of the Year nominee.
99 Aupuni St. Ste 212-213
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
+1 (808) 935-8270
+1 (808) 896-6550
+1 (808) 494-5553
+1 (808) 935-8270
+1 (808) 935-6867
Public Information Officer
+1 (808) 935-8270