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 nahks.com — Biography

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Nahks Tr'Ehnl


I'm a bit of both artist and scientist. My artistic background includes drawing and painting as well as some digital 3-D modeling and animation, and my science interests center on astrobiology. As an undergraduate I double-majored in art and astronomy & astrophysics at Penn State. More recently, I completed several graduate-level courses and worked as a research and teaching assistant in the School of Earth and Space Exploration ("SESE") at Arizona State University (ASU), where I studied astrobiology — specifically, the astrophysical origins of chemical elements and their importance in the formation of habitable planetary systems (having the right mix of chemical elements for life as we know it). Since then I have returned to the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at Penn State, where I am a digital artist in a group developing online courses and games for astronomy education (I also teach some astronomy lab courses, including some which involve night-sky observations and planetarium presentations).

My wife and I originally met at Penn State, where she did her undergraduate work in horticulture. After finishing our undergraduate programs we spent a few years in Raleigh, NC, where she got her Master's in plant pathology at North Carolina State University. She was a research technician at ASU while I was a student there, also in the astrobiology research group, involved in multiple studies of the elemental requirements of Earth life (some of it originating in pretty "extreme" environments — high temperatures, acidity, salinity, etc.).

Outside of school/work (wait... what?), we've both been at times involved in local dance communities, with my wife dancing in various modern tribal and fusion styles (often with props — veils, fans, swords, etc.) and me doing a bit of dance and drumming. I also began training in kokikai aikido a couple years ago, and since then it's become an important part of my life. She also does some costume design and sewing, I play around with various visual-art projects and science-fiction/fantasy writing, and we're both fans of computer and tabletop gaming.

Some of my interests/hobbies ...

Sciences:

  • astrobiology (history of life on Earth, possibility of life elsewhere in the Universe, and factors affecting habitability; also, the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life)
  • planetary systems (formation and evolution)
  • geosciences (especially paleontology)
  • "Earth system" science (changes in climate and habitability over time, mass extinction events, and human impacts)
  • biology (evolution, phylogenetics, and extremophiles)
  • naturalist philosophy; teaching critical thinking and the scientific method
Visual arts:
  • astronomical art (i.e., art informed by science — visualizations of astrophysical data and pretty pictures in general)
  • science/speculative-fiction and fantasy art
  • digital 3-D modeling and animation
  • Zen painting and calligraphy
  • Impressionists; the Hudson River School; super-/realism
Others:
  • music (vocal and instrumental trance, ambient; Celtic; tribal drumming; a bit of symphonic/epic metal)
  • dance (modern fusion and tribal)
  • gaming (video games and development; tabletop role-playing)
  • martial arts (aikido kokikai is the only one I currently practice, but I'm also interested in kendo, iaido, and archery)
  • Japanese language and culture (also, eastern-Asian art history)
  • world history (and history of scientific and technological developments)
  • cooking (vegetarian/vegan; Japanese, Indian, Mediterranean, among others; also, I really enjoy making bread!)


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