Spring 2013

Scientist/Musician Pulls an Intricate Camera System Together

Last fall, optical sciences major Daniel Millstone, 21, had what he allows was a “pretty busy semester.”

Besides shouldering a heavy course load, he was taking guitar lessons and playing music for Jewish services at Hillel. In a Laser Fun Day at the UA, he showed little kids how cool science can be. And in early December, he ran the CATWalk 5K.

How did he do?

“Oh, I won,” he says casually. “My time was 20 minutes, 34 seconds.”

Then there’s the matter of his student job at OSIRIS-REx. 

“Look at the acronym OSIRIS,” he says excitedly. “The ‘O’ stands for ‘origins.’ They’re looking at the history of the universe — trying to learn more about the universe itself.”

Not bad for a part-time gig for a college junior.  

Millstone is on the OSIRIS-REx Camera Suite (OCAMS) team, working under Catherine Merrill, trying to “create synthesized flow for the camera system and trying to map out how to get testing done in a timely manner” before the project’s upcoming NASA review.  

“It’s challenging but really enjoyable,” he adds. “It’s a fun group of people. Everybody’s really excited about what they’re doing” — and in awe of the fact that this is a real-life space mission run by NASA. 

Millstone is a Tucson native, born and raised in the Old Pueblo. His parents both had science careers: his father as a middle-school science teacher and his mother as a nurse. They sent him to Booth-Fickett Math/Science Magnet School and Tucson High, a science and arts magnet that’s a hop and a skip from the UA. 

“We’d go on field trips to the University,” Millstone says. On one class trip, he got his first look at the College of Optical Sciences, where he’s now enrolled.

“The UA has the best optics program in the nation,” he says proudly. “I expect to continue with optics grad school,” either at the UA or at another university. “I’m really excited to learn more.”

Any chance he’d take it easy over winter vacation? 

No indeed. Millstone traveled to Israel on a Birthright trip over the break.