More Winners!

We’re pleased to announce two new additions to the Rising Star Grant for The Amazing Meeting 2013!


Emily Dietle

A native Texan, Emily heads the blog emilyhasbooks, writing on issues of atheism, humanism, and state-church separation. She is an aspiring speaker, avid reader, and strives to spread awareness and educate online and in person.



Astrid Johannsen

Astrid graduated in 2009 from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies. “I’ve always sought to understand why people are religious, because religion is something I’ve questioned since my youth”. Today Johannsen draws comics, does freelance illustration, and blogs about religion, skepticism, atheism, and other subjects at Skeptic Freethought. More of Astrid’s illustration work can be found at

Second Round of Winners!

We’re pleased to announce three new additions to the Rising Star Grant for The Amazing Meeting 2013!


Jessica Castillo

Currently studying philosophy at the University of Missouri in Kansas City, Jessica plans on pursuing a career in education. She’s 29, has two lovely daughters, and many different passions in life all stemming from overwhelming curiosity and a genuine love of learning. Ultimately, she’s eager to become an advocate for skepticism and education.

Ana Ruiz 


Ana was born in Miami Florida, with parents from Cuba. She grew up as a Catholic Christian, but converted to evangelical Christianity in her early teens. As a devoted evangelical Christian, she became disillusioned after attending University. She moved to New York when she was 12 and has lived there ever since, currently working as a freelance web developer, with the hope to go back to school after her daughter gets a bit older.

Sasha Halasz 


Sasha graduated in May from Moravian College with honors in Neuroscience. She was very involved as an undergraduate in many clubs and organizations including serving as president of her campus neuroscience club and volunteering for local community partners. She has been very engaged in research throughout her undergraduate career and recently completed a yearlong study of a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease for her senior thesis. She is a strong advocate for science research and outreach and has traveled to the past two Society for Neuroscience national conferences as well as Capitol Hill Day in D.C to promote a scientific perspective. She has a particular interest in health and medicine and will be attending medical school this August.

First Round of Winners!

It’s a pleasure to announce the first round of TAM2013 Rising Star grant winners. Please keep supporting the program by donating so more applicants can be chosen!


Kyle Sanders

Kyle is a C-130 Air Force pilot currently stationed in Little Rock, Arkansas, graduated from the Air Force Academy 2008, and has since been engaged in local groups at each of his duty locations. With a passion for science communication, he is also an artist creating a new a comic strip, “Carbon Dating”, for web and print about science and relationships, written specifically for the skeptic audience.

BrandieHesseBrandie Hesse

Brandie is a fourth year history student and the University of Calgary and upcoming president of the University of Calgary Freethinkers Club, which produces a club podcast and organizes local events. She intends to complete a double major in philosophy, obtain a PhD, and become a research professor and author of books on the history of religion. Her passion for activism focuses on humanism and the elimination of discrimination, and is interested in future involvement in politics to promote these goals.


Trent Brusky

Trent is a musician and the creator of Dropfox, a project dedicated to providing music to secular, freethought, science, and skeptic podcasts, having produced tracks for Oddments, Dogma Debate, Meet the Skeptics, The Skeptic Zone, and Skepticality. He is also an engineer technology student and State College of Florida and hopes to work in alternative energies in the future.