Workshop Staff

The following staff members will be present at the workshop:

Headshot of Diane Turnshek. Front view, facing forward. Wearing a black tank top. Diane Turnshek (Alpha Director and Founder) is an astronomer and a science fiction author whose short fiction has been published in Analog Magazine and elsewhere.  She’s been on the Board of Directors for SFWA and Parsec, Pittsburgh’s premier literary genre organization. She has taught college writing classes, organized science fiction conferences, started a small press, workshops, a critiquing group, and now a new YA lecture series. She teaches astronomy and physics  at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh.
Headshot of David Barr Kirtley. Front view, facing forward. Wearing a black T-shirt. David Barr Kirtley is the co-host of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast on His short fiction appears in magazines such as Realms of FantasyWeird TalesLightspeed, and Intergalactic Medicine Show, on podcasts such as Escape Pod and Pseudopod, and in books such as The Living DeadNew CthulhuThe Way of the Wizard, and The Dragon Done It. His story “Save Me Plz” was picked by editor Rich Horton for the 2008 edition of the anthology series Fantasy: The Best of the Year.
Headshot of Catherine Krahe. Side view, facing forward. Catherine Krahe’s fiction has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Nature Futures, and Daily Science Fiction. She is a Senior Fiction Editor at Strange Horizons. She recently received a Master’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Iowa and plans to save the world by telling stories and planting trees.
Headshot of Karina Sumner-Smith. Front view, facing forward. Wearing earrings, a black sweater, and a light blue collared shirt. Karina Sumner-Smith is a fantasy author and freelance writer represented by Sara Megibow of the Nelson Literary Agency.  Her first novel, Radiant, was published by Talos/Skyhorse in Fall 2014.  Prior to focusing on novel-length work, Karina published a range of fantasy, science fiction and horror short stories, including Nebula Award nominated story “An End to All Things,” and ultra-short story “When the Zombies Win,” which appeared in two Best of the Year anthologies.  She previously supported Alpha as a staff member from 2007-2010.
Headshot of Seth Dickinson. Front view, facing forward. Seth Dickinson is a 2006/2007 Alpha alum, and since 2011, an Alpha instructor. His fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Analog, Strange Horizons, and Clarkesworld, and– in 2011–captured the top spot in the Dell Awards. He writes science fiction and fantasy, with a particular interest in gender and systems of oppression. His first novel, The Traitor Baru Cormorant, is forthcoming from Tor Books in fall 2015.
Headshot of Rachel Halpern. Front view, facing forward. Wearing a red and black flannel shirt over a blue t-shirt. Rachel Halpern is a graduate of Alpha (’07/’08) and Grinnell College, and is currently finishing up an MFA in creative writing. She’s also the editor-in-chief of Inscription Magazine, where she publishes diverse sci-fi/fantasy stories for teens online. Her own work has appeared in Daily Science Fiction and Beneath Ceaseless Skies. She likes strange magic, smart monsters, and social justice.
Headshot of Lara Elena Donnelly. Front view, leaning to Lara's right. Wearing a white collared shirt and an untied bowtie. Lara Elena Donnelly (Publicity Coordinator) is a product of Alphas 2007 and 2008, and attended the Clarion workshop at UCSD in 2012. She has published fiction and poetry in Mythic Delirium, Strange Horizons, and Escape Pod, among other venues. Her story “In the Guts of the Night” won the Dell Magazine Award in 2013, and her debut novel Amberlough is due out from Tor Books in fall 2016.
Headshot of Elsa Sjunneson-Henry. Front view facing camera. Wearing glasses and a gray sweater. Elsa Sjunneson-Henry is a deafblind speculative fiction writer, editor and disability activist. She’s the Managing Editor of Fireside Magazine and the Non-Fiction Guest Editor in Chief of Disabled People Destroy Science Fiction. Her fiction has appeared in Fireside MagazineGhost in the Cogs, and Upside Down, Inverted Tropes in Storytelling. Her non-fiction has appeared at tor.comUncanny MagazineThe Boston Globe, and numerous other places. She writes in a dragon lair in New Jersey.
Headshot of Julie Holderman. Front view, facing forward. Wearing a scarf and a white jacket. Julie Holderman is an Alpha grad (’03/’04) who grew up telling stories in the frozen wastelands of Minnesotan suburbia. Over the past few years, she served as primary coordinating author on Tortall: A Spy’s Guide, a collection of in-character documents set in the bestselling Tortall universe by Tamora Pierce (available now via Random House Children’s Books). She spends her free time herding cats, watching ten-year-old scifi shows, and caring entirely too much about fictional people.
Headshot of Patrick Ropp. Front view, facing forward. Patrick is wearing a plaid collared shirt and a dark gray jacket. Patrick Ropp is a biophysics researcher at University of Pittsburgh and attended the Clarion UCSD workshop in 2013. He writes fantasy and science fiction short stories and graduated with a Master’s degree in computational biology from Carnegie Mellon. He wants to be a mad scientist when he grows up.

Support Staff

These staff members do amazing work behind the scenes to keep Alpha running smoothly:

John Schmid John Schmid is the Chief Administrator of the Alpha Workshop. In normal life John is a Systems Administrator for the University of Pittsburgh.