The MERC Team

Since we started in 2003, we’ve had exceptional talent on our team. Every day, these team members bring the same passionate attitude, inspired to provide each customer with the best possible engineering solution. This is what has distinguished MERC for the last 20 years, and that is what will continue to power us into the future.

President & CEO


Vice President & COO

David Miller grew up in the farm area of Howard County in Maryland. He started his career at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Greenbelt, Maryland, in engineering services as a government contractor. His first assignment was with the Sounding Rocket Division, where he developed a foundational understanding of solid rocket propulsion, electro-explosives, electro-mechanical devices such as motorized systems for experiment observations and parachute recovery systems, as well as instrumentation and data reduction. Mr. Miller later served as an integration engineer with the Special Payloads Division at GSFC. This assignment allowed him to work with scientific researchers from all over the world on a variety of space instruments, including micro-gravity, space phenomenology, astrophysics and small satellite deployments.

Mr. Miller's expertise in mechanical engineering has given him the opportunity to work with a number of prime government contractors to provide specialized engineering services in the areas of spacecraft and suborbital rocketry. His positions have increased in responsibility leading to project management roles for technology developments for space applications as well as a program management role for a prime mechanical engineering services contract at GSFC.

Mr. Miller holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Systems Engineering from University of Maryland Baltimore County. He has over 35 years’ experience in the aerospace industry with space shuttle and satellite system design and program management experience.


Daniel is a Maryland Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Valuation Analyst. He and HeimLantz act as the Outsourced CFO for MERC, providing strategic consulting, accounting, and tax services to management. Daniel’s colleagues value him for both his knowledge and his ability to present complex ideas in a manner that is easy to grasp.

He and HeimLantz provide crucial insight and proactive thinking to help management operate effectively and efficiently and make sound financial and strategic decisions. They also bring extensive experience working with government contractors and assisting them with the unique accounting, finance, operational, and tax matters that they experience.

Daniel received a Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, and a Master of Science in Accounting and Business Advisory Services degree from the Merrick School of Business at the University of Baltimore. Born in Washington, D.C., Daniel has spent most of his life in Annapolis, Maryland. He currently lives there with his wife, Sarah, and their three children, Tyler, Sada, and Tobias.


Nick Davis

Nick Davis is a Systems Engineer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where he is a member of the project team for the next flagship observatory, the Roman Space Telescope. In addition to being a member of the Electrical Integration and Test and Electrical Systems teams, he is primarily responsible for Electromagnetic Interference and Compatibility (EMI/EMC) testing and compatibility across the spacecraft and scientific instruments. He regularly leads interorganizational and interdisciplinary teams in support of the Roman Integration and Test campaign. Mr. Davis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the University of Maryland. His aerospace career started while still a student at Maryland, where he was a member of the JWST Systems Team. This opportunity allowed him to gain experience in a wide variety of disciplines, preparing him for his role on RST.

Project Management / Senior Systems Engineer

John Loiacono

John Loiacono has over 40 years of experience in the design, development, and management of flight systems for NASA/GSFC. He began his aerospace career at NASA/GSFC as a bench engineer designing electronics for GSFC’s Galileo NMS Mass Spectrometers, supported its design, integration and testing. Next, he was promoted to Instrument Manager for small space flight instruments TOMS, EO-1/ALI and as deputy Instrument Manager for a larger HST/STIS instrument. He was selected as the Instrument Systems Manager and then as Deputy Project Manager for EOS/Aura, OSIRIS-REx, and Lucy Projects, and Project Manager of ICESat-2.

He formulated and then led successful international partnerships for NASA with USSR, Russian Space Agency (RSA), Canadian Space Agency (CSA), Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), UK, Netherlands, and Finland. On EOS/Aura Project, he led the technical team through the complex development challenges and gave the “Go for launch” as the spacecraft mission director.

John is a graduate of NASA/GSFC Program Management Development Emprise (PMDE) program, selected into the very first technical class. He attended George Washington University for Masters in Engineering Management, the University of Maryland for Masters Science in Electrical Engineering, and received a Bachelor Electrical Engineering from The Catholic University of America.

John received notable awards for his work:

  1. NASA’s Medal for Outstanding Leadership on OSIRIS-REx
  2. NASA’s Medal for Outstanding Leadership for EOS/Aura
  3. NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for leading the capture teams for ICESat-2 and PACE missions
  4. NASA’s Exceptional Achievement Medal for TOMS, for leading the development and launch of the TOMS instrument from Plesetsk, Arkhangelsk, Russia

John has a Minor Planet Designation called 90383 Johnloiacono which orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter.

Sr. Mission Systems Engineer

Rick Pickering

Rick Pickering has over 40 years of experience in leading teams in the design, development, operations, and management of complex systems. Rick received a BS in Aerospace Engineering from the US Naval Academy in 1980. His career began in the Aircraft Maintenance Office in a Marine A-6E Intruder squadron.

Upon leaving active duty in 1985, Rick worked for ARINC Research Corporation performing aviation logistics analysis in support of the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) for the AV-8B Harrier II program. In 1987, Rick transitioned to civil service for NAVAIR, performing engineering and systems management for the E-2C Hawkeye and C-2A Greyhound aircraft.

In 1989, Rick joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), serving in positions of increasing responsibility within the project offices for the Space Station Freedom Program, Earth Observing System (EOS) Terra, Landsat-7, Earth Observing (EO)-1, Vegetation Canopy Lidar, EOS Aqua, and EOS Aura. Rick’s tenure at GSFC has included support to the James Webb Space Telescope, serving as the Deputy Program Manager for the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES)-R Series, and supporting the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). He has also supported GSFC as the Program Manager for the Systems Engineering and Advanced Services (SEAS) contract.

In 2021, Rick joined MERC Aerospace, to provide systems engineering and program management support for JPSS, as well as the Geostationary Extended Observations (GeoXO) program (the follow-on to the GOES-R Series).

In parallel with his civilian career, Rick continued to serve in the Marine Reserves through 2003, retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel. Rick and his wife, Sharon, have been married for more than forty years, are blessed with three adult children and two grandchildren.

Program Manager / Instrument Manager

David Sohl grew up in the small town of Linthicum, Maryland just south of Baltimore City. He joined the United States Air Force in 1975 as an electronics technician working on Radio Relay Equipment and assigned to the 2187 Communications Group in Rimini Italy.

David began his aerospace career in 1979 at GSFC, developing sounding rocket payloads and supporting their integration, test, as well as supporting launches from White Sands, New Mexico and Siple Station, Antarctica. His career path then moved him to NRL as part of the Solar Ultraviolet Spectral Irradiance Monitor engineering team as an Electrical Systems Engineer. While at NRL he supported 4 space shuttle missions and the UARS satellite integration, launch, and commissioning.

He returned to GSFC in 1995 as an electrical engineer performing board and electronics box designs for the sounding rocket program and supported launches from Puerto Rico, Svalbard, Sweden, Wallops Island Virginia, and Poker Flats, Alaska. Dave’s aircraft experience was as the electrical systems engineer on High Resolution Airborne Wide-band Camera (HAWC) payload for the Sophia aircraft. From there he served as the I&T manager for the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) for the Swift Mission from 2002-2005. As Instrument Manager he spearheaded pioneering work on the Microshutters subsystem for European Space Agency (ESA) Near Infrared Spectrometer (NIRSpec) for James Web Space Telescope (JWST), completing a successful critical design review. After this he was selected as the Branch Head for the Instrument Electronics Development Branch Code 564 and served in that capacity from 2009-2014. His final assignment before retiring from the federal government was as the Senior Integration and Test Manager for the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) for the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean Ecosystem (PACE) Mission.

Dave’s career has taken him through all aspects of spaceflight instrument design, assembly, calibration, testing, launch and on-orbit operations. He has successfully lead instrument teams comprised of diverse engineering and science disciplines.

Dave holds a BS in Electrical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University 1992, is the recipient of the NASA Goddard Thomas Bundney Award for Engineering Integrity in 2012 for his work on the Microshutter Array Failure Review Board, and is the recipient of the NASA 1981 Antarctic Service Metal for support of sounding rocket missions from Siple Station, Antarctica.

Program Manager / Instrument Manager
Tim Zukowski

Mr. Zukowski began his career in aerospace in Southern California after graduate school in the late 80's, working on supporting various research efforts associated with the Strategic Defense Initiative, including high energy laser effects and related topics. His responsibilities included instrumentation and experiment development, as well as field tests. This early work set the stage for a career in instrumentation, testing and calibration over the entire range of optics from X-rays to the Far Infrared.

Moving to the DC metro area in 1990, Mr. Zukowski started working as a support contractor at Goddard Space Flight Center and spent the majority of his career there. An early opportunity to be a part of the Earth Observing System instrument selection review activity provided a path to work on numerous flight instrument programs developing optical test GSE, performing testing and calibration, and ultimately instrument systems engineering functions for such programs as HST COSTAR, EOS MODIS, HST NICMOS, EO-1, EOS HIRDLS, SWIFT UVOT, GOES, JWST, LCRD, Solar Orbiter, and Parker Solar Probe. Currently, he has been working with JHU APL in support of the EIS for the Europa Clipper mission, an exciting opportunity to get an in-depth look at the remarkable moon of Jupiter.

Mr. Zukowski has an M.S. in Physics from Caltech, and B.S degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Virginia Tech. He has received awards for the GOES collimator development (patent awarded), the HST First Servicing Mission, and for EO-1.

Board of Advisors

Senior Advisor
Dr. Charles Pellerin

Dr. Pellerin holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Catholic University as well as an executive MBA from Harvard Business School, and is the former decade-long director of NASA's Astrophysics Division, where he oversaw a multi-billion-dollar program, launched a dozen satellites, and led the team that repaired the Hubble Space Telescope. During his career, Dr. Pellerin has earned many awards, including NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s highest patent-related award for a “Two-axis Fluxgate Magnetometer”, two Outstanding Leadership Medals from NASA for work as their Astrophysics Director, a Distinguished Service Medal from NASA for leadership of the Astrophysics Program, the Space Flight Award from the American Astronautical Society for developing the Great Observatories Program (which garnered over $15B for space astrophysics), and a Presidential Rank Award from U.S. Presidents Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton for his “…sustained superior accomplishments”.

Dr. Pellerin was also a Professor of Leadership at the University of Colorado’s Business School at Boulder, where he created and delivered a course on Leadership to undergraduates, MBAs, and executives. In 1995, Dr. Pellerin founded “4-D Systems”, where he supports his current passion supporting human-developers worldwide using his “4-D process” to enhance business performance. His book, How NASA Builds Teams (Wiley, 2009) continues to sell well in English and eight other languages. While Dr. Pellerin continues to receive honors from around the globe, a movie is currently in the works to chronicle his distinguished career and exemplary leadership skills. He currently makes his home in Boulder, Colorado, sharing a fulfilling life with his wife, Junko.

Senior Advisor
Janet Barth

Janet L. Barth received a B.S. degree in Mathematics from the University of Maryland, where she pursued graduate studies in computer science, in 1978. Janet has been active in the radiation effects community for over 40 years. She was a lead radiation hardness assurance engineer for NASA space flight programs and supported the NASA Electronic Parts and Packaging (NEPP) Program, which focuses on the reliability of electronic parts for space programs. Ms. Barth was on the proposal team for the NASA Living With a Star (LWS) Program and served on NASA’s LWS Science Architecture Committee. She retired from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in 2014.

At her retirement, she was the Chief of GSFC’s Electrical Engineering Division where she was responsible for the delivery of spacecraft and instrument avionics to NASA’s science missions, including the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the SWIFT Burst Alert Telescope, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Global Precipitation Measurement mission, and the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission. She also directed the development of microwave and optical communications systems and suborbital avionics systems at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility.

Recipient of the 2023 IEEE Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award

For leadership of and contributions to the advancement of the design, building, deployment, and operation of capable, robust space systems.

Senior Advisor
Bill Koselka

Bill Koselka is a proven senior manager with over 50 years’ experience in federal contracting within complex aerospace engineering environments, including large DOD primes and start-up operations. Most recently he has served in capture and business development roles helping various companies win strategic federal contracts.

Mr. Koselka's prior experience includes a long career as a manager for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) leading the Deep Space Network, the Space Flight Operations Facility, and the Ground Communications Facility, and serving as Director of the Mission Operations Division. Mr. Koselka was the Program Manager for the NASA Sounding Rocket Operations Contract (NSROC) during its inception in 1998 to 2001.

Mr. Koselka was Assistant Professor in Aviation Technology at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from University of Michigan, a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from University of Washington, a Master of Science in Research & Development Management from Florida State University, and has also graduated from the Command and Staff College, Air War University.

Senior Technical Advisor
Paul C. Stewart

Paul currently serves as a Senior Technical Advisor to MERC Aerospace and as the founder/director of Sundance Consultants, LLC serving a broad customer base in the national security and DoD sectors. Prior to his current positions, he served the Senior Director at Ball Aerospace, Boulder, CO from 2020-2022; and as Chief Technology Officer at the Space Dynamics Laboratory in Northern Utah from 2012-2020. Prior to these positions he served 30 years in the U.S. Navy culminating his career as the Commander/Director of the Naval Research Laboratory from 2008 to 2012. From 2005 to 2008, Mr. Stewart was assigned to the Office of Naval Research as Deputy Director and Division Director; additionally, he served as the U.S. National Officer to the NATO Undersea Research Center, in Italy.

Previously, Mr. Stewart served as the Director, National Ice Center in Washington, DC, a NOAA, USN and USCG agency and as the Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Navy. Prior to 2000, Mr. Stewart served in numerous operational and at sea positions including: oceanographer to Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group Two aboard USS George Washington (CVN-73), the Naval Pacific Oceanography Center, USS Princeton (CG-59) and USS Constant (MSO-427). Mr. Stewart was commissioned in Washington, DC under the Naval Nuclear Power Program in 1983.

Mr. Stewart holds a BS in Mathematics, an MS in Physics, an MS in National Security and Strategy and is a certified member of the Acquisition Professional Community in Science and Technology Management (STM). Additionally, he is a certified Space Cadre officer and an Information Warfare Corp qualified officer. Mr. Stewart's awards include: Legion of Merit with gold star, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with gold stars in lieu of third award, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold stars in lieu of fourth award, and various other personal and campaign medals.

Mr. Stewart is married to the former Sunny Lewis of San Diego and they have four adult sons: Riggs, Grant, Noah (Navy LT) and Wyatt. They split their time between their ranch in Northern Utah and Sundance. Additionally, they serve on several philanthropic and science boards in the Western US. Other interests include skiing, sailing, hiking, fly-fishing, pottery, woodworking, birding and aging gracefully.

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