DOM: Tom Yahnke Sr.

Welcome to the first installment of Stardust@home’s Duster of the Month! Each month we will highlight one of the many Stardust@home volunteers (or “Dusters”) in our blog. The questions asked are designed to enlighten us about the very important human aspects and motivations of the project’s most valuable asset. Each month there will also be a new question from a random member of the science team. If you would like to be a featured Duster of the Month, please send an email to

 This Month’s Featured Duster is

Tom Yahnke Sr.


1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am retired and work part time at the St Louis Zoo railroad. I find this planet and all its people fascinating. I am hopelessly romantic and eternally optimistic. I believe if our government would listen to and work with our religious leaders, our scientists, our educators and the talented and generous people all around this planet, we will survive in peace.

2. What part of the world do you currently live?

St. Louis, MO about 6 blocks from Ted Drew’s Frozen custard on Route 66

3. Have you always had an interest in science?

Yes, science and art – collecting insects, nature photography, sculpture, designing and building machines.

4. Why do you dust?

To clean the floor, to clean the solar system, actually to make a small contribution to find how this universe and this planet work and how they came to exist. How did God do it?!

5. How do you connect to the internet (e.g., DSL, Cable, modem, Satellite)?

DSL with a wireless hub

6. Are you involved in any other “citizen science” projects?

Galaxy Zoo for a while. A remote camera operator (zoomie) for live streaming video of African animals watering at Pete’s pond in Botswana.

7. What is your overall life philosophy, or are there words you like to live by?

Encourage and inspire the curious (all ages), help the needy, have fun doing it.

8. What have you seen, heard, or done that has most amazed you?

In high school I built liquid fuel rocket engines, they all really worked. I saw a falling star streak across the sky and then fall to the ground near me. I saw Sputnik soon after it was launched, the first night it was visible. I am married to the same lovely woman, have 4 children and 9 grand children. I heard three elephants trumpet at once when their baby sister was born at St. Louis Zoo last summer. Held top power score and highest skill score at the same time with Stardust@home one night.

9. What about you surprises people the most?

My enthusiasm and willingness to share my experience in art, science and life with anyone.

And the Stardust@home science team question of the month is …..

This month’s question comes from IT tech Robert Lettieri. He asks “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?”

Chocolate chip mint or Ted Drew frozen custard