Issue of June 29, 2012
eds. Joan Schmelz, Caroline Simpson, and Michele Montgomery
[This week's guest editor is Daryl Haggard. Daryl is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Interdisciplinary Exploration and Research in Astrophysics (CIERA) at Northwestern University. She studies AGN and their host galaxies, accreting compact binaries, and accretion-driven outflows using multi-wavelength and time domain surveys.]
This week's issues:
1. Janet Luhmann Wins Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Award
From: Joan Schmelz [jschmelz_at_memphis.edu]
The Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) Space Science Award for outstanding contributions to space science will be presented to Dr. Janet Luhmann during the 39th COSPAR Scientific Assembly, 14 - 22 July 2012, Mysore, India
Dr. Luhmann is a Senior Fellow at the Space Sciences Laboratory of the University of California Berkeley and the Principal Investigator of the IMPACT suite of instruments on the twin spacecraft STEREO mission. Following her Ph. D. in Astronomy from the University of Maryland, she joined the particles and Fields Department of the Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo California. In 1980 she joined the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles, moving to her current position in Berkeley in 1994.
Janet Luhmann started her career in cosmic ray physics, both observation and theory; at Aerospace she moved into studies of the X-ray fluxes from the Earth’s atmosphere; at UCLA she expanded into radar studies of the Earth’s Upper Atmosphere and in parallel the interaction of the solar wind with Venus completely changing the paradigms in both fields. From Venus it was a short hop to Mars where she showed how dust storms lead to ionospheric changes due to heating of the upper atmosphere. At Berkeley she moved deeper into the origin of interplanetary disturbances and the structure of the coronal magnetic field as well as leading the development and integration of the IMPACT sensor suite for the STEREO mission, all the while keeping up with her growing interests in the outer planets, especially the study of the interaction of the Saturnian magnetosphere with its moon, Titan, using data from the Cassini mission. Currently in addition to STEREO and Cassini she is studying Venus Express observations and helping prepare the Mars mission, Maven, for its upcoming investigation of the Martian upper atmosphere. She has been a regular contributor to the scientific exchanges of COSPAR Commissions B, C, D, and E for over 30 years and has chaired important panels and committees for the American Geophysical Union, the US National Academy, NASA and IAGA.
Congratulations, Janet!Back to top.
2. The Ongoing Struggle to Balance Work and Career
From: Michele Montgomery [montgomery_at_physics.ucf.edu]
The NPR Diane Rehm show put the spotlight on 'The Ongoing Struggle to Balance Career and Family' in the 10 am EST hour show on Monday, June 25, 2012. Both men and women contributed to the discussion on the struggles families have today in the United States to achieve work, career, and family, including a comment on how the United States is still one of the last civilized countries to not have paid maternity leave. To see their comments, guest speaker bio-briefs, and related links, please seeBack to top.
3. My Daughter’s Experience with Math and Science
From: Neil Gehrels via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
[This week’s guest blogger is Neil Gehrels. Neil is Chief of the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He is Principal Investigator of NASA's Swift observatory and Deputy Project Scientist for the Fermi observatory. He received his Ph.D. in physics at Caltech in 1981. His research interest is in exploding objects in the universe such as gamma-ray bursts and supernovae.]
There were a few minutes of "meet the speaker" time before a talk I gave this Spring and a question came up about how my kids felt growing up with scientist parents. "Well, my daughter liked science in grade school ... ". I could hear the audience groan, anticipating a story of teen peer pressure turning her in a different direction. It was really a nice moment when the rest of the answer didn't go that way. "I'm happy to say that she pursued that interest through school years and is now a graduate student in physics."
Here is the story of Emily. My wife, Ellen, and I are both physicists and our oldest offspring, Tom, was a kid who liked math and gadgets from day one. Emily was born into a geek family for sure, and we may have even over-reacted to not pressure her in that direction. She played with dolls, loved pink and had regular friends in the neighborhood. She was a smart kid, but didn't fiddle as much with numbers and puzzles as her brother. She liked people issues and was a drama queen. One day at age 4, after a small argument with her mother, she left a note: "Bay Mom, I am gon". She had run away from home dragging a suitcase down the block. We quickly found her, and later laughed at the memory. We certainly enjoyed the diversity in our house.
To read more:Back to top.
4. "Science: It's a Girl Thing" (Just Add Lipstick)
From: Daryl Haggard via womeninastronomy.blogspot.com
[This week featured another guest blogger, Daryl Haggard, who is also guest editing this week's AASWOMEN Newsletter. Daryl's brief bio is included above.]
The European Commission on Research and Innovation released an incendiary video this week:
It was intended to attract young women (teens and pre-teens) to the sciences. Instead it elicited backlash across nations -- the video has subsequently been removed from the EU's "Science: It's a Girl Thing" webpage:
The other videos on this website, of real female scientists, are wonderful and paint an honest and realistic picture of what we "look" like and what we do.
To read more:Back to top.
5. Science it's a Girl Thing - FAIL?
From: Daryl Haggard [dhaggard_at_northwestern.edu]
[There's a thoughtful discussion with Astronomer Dr. Meghan Gray about the EU's video and campaign on YouTube. -Eds]
Watch it here:Back to top.
6. Survey of Job/Career Satisfaction
From: Lynne Hillenbrand [lah_at_astro.caltech.edu]
This survey seems worth publicizing to AASWomen as it is directed towards the postdoctoral and junior permanent demographic with a "US" check-box even though it is led in Germany/Europe.
Dear Colleagues (RAS Points of Contact),
The RAS Committee for Women in Astronomy and Geophysics (CWiAG) is supporting a project led by Christiane Helling (St Andrews) and Janine Fohlmeister (Heidelberg) that will investigate UK careers in astronomy. As part of this, they are conducting a survey with a particular focus on whether issues like gender and parenting have an effect on career prospects. CWiAG is extremely interested in the survey results that will be compared with a similar exercise carried out in Germany (you can see a preprint of their paper on ‘The career situation of female astronomers in Germany’ in Astronomische Nachrichten at
We would be very grateful if you could circulate this request and encourage members of your group to complete the survey. It sits on a single web page and is mostly made up of multiple choice options so should not take that long to fill in.
The link to the survey is
and respondents need to enter ‘Neptun’ in the Losung (password) box.
Many thanks for your help, Dr Robert Massey Deputy Executive Secretary Royal Astronomical SocietyBack to top.
7. Google Doodles, Lack of Gender Diversity
From: Ann Martin [amartin10_at_gmail.com]
If you're familiar with Google Doodles, the periodic special logos that replace the typical Google logo for a day, you might also be familiar with a nagging feeling that women aren't exactly getting their fair share of recognition. You would be right. From 2008 to June 20th, 2012, the United States Google homepage has displayed 78 Doodles honoring individuals, and only 7 of those have honored women. If you count up the Doodles that Google has posted globally, the numbers increase to 285 total Doodles and just 36 representing women. That's 9% here in the U.S., and only 12% worldwide.
I first noticed this when I was a graduate student in astronomy at Cornell University; my officemates and I would often comment on our perception that Doodles weren't exactly representative, but I don't think we realized the situation was quite as bad as it really is. After graduating, I started my blog, Speaking Up ( http://speakingupforus.wordpress.com ), with an Open Letter to the Doodles team in the hope of getting Google to notice and address this issue. The blog tracks the statistics of the Google Doodles gender distribution and highlights Doodle-worthy women. This week marks the midpoint in 2012, and this benchmark reminds me that while 50% of the year has gone by, we still don't see anything approaching 50% representation of women's accomplishments in Google Doodles. To acknowledge this benchmark and to try to bring some more attention to the gender disparity and its solutions, Speaking Up will be hosting a special series of posts this week, called The Midpoint Series. I'll be featuring special content and lots of guest posts - including several from my colleagues in astronomy - highlighting more and more Doodle Worthy Women and their amazing achievements. I'm also going to provide an up-to-date spreadsheet and new graphics showing the statistics on Google Doodles in the U.S. and around the world.
To kick off the 2012 Midpoint Series, I've posted a new open letter to Google and the Doodles team. Throughout the week, lots of new content will be coming up; you can track all of that on the 2012 Midpoint Series page
I'd love for you to check out the blog, see what we're doing, and think about the Doodle-worthy women on YOUR list. The Midpoint benchmark is a great opportunity to call some attention to the sad state of gender representation in Google Doodles, so please take a look and help us spread the message!Back to top.
8. Acing the Physics GRE
From: WIPHYS, June 26, 2012
[This is a worthwhile item to pass on to your student advisees, who may be approaching this academic hurtle in the coming year. -Eds]
Free webinar on July 17, 3-4pm ET
Many physics students are intimidated by the prospect of taking the physics GRE subject exam. What should you expect? How should you prepare? Which strategies will give you the best edge on the exam? In this interactive webinar, GRE prep. course leader Jeremy Dodd will describe the content and format of the Physics GRE subject test provide advice and tips on how best to prepare for the test, and offer test-taking strategies. Arlene Modeste-Knowles, APS Diversity Programs Administrator, will moderate the discussion.
To learn more or to register:Back to top.
9. Job Opportunities
* AURA: Sr. Systems Engineer – LSST – Job #12-0097 * AURA: Education Outreach Assistant – NOAO – Job #12-0068 * AURA: Optical System Engineer – ATST – Job #12-0022 * AURA: Pipeline Support Analyst – NOAO – Job #12-0099 (Current NOAO employees only)
Details for the AURA positions are available here:
* Assistant Director of Research, Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research, Baylor University * Assistant Research Faculty, Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research, Baylor University
Details for the Baylor positions are here:
* Terrestrial Scientist, Army Research Office
* Atmospheric Scientist, Army Research OfficeBack to top.
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12. Access to Past Issues
Each annual summary includes an index of topics covered.Back to top.