Monday, May 30, 2016

Meet your CSWA committee: Daryl Haggard

[In this installment of our "new" series on the Women in Astronomy blog (the first one is here), we continue to introduce our readers to the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy. Our next committee member to be introduced, Daryl Haggard, is the current lead editor for the AASWOMEN Newsletter (though passing the baton soon!), and has been a member of the committee for 2 years.]

Dr. Daryl Haggard is an Assistant Professor of Physics at McGill University in the McGill Space Institute. She studies active galactic nuclei and their host galaxies, the Galactic center and Sgr A*, and accretion-driven outflows using multi-wavelength and time domain surveys. (She co-authored, with Geoff Bower, a recent review of happenings in the Galactic Center in the February 2015 issue of Sky & Telescope.)

Before coming to McGill, Daryl spent a year as faculty at Amherst College, and four years as a CIERA postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, where she also worked with the Reach for the Stars GK-12 program. As a graduate student at the University of Washington, she was instrumental in establishing the Pre-Major in Astronomy Program (Pre-MAP). Prior to these adventures, she completed a masters in Physics at San Francisco State University, and a bachelors in Philosophy (yes, you read that right) at St. John's College (Santa Fe).


In addition to serving on the CSWA, Daryl is an an editor for the AASWOMEN Newsletter and a member of the AAS Governance Task Force, and she previously served as an elected Member of the AAS High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) Executive Committee. Wearing these hats, she has participated in two visits to Capitol Hill to advocate for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and STEM education.

Daryl and fellow astronomer Dr. Nicolas Cowan are often busy raising their son, Henri, who was born while they were in graduate school at the University of Washington -- they are both still grateful for the support the UW community offered them in this and other endeavors. Daryl was born in Seattle, WA, fifth of eight (!) Haggard children, and raised from the age of 6 months in Santa Fe, NM (where she was often found running wild at Plants of the Southwest).

Daryl is working to educate herself about inclusion and institutional racism and to share these perspectives with her astronomy and physics colleagues and students. Her education started with the NSF GK-12 program, the amazing NASA Jenkins Predoctoral Graduate Program, and Pre-MAP, and is still only just beginning. At the moment, she is writing/curating another blog series on equity and inclusion in our classrooms (the first two rounds are here and here).

1. Describe your first personal connection with astronomy/astrophysics?

Isaac Newton.  Seriously, I went to a hardcore liberal arts college where I learned about science by reading original sources, including Newton's Principia (BTW: the "c" is hard).  I liked that mathematical equations could explain the orbits of planets, and gravity assists!

2. What has your career path been like?  How did you get to where you currently are, and, if possible, where are you looking to go with your career next?

After getting excited by orbital mechanics, I was a teacher in Sichuan, China, then a "suit" in Silicon Valley, before returning to school at San Francisco State University to take two years of remedial physics (despite the beautiful prose, reading Newton doesn't help you solve integrals in your sleep). At SFSU, I then pursued a masters in Physics working on globular clusters with Dr. Adrienne Cool. That got me into an Astronomy PhD program at the University of Washington, advised by Prof. Scott Anderson and focusing on accreting supermassive black holes. Generous support from the NASA Harriett Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship program connected me to Dr. Paul Green (and the ChaMP), who co-advised my dissertation and facilitated research visits to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Grad school was followed by a CIERA postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University, a stint as faculty at Amherst College, and now an Assistant Professor of Physics at McGill University in Canada.

3. Who inspired you?

My parents. My dad was mathematician turned college professor, and his death prompted me to give up comfortable San Francisco life to return to school. My mom was trained as a biologist and opened a native plant nursery right around when I was born. She's nursed the small business into an awesome and heartfelt enterprise.

5. What movement are you most passionate about working with?

Making the world, in particular academic astronomy, a more equitable place.

6. What do you do for fun?

Yoga, gardening, and cocktails (not always in that order).

7. What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you?

It may not be the most efficient way into an academic job in the sciences, but it certainly gives me perspective.