Thursday, November 7, 2019

Physics and Astronomy STEM Equality Achievement (SEA) Change Department Awards

By Arlene Modeste Knowles and Beth A. Cunningham

Over the last two years, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has developed the STEM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change Project which supports systemic, structural institutional transformation around diversity and inclusion in colleges and universities. It does so by encouraging, assisting and recognizing academic institutions that commit to and engage in the difficult work of removing structural barriers to success for women, blacks, Hispanics, Native Americans, people with disabilities, and others who are marginalized in STEM fields. In the SEA Change process, inclusion, and its valuable impacts, are measured by the experiences of students and faculty, as well as by data. The SEA Change Principles can be found here: https://seachange.aaas.org/principles/. Three universities were the first recipients of SEA Change bronze awards in February 2019: Boston University, University of California, Davis, and University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Cross-post: Every woman has an 'I Don't' list. And it's about time we shared them.

We all do so much. It's so easy to forget all you do and just focus on what you don't. But instead of feeling guilty for all the things you don't do, what if we shared them! Holly Wainwright, Head of Content on the Mamamia blog, writes in this blog post "But now I can see that what women really need to hear is not how other women “do it all”, so that we can mimic their to-do lists and add more and more to our cracking plates. No. We need to hear what other women aren’t doing."

Read more at:

https://www.mamamia.com.au/i-dont-list/

My list overlapped with hers in many spots, but here are a few additional things 'I Don't' do:

  • I don't make my kids brush their teeth in the morning. Heck, I don't even brush my teeth in the morning.
  • I don't make my bed.
  • I don't make my kids make their beds.
  • I don't cook most nights, because my partner gets home before me.
  • I don't do ANY work after 8:30 pm. That's TV time.
  • I don't have any hobbies.
  • I don't attend most CSWA meetings because they happen during my work hours.
  • I don't shower every day.

So, what don't you do? Feel free to share in the comments!

Friday, October 25, 2019

AASWomen Newsletter for October 25, 2019

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of October 25, 2019
eds: JoEllen McBride, Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Maria Patterson, and Alessandra Aloisi

Jessica Meir and Christina Koch, NASA, from item 3
This week's issues:

1. Career Profiles: Astronomer to Communications and Stewardship Staff Writer

2. Zibi Turtle: Titan of Exploration

3. Why spacesuit design choices - not women's physiques - delayed the first all-female spacewalk

4. NASA reveals new spacesuits designed to fit men and women

5. Announcement: Upcoming Proposal Writing Workshops for R&A Proposals

6. Bill Recognizing 'Hidden Figures' for Contributions to U.S. during the Space Race Headed to President Trump's Desk to become Law

7. All co-first authors are equal, but some are more equal than others

8. Being reminded of bias makes students treat female professors fairer

9. Townhall: STEM Student Success- Investing in Minority Serving Institutions for Our Future Workforce

10. Three Ways Your STEM Organization Can Have More Women Leaders - AWIS Research

11. Vote for the Woman Because She's a Woman

12. The Ghost of the Glass Ceiling That Still Haunts Equal Pay

13. What Girls Really Need to Succeed in STEM

14. By age 6, kids tend to see white men as more 'brilliant' than white women

15. Job Opportunities

16. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

17. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

18. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Career Profiles: Astronomer to Communications and Stewardship Staff Writer

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy is compiling interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Dr. JoEllen McBride, an astronomer who left astronomy to become a science writer. While a PhD student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she recognized her interest in outreach and education and developed her experience in these areas. After receiving her PhD, Dr. McBride was awarded an AAAS Mass Media Fellowship to be a science journalist at Voice of America. By day she is a Communications and Stewardship Staff Writer for Penn Medicine Development and Alumni Relations. The rest of her time is split between being with her family of two daughters, Carina and Alessa; two kitties, Thelma and Louise; and her partner, Ed, who is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Math at Thomas Jefferson University East Falls. She also still gives public talks about astronomy and teaches 4th-grade girls about astronomy ten Saturdays out of the year. You can follow her on Twitter at @astrophyspunkin or on Instagram at @astropunkin.

To access our previous Career Profiles, please go to http://womeninastronomy.blogspot.com/search/label/career%20profiles

Friday, October 18, 2019

AASWomen Newsletter for October 18, 2019

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of October 18, 2019
eds: JoEllen McBride, Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Maria Patterson, and Alessandra Aloisi

This week's issues:

1. US Delegation to the 7th International Conference on Women in Physics

2. Are We Pressuring Students to Choose a Hostile STEM?

3. The Style-Quantifying Astrophysicists of Silicon Valley

4. Viewpoint: Feynman, Harassment, and the Culture of Science

5. Doris Lessing at 100: roving time and space

6. Trailblazer in astronomy and science is Delaware's contribution to innovation coin series

7. How I overcame impostor syndrome after leaving academia

8. Shared parental leave: making it work for the whole family

9. Why the 2019 Nobel Prizes in STEM struggled with diversity

10. Once, most famous scientists were men. But that’s changing.

11. Transitioning from postdoc researcher to gig-economy scientist

12. NASA's First All-Female Spacewalk Set For Friday

13. Working Scientist podcast: How to inspire young women to consider scientific careers

14. Award recognizes efforts to inspire girls to pursue science careers

15. REGISTER NOW: Astro2020 Webinar on October 28 at 1:30pm ET

16. Extreme Galaxies and their Extreme Environments as Probes of Galaxy Formation Conference

17. Workshop announcement: How to start a peer-led SVSH prevention program

18. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

19. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

20. Access to Past Issues of the AASWOMEN newsletter

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

US Delegation to the 7th International Conference on Women in Physics

By Beth Cunningham


ICWIP 2017 Group Photo
Copyright Liz Hingley, IoP and University of Birmingham

Every three years, starting in 2002, the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics has sponsored a global conference for women physicists and astronomers. About 200 women and their male allies from approximately 60 countries gather to talk about their success stories and continuing challenges in advancing the careers of women in physics and astronomy. Attendees must be part of a country delegation in order to participate. The conference includes plenary sessions with world-renowned women physicists and astronomers, breakout sessions on special topics such as education and improving the workplace, poster sessions to highlight activities supporting women in each country and for attendees to showcase their own work, and multiple opportunities for networking and building collaborations and alliances. The seventh International Conference on Women in Physics (ICWIP 2020), will be held in Melbourne, Australia, from July 13 through July 17, 2020. The proceedings of all the previous ICWIPs are freely available.

Friday, October 11, 2019

AASWomen Newsletter for October 11, 2019

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of October 11, 2019
eds: JoEllen McBride, Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Maria Patterson, and Alessandra Aloisi
From item #1

This week's issues:

1. Crosspost: Women in Planetary Science, Summary from the Planetary Allyship Meeting 2019

2. Apology from the Blogger-in-Chief

3. ‘More women are being nominated’: Nobel academy head discusses diversity

4. The 1st All-Female Spacewalk Is Back on As NASA Gears Up for 10-EVA Marathon

5. Suggest new names for next generation Source Extractor

6. ‘Graduate school is not designed for us’: For parents in graduate programs, traditional academia and gendered expectations clash

7. Ada Lovelace, Pioneer

8. Too Emotional to Go to Space — 'Lucy in the Sky' Reinforces Negative Stereotypes (Op-Ed)

9. 30 women in robotics you need to know about – 2019

10. Nobel Prize in Physics awarded to scientists, some rally behind one who never got one

11. How to be your most authentic self

12. NIH marquee awards for ‘high risk, high reward’ projects skew male—again

13. Staying Power: a convening about postdoctoral women

14. STEM Student Success: Promising Approaches from Minority Serving Institutions

15. The Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM

16. Applications for the US Delegation to the 7th International Conference on Women in Physics

17. Job Opportunities

18. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

19. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

20. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Apology from the Blogger-in-Chief

I want to offer an apology to all of our readers for the Mental Health Day post I posted to the Women in Astronomy blog yesterday. It was a terrible oversight to not get approval from the entire CSWA, especially since I did not do my due diligence as a writer to vet claims in the post. I also want to apologize for the damage done to those who live with the conditions referenced in the post. Life is complicated by many factors. We're all just trying to live our best lives within our circumstances and no one should ever be shamed for that. I'm sorry for any pain or harm I caused.

Thank you to all the people who spoke out about the post and taught me this valuable lesson. I will do better.

-JoEllen McBride, PhD

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Crosspost: Women in Planetary Science, Summary from the Planetary Allyship Meeting 2019

The Women in Planetary Science blog this week featured a summary of the Planetary Allyship Meeting held at the Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) conference in September. The Planetary Allyship Meeting is an informal group that has met since 2015 to "discuss issues of equity, diversity, and inclusion among those who have privilege to support folks who have less." At the fourth annual DPS they discussed "several issues that span the Atlantic, affecting both our American and European colleagues, and issues that seem unique to each side of the divide."

Read more at

https://womeninplanetaryscience.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/summary-from-the-planetary-allyship-meeting-2019/

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

The Means of Doing Science

By JoEllen McBride, PhD

The views expressed in this blog post are not necessarily the views of the CSWA, the AAS, its Board of Trustees, or its membership.

When the U.S. decided to go to the Moon, President John F. Kennedy famously said “We choose to go to the moon and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” But is that why we went to the Moon? It is pretty well known that our arms race with the Soviet Union provided the urgency to send men to the Moon. We considered Air Force pilots for astronauts and the government pumped billions of dollars into creating NASA just to beat the Soviets to the Moon. It’s also safe to say that going to the Moon inspired a whole generation of kids to go into STEM fields and created new technologies that benefited most of us.

But what happens when you only look at the products of science and technology and not how it was accomplished? Is it just as inspiring to know the reasons behind why we went? What if the government had just invested in the space program for the technological innovations that would result and the people it would inspire? Instead, we went to the Moon to prove our military and technological superiority to another country that we were in a nuclear arms race with. A race that made it so children practiced drills in school in the event a nuclear weapon was detonated over their town and the government questioned the loyalty of its own citizens.

Friday, September 27, 2019

AASWomen Newsletter for September 27, 2019

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 27, 2019
eds: JoEllen McBride, Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Maria Patterson, and Alessandra Aloisi

This week's issues:

1. Crosspost: How The First Woman in Climate Science Beat One of Its Founders to a Major Finding

2. New Data on Bachelor's Degrees Earned by African Americans

3. Astronomy Degree Recipients: One Year After Degree

4. Latest Employment Data on New Physics & Astronomy PhDs

5. Lindsay Yazzolino Helps Visually Impaired People Engage With Science

6. What It’s Like to Be a Woman in the Academy

7. Leadership and Participation in NASA's Explorer-Class Missions

8. How can we STEM the tide of women graduates leaving science?

9. Beautiful (and free) posters celebrating women in science

10. Women miss out on high-profile awards and positions

11. Jeffrey Epstein Infiltrated Science Because It Was Ready To Accommodate Him

12. Why MIT’s Epstein Problem Is ‘Clearly a Women’s Issue’

13. 'Get Used to it' — The Women Who Broke Through Apollo's Glass Ceiling

14. How Do You Tell Colombian Kids A Science Yarn? With Crochet!

15. Job Opportunities

16. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

17. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

18. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Crosspost: How The First Woman in Climate Science Beat One of Its Founders to a Major Finding

By Carly Cassela via ScienceAlert

This September, as the world takes a stand on climate change like never before, let's spare a thought for those who helped set the stage. The history of climate science stretches back nearly two hundred years, and in all that time, few women have been memorialised in the discipline.

Just ten years ago, Eunice Foote was a name and face all but forgotten, but in 2019, on her 200th birthday, a handful of scientists are determined to keep her memory alive.


Read more at

https://www.sciencealert.com/a-feminist-and-amateur-scientist-beat-one-of-climate-science-s-founding-fathers-to-a-discovery

235th AAS Meeting Carbon Offsets

Learn more about how you can contribute up to $100 towards the purchase of carbon offsets to offset your travel to the 235th AAS Meeting in Hawaii in January here

https://aas.org/meetings/aas235/events#contributions

Simply select 'Contribute up to $100 to the purchase of carbon offsets' when you register for additional events.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

AAS Board Reflections: James Lowenthal

In order to familiarize the astronomy community with the AAS Board and encourage participation, the CSWA created a Reflection Survey for outgoing AAS Board members to complete after their terms ended in June. Over the coming weeks, we will feature the responses we've received on the Women in Astronomy blog. Enjoy!

James Lowenthal is Mary Elizabeth Moses Professor and Chair of Astronomy at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. He received his BS in Physics and Astronomy from Yale in 1986 and his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Arizona in 1991. He did postdoctoral work at the Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore and as a Hubble Fellow at the University of California Santa Cruz. He studies the formation and evolution of galaxies, especially actively star-forming galaxies at high redshift, seen as they were when the Universe was less than 10% its current age. He uses Hubble Space Telescope, the Keck telescopes in Hawaii, and the Gemini telescopes in Chile and Hawaii. Through the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is a member of the graduate faculty, he also uses the 50-meter Large Millimeter Telescope in Mexico. He supervises Smith College undergraduate students in an ongoing exoplanet transit observing program using Smith’s own roof-top 16-inch telescope. He served as Vice President of the American Astronomical Society from 2016-2019 and serves on the AAS Sustainability Committee and the AAS Committee on Light Pollution, Radio Interference, and Space Debris. Lowenthal is active locally, nationally, and internationally in the movement to fight light pollution and protect the naturally dark night sky. He also works to promote education and action to stop climate change. He began his career as an amateur astronomer in New York City and rural Connecticut, grinding the mirror for his Newtonian 6-inch f/8 reflecting telescope at the Hayden Planetarium in the 1970’s. 40 years later, he still uses that telescope in his backyard in Northampton.


Name: James Lowenthal
Current Position: Mary Elizabeth Moses Professor and Chair, Department of Astronomy, Smith College
Degree, Year, Institution: PhD in Astronomy, 1991, University of Arizona
AAS Board office, term: Vice President, 2016-2019

Why did you choose to serve on the AAS Board?

Serving on the AAS Board is very interesting and rewarding. It’s not like lots of other academic committees, where members are serving because they have to; instead, everyone on the AAS Board truly wants to be there and to help the astronomical community. It’s a very committed, passionate, and competent bunch, and even though there are frequent disagreements over this policy or that, there is lots of mutual respect.

What was one (or more!) Board accomplishment(s) that you are proud of/excited about from your time in office?

  • I’m proud that we VPs, who organize the scientific content of the AAS meetings, continued to diversify those meetings, to the point where the plenary speakers at the Seattle meeting in January 2019 were more than 1/2 women, and of those, 3 were people of color. I also initiated a process to solicit nominations for plenary speakers from the AAS membership, to expand and diversify the pool further.
  • I did my best to keep two issues in front of the Board: climate change, and light pollution. Astronomers are in an important position to address both, and both affect all of us. I’m glad that the Board passed a statement calling for increased efforts to fight light pollution, and that the chair of the Sustainability Committee, which I founded as a Councilor in 2010, is now a member of the Strategic Assembly.
  • I worked hard to improve communication among the three VPs and to rationalize the process of planning the meetings, which is quite complicated. There was large turnover in the AAS meetings staff over the last few years, and good communication is always a challenge as well as a key component of success. Fortunately, the other VPs and the AAS staff were always fantastic: very professional, hard-working, good attitudes.

What was one (or more!) important thing(s) you saw come from the diversity committees during your term?

The revised Code of Ethics. This is an important document and set of policies, and the discussion at the Board level was always very serious and detailed and passionate.

Is there an initiative (or initiatives!) you hope that the AAS pursues or continues to pursue in the future?

Quickly assess the impact on astronomy of large constellations of low-earth satellites. If the impact is as large as now appears likely, the AAS should play a key role in raising public awareness and pushing for national and international dialog and regulation. But soon!

What advice do you have for continuing and incoming AAS Board members?

Sign up for the committees you care about most. Don’t rush to judgment, especially on emotionally-charged topics. Do speak up when you feel strongly about something.

What suggestions do you have for people who are considering serving on the AAS Board in the future?

Do it! It’s time very well spent both personally and professionally. You will be joining an illustrious list of past Council and Board members including most of the famous astronomers you know.

Friday, September 6, 2019

AASWomen Newsletter for September 06, 2019

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 06, 2019
eds: JoEllen McBride, Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Maria Patterson, and Alessandra Aloisi

[We have a *new email address* for receiving submissions to the newsletter: aaswomen_at_lists.aas.org. An editor will reply with a confirmation of receipt. Please update us in your contacts, and thank you for your submissions. --eds.]

Mary Ward, from item 6
This week's issues:

1. AAS Board Reflections: Stuart Vogel

2. Astrophysicist releases kids book Under the Stars: Astrophysics for Bedtime to inspire a passion for STEM

3. Women Scientists Form a Policy Advocacy Network in the Mid-Atlantic

4. Fifteen tips to make scientific conferences more welcoming for everyone

5. Survival Tips For Women In Tech: Who else is the only woman on their dev team?

6. Mary Ward: Feminist famous as the first person to be killed in a car accident

7. New data analysis proves science is sexist

8. All-female robotics team wins major awards while slashing stereotypes of women, Latinos in STEM

9. Girls Would do Better in Maths and Science Tests if Exams Were Made Longer, Study Finds

10. A better future for graduate-student mental health

11. Make science PhDs more than just a training path for academia

12. Job Opportunities

13. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter

14. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter

15. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

AAS Board Reflections: Stuart Vogel

In order to familiarize the astronomy community with the AAS Board and encourage participation, the CSWA created a Reflection Survey for outgoing AAS Board members to complete after their terms ended in June. Over the coming weeks, we will feature the responses we've received on the Women in Astronomy blog. Enjoy!

Stuart Vogel, PhD is a radio astronomer studying star formation and the interstellar medium in nearby galaxies. He was the director of Maryland’s radio astronomy group for more than ten years when they merged the BIMA and OVRO millimeter-wave arrays and built CARMA. Following that, he was astronomy department chair at Maryland for ten years.

Name: Stuart Vogel
Current Position: Professor, Department of Astronomy, University of Maryland
Degree, Year, Institution: PhD, 1983, UC Berkeley
AAS Board office, term: Councilor, then Trustee. 2017 - 2019




Why did you choose to serve on the AAS Board?

Serving on CSWA and presenting to the AAS Council/Board as original chair of the AAS new climate site visit committee, I came to appreciate the role of the Board in setting policy for AAS and the importance of advocacy on the Board. And I realized I did not know much about the AAS despite having been a member for over 30 years and figured serving on the Board would be a good way to learn (it was!).

What was one (or more!) Board accomplishment(s) that you are proud of/excited about from your time in office?

I’m quite happy about a number of actions taken by the Board during my time in office: Establishing the AAS Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion in Astronomy Graduate Education and approving the fantastic report developed by the task force; I think this has the potential to transform graduate education in astronomy and serve as a model for other fields. Developing the intersectional climate site visit program recommended by the 2015 Inclusive Astronomy conference, which I expect will launch in the Fall. Continuing to implement the Code of Ethics, for example by requiring disclosure for AAS prize winners and candidates for AAS volunteer leadership positions. In all these areas, I think astronomy (along with AGU) is helping to lead the STEM disciplines forward.

What was one (or more!) important thing(s) you saw come from the diversity committees during your term?

Most important was ongoing pressure on the Board to promote equity and inclusion. All the things mentioned above originated in the diversity committees.

Is there an initiative (or initiatives!) you hope that the AAS pursues or continues to pursue in the future?

We started to emphasize the importance of bystander intervention. I see bystander-intervention training workshops as helpful for providing the tools to actively stop harassment, indicating that everyone (especially those in senior positions) should step in to help, and modeling appropriate and inappropriate behavior. President Megan Donahue presented a great video on this in her opening remarks at the St Louis AAS meeting; I hope that there will be regular workshops offered and something to encourage participation, such as certification.

AAS needs a staff member such as a Chief Equity Officer charged with helping coordinate and implementing the many good things coming out of the diversity committees. For example, the Task Force on Diversity and Astronomy Graduate Education has many great recommendations, but many of these (such as the website where departments can share their practices and accomplishments in promoting equity) will require a dedicated AAS staff member to follow through.

I hope the recent acquisition of Sky & Telescope by AAS can be used to communicate the astronomical community vision for the future (e.g. the AAS 2020 decadal report) and encourage broader participation by underrepresented minorities in the astronomical profession.

What advice do you have for continuing and incoming AAS Board members?

Communicate with other Board members including between meetings to help build consensus.

What suggestions do you have for people who are considering serving on the AAS Board in the future?

It’s a great opportunity to make a difference, and more so as the AAS volunteer leadership transitions from a Council of nearly 20 members to a Board of just 11 members. Previously, there was an Executive Committee consisting of just the six officers of the AAS which conducted most of the business since the Council met only two times per year. Now there is no Executive Committee and instead the Board “meets” much more frequently, with four face to face meetings per year and monthly telecons. With a much smaller Board and no Executive Committee, Board members can have much more influence and impact than Councilors did.

Friday, August 30, 2019

AASWomen Newsletter for August 30, 2019

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Barbie introduced two new dolls to their Inspiring Women series on Monday: Sally Ride and Rosa Parks. (Credit: Huffpost)
AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of August 30, 2019
eds: JoEllen McBride, Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Maria Patterson, and Alessandra Aloisi

This week's issues:

1. AAS Board Reflections: Christine Jones

2. Dr. Martha P. Haynes, Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, to receive the 2019 Bruce Gold Medal

3. In Support of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory

4. Did this Woman Really Discover What ‘the Universe is Made of’?

5. Rosa Parks And Sally Ride Are Getting Their Very Own Barbies

6. 'Mission Mangal' Tells the True Story of the Women Behind India's First Mission to Mars

7. A 24-year-old entrepreneur was bored in science class – so she started this company

8. Fall research symposium at New York University

9. Younger scientists need better support

10. The Publications Arms Race

11. Female-free speaker list causes PHP show to collapse when diversity-oriented devs jump ship

12. Biased Evaluation Committees Promote Fewer Women

13. More Birthdays Needed for the AAS Wall Calendar

14. Job Opportunities

15. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

16. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

17. Access to Past Issues of the AASWOMEN newsletter

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

AAS Board Reflections: Christine Jones

In order to familiarize the astronomy community with the AAS Board and encourage participation, the CSWA created a Reflection Survey for outgoing AAS Board members to complete after their terms ended in June. Over the coming weeks, we will feature the responses we've received on the Women in Astronomy blog. Enjoy!


Photo by Todd Buchanan © 2018 AAS/CorporateEventImages

Christine Jones, PhD is a senior astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She is currently the past president of the American Astronomical Society and the director of the Smithsonian Institution's Consortium for Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe. She earned her Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1974 from Harvard and has made significant contributions to the field of high energy astrophysics through her work on X-ray emission from early-type galaxies.





Name: Christine Jones
Current Position: Senior Astrophysicist, Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Degree, Year, Institution: PhD 1975 Harvard University
AAS Board office, term: AAS President 2016 - 2018 (President Elect 2015-2016; Past President 2018-2019); AAS Vice President 2008-2011; AAS Councilor 1989-1992

Why did you choose to serve on the AAS Board?

As the governing body of the American Astronomical Society, the AAS Board serves several important functions for our profession. Each time I was asked to be a candidate for an AAS office, I felt honored to be asked and thought I would be able to contribute to our profession by serving on the Board.

What was one (or more!) Board accomplishment(s) that you are proud of/excited about from your time in office.

The AAS Vice Presidents are in charge of organizing the Summer and Winter AAS meetings. While I was AAS Vice President, two new Prize lectures were introduced. These were the Kavli Lecture and the Lancelot-Berkeley Lecture. In the fall, before the first Kavli Lecture was to be given in January 2011, the Vice Presidents met at the AAS Offices in Washington DC to plan the meeting. That was when we realized that, unlike other AAS Prize lectures (e.g. the Russell lecture) where nominations are submitted and a committee specific tor that prize chooses the prize lecture, similar procedures had not been put in place for the Kavli or the Lancelot-Berkeley Lectures. Since there was not sufficient time to solicit nominations and establish a prize committee to review these for the January 2011 lectures, the Vice Presidents proposed that we should make the decision of choosing who would give the Kavli and the Lancelot Berkeley Prize Lectures. We agreed that Carolyn Porco, the PI of the Cassini mission to Saturn would be an outstanding first Kavli Prize Lecturer and that Bill Borucki and Dave Koch would be outstanding as the inaugural Lancelot Berkley Lecturers. Since that time the AAS Vice Presidents have had the responsibility of choosing both the Kavli and the Lancelot Berkeley Prize Lecturers.

When I was incoming AAS President in 2015, a committee of Dara Norman, Jack Burns and I drafted the AAS Code of Ethics that all AAS members agree to abide by when they renew their membership, attend an AAS or Divisional conference, publish in AAS journals, or serve on AAS committees, task forces or working groups. I believe that the existence of this policy, as well as the AAS Anti-Harassment Policy, has helped to inform our members of what is and isn't appropriate behavior. These policies allow our members to enjoy an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. As stated on the AAS website, "The AAS is dedicated to the philosophy of equality of opportunity and treatment of all members..." As AAS President I was involved in both the AAS Ethics committee and helped to review incidents that were reported under the anti-harassment policy.

Just a month after I became AAS President in 2016, I testified before a Congressional Committee. In addition to the testimony, I wrote a 10 page long paper primarily about AAS activities which became part of the Congressional Record. There is an article about this on the AAS web site.

When I became AAS President in 2016, the AAS membership had just adopted a new Governance policy. Under the prior AAS Governance, the full Council met face-to-face twice a year, before each of the AAS meetings. The AAS Executive Committee, which was composed of five members, all of whom were members of the AAS Council, had an additional two meetings each year. Any decisions that were not made during the two full Council meetings, were made by the Executive Committee. Under the new AAS Governance policy, the Board of Trustees (which was the Council) meets four times a year for face-to-face meetings and holds monthly telecons. This means that all members of the Board of Trustees are involved in making decisions that affect the AAS. This change has had a very important effect on AAS governance. All the members of the Board of Trustees are not just knowledgable about decisions made by the AAS, but are engaged in making the decisions that affect our Society.

What was one (or more!) important thing(s) you saw come from the diversity committees during your term?

When I was President-elect there was a meeting of members of the AAS Diversity Committees at the AAS headquarters in Washington, DC. This meeting gave the Diversity Committee members a chance to begin to have a dialogue addressing common issues and beginning to think about future actions the committees could take. I also called each of the chairs of the Diversity committees and talked with them about their priorities and what I could do to help them accomplish those goals. To follow on these activities, and continue the conversations that were started at when the Diversity Committees met in Washington, while I was President, at each of the AAS meetings I would invite members of the AAS diversity committees to meet together on one of the evenings during the meeting in my hotel suite. This gave the committees a chance to talk informally with each other and learn what each of the diversity committees was planning for the future, and how the committees could work together. Also, the AAS Committee on the Status of Women held the Women in Astronomy IV conference in Austin, Texas following the 2017 summer AAS meeting. I gave an opening welcome to the conference members.

Is there an initiative (or initiatives!) you hope that the AAS pursues or continues to pursue in the future?

While the AAS Executive Office is very supportive of the AAS committees and the membership, it is the various AAS committees and the Board of Trustees that define and pursue different initiatives. (These also include the many advisory and standing committees. This list is from the AAS web site). I saw part of my role as AAS President to help the AAS committees achieve their goals and to help the different Diversity committees to interact with each other.

With the reduction in the size of the AAS Board of Trustees, neither the publications chair or the education officer are currently members of the Board of Trustees. The publication of astronomical results through the Astrophysical Journal and the Astronomy Journal is among the most important functions of the AAS. It's important that the AAS Board of Trustees continue to have regular updates from the Editor in Chief of all the AAS publications (Ethan Vishniac). Also of great importance are the educational activities of the AAS members. While I was AAS President, the Education Committee, chaired by Charles Liu completed a comprehensive report on the status of astronomy education including a number of recommendations and a collection of white papers by members of the community. It is important that the Board continue to review progress in achieving the recommendations made by the education task force.

What advice do you have for continuing and incoming AAS Board members?

The AAS Board members that I had the privilege of working with were all hard-working and very committed to the success of our Society. While some Board members have specific duties (e.g. the Vice Presidents organize the AAS meetings), other Trustees have more time to focus on other specific areas (e.g. undergraduate and graduate education in astronomy, diversity in our Society.) I would urge the newly elected members of the Board to think about what they would like to accomplish during their terms. I also would urge current Board members to talk with the incoming members about ongoing AAS initiatives and involve them in these efforts.

What suggestions do you have for people who are considering serving on the AAS Board in the future?

I would recommend that people who are considering serving in the future on the AAS Board talk with one or two astronomers who have served on the Board in the recent past, especially in the position that they are interested in. Those considering serving on the Board, especially in some offices, should be aware that it can be a substantial commitment of time, so it is important that your "real" job will allow you the time to fulfill your AAS responsibilities. For newly elected Board members, I would suggest they learn as much as possible about the different functions of the Board, particularly the areas where they are most interested in working. Finally expressing these interests to the AAS President who assigns Board members to the various AAS committees is very useful.

Friday, August 23, 2019

AASWomen Newsletter for August 23, 2019

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of August 23, 2019
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Maria Patterson, JoEllen McBride, and Alessandra Aloisi

This week's issues:

1. AAS Board Reflections: Adam Burgasser
2. What's Up With MeTooSTEM?
Bearded Lady Scientists
Image by Kelsey Vance (2017)
3. Ten simple rules for a successful remote postdoc 
4. Girls Who Code CEO: Men Need to Be Brave in the Service of Women 
5. Women in STEM college programs under attack for male discrimination 
6. Berkeley FEMALE profs wear BEARDS to protest alleged gender bias
7. If NASA Wants to Land the 1st Woman on the Moon, Her Spacesuit Better Fit
8. Why Equal Access to the Academic Stage is Still an Upward Battle
9. Peer reviewers need a code of conduct too
10. Job Opportunities
11. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
12. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
13. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

AAS Board Reflections: Adam Burgasser

In order to familiarize the astronomy community with the AAS Board and encourage participation, the CSWA created a Reflection Survey for outgoing AAS Board members to complete after their terms ended in June. Over the coming weeks, we will feature the responses we've received on the Women in Astronomy blog. Enjoy!

Our first participant in our AAS Board Reflections project is Adam Burgasser, PhD. Dr. Burgasser is a professor in the department of Physics at UC San Diego, and an observational astrophysicist, whose research interests include the lowest mass stars, low-temperature brown dwarfs, and extrasolar planets. He also conducts research in Physics Education and Art-Science collaboratories. Adam received his PhD in Physics at Caltech, followed by a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Los Angeles, and a Spitzer Postdoctoral Fellowship at the American Museum of Natural History. He was on the faculty at MIT before coming to UC San Diego in 2009, where he directs the Cool Star Lab. Adam is committed to addressing inequities in Physics and Astronomy, and has served as member and Chair of the American Astronomical Society Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy, co-organized the 2015 Inclusive Astronomy Conference, and co-directs the UCSD-Morehouse-Spelman UC-HBCU Physics Pathways program, among other activities. He has also served on the AAS Board of Trustees. He has been awarded UC San Diego’s Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action & Diversity Award, Outstanding Mentor Award, and Distinguished Teaching Award. Dr. Burgasser is a member of the International Astronomical Union, American Astronomical Society, National Society of Black Physicists, and SACNAS.

Name: Adam Burgasser
Current Position: Professor, UC San Diego
Degree, Year, Institution: PhD, 2001, Caltech
AAS Board office, term: Board member, 2016-2019

Why did you choose to serve on the AAS Board?

I was very interested in both understanding how an organization like the AAS worked, and to be both a voice and an activist for making our community more inclusive. The AAS has played a significant role in my own career, from connecting me to a network of scientists - and friends - to enabling me to share and learn about what’s happening in my field. But I had only a small understanding of how the Society actually functioned, and particularly how decisions were made, so this was an important learning experience for me. I had served as the CSMA Chair before my Board service, and we had had disagreements between our Committee and the AAS governance at large, so I felt it important to try to change things “from the inside”, or at least better understand why some issues (e.g., police violence targeting black men) seemed to be avoided by the Society leadership. I think I made some progress on both fronts.

What was one (or more!) Board accomplishment(s) that you are proud of/excited about from your time in office?

I was (and still am!) involved in the Ethics working group. This long-term committee follows an initial task force formed by former AAS President Meg Urry to establish better policies and procedures for addressing a range of issues, from harassment and bullying to inappropriate publication practices to establishing reasonable guidelines of ethical behavior among scientists. It’s important to remember that this effort started soon after several high-profile cases of sexual harassment, but there are all kinds of incidents and interactions that don’t get that kind of attention but can nevertheless be devastating personally or professionally. This effort is a work in progress, but we have learned a lot (with much input from the community) on the importance of appropriate transparency, accessibility, communication, and timely response to incidents; as well as how individual ethics violations are embedded in the climate of the Society, structural discrimination, practices of remediation and restoration, etc. This work has been both intellectually stimulating and personally important to me, and I am proud that the AAS is a leading the effort to establish norms of ethical practice for scientific organizations.

This is a very specific thing, but I was also very proud to play a role in arranging Ka’iu Kimura’s plenary presentation on A Hua He Inoa at the 233rd AAS in Seattle in January 2019. It is so important to remind our community that we don’t work in a vacuum - well, maybe our space telescopes do! This means both recognizing Astronomy as a cultural practice and by definition a diversity of practices; and also that the practice of Astronomy affects people around the world, both positively and negatively, and in ways we might never imagine. Ka’iu’s talk was a reminder that to be inclusive in our science is to acknowledge the contributions from many cultures, disciplines, people, and places.

What was one (or more!) important thing(s) you saw come from the diversity committees during your term?

My term started soon after the Inclusive Astronomy 2015 conference and Nashville recommendations, and it was great to see some of those recommendations become reality within the AAS organization. In particular, WGAD came into existence and has been exceptionally active in making astronomy more accessible to all. I retained my committee membership with CSMA (as their Board representative), and this committee has seen a real resurgence in young, brilliant minds taking action to address the barriers our minority colleagues continue to face. This includes invigorated relationships with SACNAS and NSBP, and a lot more attention to the mental health of “young” (including undergraduates, graduates, postdocs and junior faculty) astronomers of color, thanks in large part to the current co-chair Nicole Cabrera-Salazar. Finally, we had a lot more communication between the diversity committees through shared reps, and I think that helped coordinate some of our activities and goals (e.g., the Women in Astronomy IV conference in 2017 felt much more inclusive of intersectional issues).

Is there an initiative (or initiatives!) you hope that the AAS pursues or continues to pursue in the future?

In addition to the Ethics work described above, I am encouraged that the AAS is making efforts to support young career astronomers in pursuing a broader range of careers. As a graduate student, it was made clear to me that not becoming a professor was considered a “failure” in terms of career, but this is a pernicious myth. There are far more rewarding, important, and remunerative jobs in both the private and public sectors that our training is well suited for. To support these, there are aspects of career preparation that we can do better, and we need to ensure that employers understand the value of an Astronomy degree. Another issue is that our system has become one of “postdoc holding pattern” between PhD and career position - for up to a decade or more! - which is extremely disruptive, particularly for families. We need to develop a system that gives young astronomers more permanent career options sooner and eliminates “professor” or “faculty” as status symbols.

I also hope the AAS will continue to work with our collaborative coding community (e.g., astropy, dot-astronomy, etc.) to support these efforts, which have become so important to the research and teaching activities in our community.

Incidentally, these issues - and others - are very well covered in the recent state of the profession white paper contributions to the Astro2020 decadal survey, and I encourage both the AAS - and readers of this post! - to read these and advocate for positions that will improve our community.

What advice do you have for continuing and incoming AAS Board members?

The best advice I can pass on was given to me by Dara Norman, who was outgoing from the Board when I came in: “Your time will be surprisingly short, so choose one or maybe two important objectives and focus on those”. I also recognize that, even after leaving the Board, I have many opportunities to advance our Society through its various committees; the Board is not the only place to have an impact.

What suggestions do you have for people who are considering serving on the AAS Board in the future?

This is a good way to see how the Society works from the inside, and (in small ways) steer the ship to assure it serves the community well and succeeds as an organization. It is a real learning experience in leadership, so I encourage early- and mid-career folks to consider serving. It is also a reasonable level of commitment: monthly phone meetings and in-person meetings at the conferences, plus a day or two per month of work outside the meetings. Plus you learn a lot more about the resources and opportunities that the Society provides; e.g., the WorldWide Telescope, book publication, etc.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for doing this! It helps make the governance of the AAS much more transparent.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Happy 100th Birthday Margaret Burbidge!

AP Photo | Annie Gracy [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

August 12 is the 100th birthday of Dr. Margaret Burbidge. Her contributions to the field of astronomy include verifying nucleosynthesis in stars, measuring redshifts to some of the first quasars, and helping develop the Faint Object Spectrograph onboard the Hubble Space Telescope &emdash among many others. In 1971, Margaret Burbidge refused to accept the AAS Council's Cannon Prize because "the prize, available only to women, was in itself discriminatory." The Council's response was to set up a committee, the "Special Committee on the Cannon Prize," which not only dealt with this issue but also recommended that the AAS review the status of women in astronomy. These events were the catalyst that started the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy (CSWA).

Dr. Burbidge impacted astronomy in so many ways. She is not only a brilliant researcher but also an inspiration to future astronomers. Today, the CSWA is honoring Dr. Burbidge by sharing stories that show her impact in advancing both discovery and community in the field of astronomy.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Summary of the Symposium Honoring Vera Rubin

By Jessica L. Rosenberg

A symposium honoring the legacy of Vera Rubin was held at Georgetown University June 24-26, 2019. Rubin, who passed away in 2016, was a pioneer in astronomy who used measurements of the rotation curves of galaxies to infer the presence of large amounts of matter out to their observed edges. She found that her measurements of the motion of stars around the centers of the galaxies implied the existence of an unknown type of matter, now called dark matter, in amounts exceeding that of the observed matter.