Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Meet Your CSWA, Jeremy Bailin

Jeremy Bailin is an Associate Professor at the University of Alabama. His research involves galaxy formation using computer simulations, observations in the optical and radio, and phenomenological models. He is particularly interested in the outskirts of galaxies — stellar halos, circumgalactic medium, globular clusters, and satellite galaxies. He teaches courses from introductory astronomy to graduate astrophysics, and is involved in astronomy education research.

Jeremy joined the CSWA in 2019, and is particularly interested in how the CSWA’s mission plays out in university education (particularly in mid-range size institutions, where the most undergraduates encounter astronomy), and in LGBT+ issues.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

CSWA Resources for Astronomers

Image of the Milky Way in the sky.
In order to use our time effectively during the CSWA Meet and Greet panel at the 2020 Summer AAS Meeting, we conducted a survey to see what topics we would discuss. There were 14 concerns about being (or knowing) a woman and/or underrepresented minority in astronomy or planetary science (or another STEM field) that our respondents could choose. The top 10 concerns are listed below. The CSWA wanted to make sure that the community is aware of the resources available to them to approach some of these issues and others. Links to the relevant resource pages or blog posts are provided below if available.

Friday, July 17, 2020

The Fallout from COVID-19 on Astronomy’s Most Vulnerable Groups

Aparna Venkatesan (U. of San Francisco), Ed Bertschinger (MIT), Dara Norman (NOIRLab), Sarah Tuttle (U. of Washington, Seattle), Kelsie Krafton (AAS Bahcall Public Policy Fellow) 

Reaching to the stars
by Ares Nguyen via flickr
This has not been the year any of us envisioned. We are in the midst of a global pandemic that is still raging in many countries, including the U.S. For many of us in academe or higher education, the challenges of an unprecedented spring look likely to continue through most, if not all, of the next academic year. We attempt here to begin a discussion of the enormous and still-increasing fallout from COVID-19 and other national/global crises on astronomy as well as STEM. We began to write this post in mid-May but have had to continuously update it as numerous crises spanning many arenas have emerged.

AASWOMEN Newsletter for July 17, 2020

AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of July 17, 2020
eds: Heather Flewelling, Nicolle Zellner, Maria Patterson,
Alessandra Aloisi, and Jeremy Bailin

[We hope you all are taking care of yourselves and each other. Be well! --eds.]

This week's issues:

1. The Fallout from COVID-19 on Astronomy's Most Vulnerable Groups

2. A Celebration of Margaret Burbidge

3. Virtual Women in STEM event on tap at science center

4. How COVID-19 can bring gender justice

5. How the UAE’s Mars mission is changing life on Earth

6. She’s an Authority on Earth’s Past. Now, Her Focus Is the Planet’s Future.

7. New "Black Lives in Astronomy" Resource Guide and updated "Astronomy of Many Cultures" website

8. Trump administration rescinds rule on foreign students

9. The People of Color in Astronomy Listing You Should Know About

10. Increased representation of women, ethnic groups not enough to overcome biases in STEM

11. Unequal effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on scientists

12. How to Submit to the AASWOMEN newsletter

13. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWOMEN newsletter

14. Access to Past Issues

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Meet Central American-Caribbean Astronomy Bridge Program Fellows - Part 3

The Central American - Caribbean bridge in astrophysics is a program created to mentor and train the next generation of students in astrophysics from that region. This was created because there is an enormous lack of resources and research opportunities for students interested in astrophysics. We hold monthly webinars and invite a speaker every month to talk about their personal life, academic obstacles, and research. The goal is for the students to feel represented, motivated, and capable, especially women in our group. More recently, we began a remote REU-like internship where students are able to complete a mini-project within a four-month period. Last Fall 2019, we had four students from Costa Rica and Honduras who worked with professors from Mexico, Chile, and Brazil. This Spring 2020, we are working with three students from Honduras, Costa Rica, and El Salvador. This opportunity brings research opportunities to these students and connects them to potential advisors and PhD programs.

In this series, we will highlight selected fellows. If you'd like to learn more about the program and ways you can get involved please visit https://cencabridgeastro.weebly.com/

My name’s Valeria Hurtado, and I was raised in Managua, Nicaragua until the age of 17. When I was young I wanted to be a vet-ballerina-scientist-actress-athlete. So far, I have become one of those things. When I was in Nicaragua, I knew I was interested in the natural world and in applying the scientific method, but back then I didn’t know that those things were physics. However, becoming a scientist in a country in constant socio-political and economic unrest would have been a luxury too unrealistic for me to afford. Besides, the scientists I saw in popular science channels were definitely not Nicaraguan or women - so I never really considered astronomy as a career. Fortunately, I was a stubborn, rebellious, and unaware 16-year-old who decided to apply to competitive schools to study physics.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Crosspost: A Break-up Letter with Astronomy, From a Young Black Woman

Credit: ESA, NASA

By Lauren Chambers via Medium.com

Dear Astronomy,

It’s not me, it’s you.

I had intentions of leaving you for over 3 years, even before I finished my astronomy undergraduate degree. The original reason I cited for wanting to leave is that I felt I would never be fulfilled by the content of what a career in astronomy would look like. Spending a lifetime studying stars and galaxies while watching my neighbors suffer from structural inequalities — inequalities that I have studied rigorously and am capable of fighting against — felt irresponsible and selfish to me.

Make no mistake, I knew that I could have stayed with you and been successful if I wanted to. For those who need evidence to accept that claim: I graduated magna cum laude from Yale, winning departmental prizes for my research in both astronomy and African American studies, and won the American Astronomical Society’s Chambliss prize for an exceptional undergraduate research poster. I didn’t leave because I felt at all incompetent or insecure about my ability to be an astronomer. Nor was I pushed out — I was exceptionally lucky to have many supportive mentors in the field across multiple institutions, I never had a research experience that was anything short of delightful, and I (generally) enjoyed myself and felt welcomed during the two years that I worked as a software engineer for the James Webb Space Telescope mission at Space Telescope Science Institute.

Despite all this, I realize I have been kidding myself when I tell myself the only reason I left you was the inhumanity of your objects of study and my changing academic interests. It’s an easier pill to swallow for everyone — “it’s not us, it’s me.” But an even stronger force that turned me away was the inability of astronomers to be respectful community members, and to acknowledge the terrestrial effects of our celestial research.

Read the full letter at