Friday, September 30, 2022

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Crosspost: The Milky Way Speaks for Itself: An Interview With Moiya McTier

By Lorraine Boissoneault for HyperText Magazine

Dr. Moiya McTier is the author of The Milky Way, an autobiography of our galaxy told from the perspective of the galaxy itself. 

More than a decade ago, before getting swept into the maelstrom of high school, I went through a star-gazing phase. A Girl Scout summer camp program for astronomy was followed by nights on the deck of our sailboat, staring at the sky to identify constellations and other planets in our Solar System. One summer night while out on Lake Erie, the sky was so clear that the Milky Way was a vibrant white swathe splashed across the darkness. 

In more recent years, my nighttime musings have been marred by the light pollution over Chicago. But I still headed out to watch the lunar eclipse this past May, and have been thrilled to meet with an astrophysicist neighbor and use his telescope to spot nebulae. No matter where I am in the world or in my life, the night sky is enchanting. 

That’s something I share with Moiya McTier, a science communicator who brings her love of folklore and astrophysics to her new book, The Milky Way: An Autobiography of Our Galaxy. We talked about bringing fictional inspiration into complicated science, the dream of uniting science and the humanities, and all the ways that learning about the Milky Way can make us better humans.

You can pre-order a copy of The Milky Way here.

Read the full interview at: 

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Crosspost: The trailblazing career of Willie Hobbs Moore

By Ronald E. Micken for Physics Today

Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore was named one of the One Hundred 'Most Promising Black Women In Corporate America' in Ebony magazine's January 1991 issue. Credit: Ann Arbor News, February 4, 1991

There was a time when I believed that Shirley Ann Jackson, who received her PhD in physics from MIT in 1973, was the first African American woman to attain that degree. I realized that view was incorrect around 1984, when I learned that Willie Hobbs Moore (1934–94) finished her PhD in physics at the University of Michigan in 1972. At that time, for more than a decade I had been collecting data on African Americans with advanced degrees in physics—and had even published a list of Black physicists. Needless to say, learning about Moore came as a welcome surprise for me.

The fact that Moore received her degree from Michigan was of additional interest to me because of the long-standing connection between its physics department and that of Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee. While I was at Fisk, first as an undergraduate student in 1960–64 and later as a professor, the physics department had several faculty members who obtained their doctorates from Michigan, including Nelson Fuson in 1938, James Lawson in 1939, and Herbert Jones in 1959. Moreover, Elmer Imes, who received his BA and MA from Fisk in 1903 and 1915, respectively, became the second African American to earn his PhD in physics, from Michigan in 1918 (see my article in Physics Today, October 2018, page 28).

Read the rest of the article at:

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Crosspost: Expedition 67 Astronaut Jessica Watkins Talks with Stanford Magazine

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 67 Flight Engineer Jessica Watkins of NASA discussed life and work aboard the orbital outpost during an in-flight event September 7 with the Stanford University alumni magazine.  Watkins is in the midst of a science mission living and working aboard the microgravity laboratory. The goal of the mission is to advance scientific knowledge and demonstrate new technologies for future human and robotic exploration missions as part of NASA’s Moon and Mars exploration approach, including lunar missions through NASA’s Artemis program. 

Check out this incredible interview with Stanford University alum, martian geologist, and the first Black woman to participate in an ISS long-term space mission, Jessica Watkins! 

Friday, September 9, 2022

AASWOMEN Newsletter for September 9, 2022

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 9, 2022
eds: Jeremy Bailin, Nicolle Zellner, Alessandra Aloisi, and Sethanne Howard

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

This week's issues:

1. Career Profile: Prioritizing Your Goals and Dreams with Dr. Kelly Korreck
2. 51 Pegasi b Postdoctoral Fellowship
3. Soliciting 2023 ExoExplorer and ExoGuide applications
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4. Sexual harassment plagues Antarctic research  
5. Women STEM Faculty Are Paid Less For Their Research Productivity Than Men, New Study Suggests
6. The trailblazing career of Willie Hobbs Moore
7. Study finds students self-sort in active learning spaces, with potential to push women out
8. Job Opportunities 
9. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
10. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
11. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

An online version of this newsletter will be available at at 3:00 PM ET every Friday.


Thursday, September 8, 2022

Career Profile: Prioritizing Your Goals and Dreams with Dr. Kelly Korreck

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers, planetary scientists, etc. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

A person with shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes wearing a string of pearls standing in front of a gray background and smiling at the camera.

Dr. Kelly Korreck is an astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, working on understanding the Sun. She is the science Co-I (co-investigator) and head of science operations for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, as well as the project manager for the Solar Wind Electron Alpha and Proton (SWEAP) instrument.

How did you first become interested in physics/astronomy?

I was always interested in nature and science as a child. I loved the outdoors and loved to read. I read a lot as a child and focused on history and science. I was really interested in the Cold War (granted it was still going on when I was young). The use of science as a way to bridge communication between nations intrigued me. Being a voracious reader, I spent time in the science section of the library trying out books to do with NASA, the space program, far away galaxies, the planets in our solar system, and stars that explode—so many interesting pieces to explore!

I also have to give credit for my interest in astronomy to a sleepover with my girl scout troop at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. They had us doing science experiments with colors of stars, taught us about the constellations, and I got to sleep by their human heart exhibit (It is large enough that you can walk through it as if you were the blood flowing through the heart!) It was the best sleepover (don’t recall if I really slept) and really got me excited about learning about the universe via mini experiments and observations!

Describe the first time you made a personal connection with the universe.

My first personal connection with the universe was through nature. My family camped a lot when I was a child and I spent much time in a lake, exploring and looking for frogs or fish. One night, I remember the call of loons at night and looking up at the stars. I was a little scared, yet comforted at the same time by their call and the hugeness of the sky. It felt very personal. I felt connected to a larger universe and small at the same time.

What has your career path been like since graduating with your PhD, and/or how did you choose your current institution?

My path looks like I had a plan but I did not! I started off with a postdoc at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I was applying for faculty positions and other postdocs, but just not finding anything. I was encouraged to give a talk by one of my mentors and then we discussed alternative careers afterwards. At that talk, my future boss approached me about an opportunity to work with his group. I said “yes” and I kept saying “yes” to things! I worked on the Hinode X-ray Telescope team, a sounding rocket, and for most of the last decade, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe’s SWEAP instrument suite. During the pandemic and because Parker was steadily taking data, I was looking for a new challenge. I happened to hear about a position at NASA Headquarters for a Program Scientist rotation through the Intergovernmental Personnel Act (IPA). It was a great fit working on mentoring the next generation of heliophysicists, as well as working on exciting new missions like GLIDE, and heading up the NASA efforts for the 2023 Annular and 2024 Total Solar Eclipses!

What have been particularly valuable skills for your current job that you gained through completing your degree?

Although the technical parts of my degrees have served me well, the extracurricular activities and the seminar I attended on how to manage your thesis as a project was possibly the most widely applicable class I have taken. It taught me how to think of things in units and put the project unit to a schedule and assign resources. It has served me well in breaking down complex ideas into manageable ‘chunks’ and working through them to completion. This has helped me in both scientific research as well as managing rocket programs or instrument operations!

I also did many extracurricular activities such as working on large events for the university. That really comes in handy when you are trying to organize a bunch of folks to put together a scientific instrument!

How did you end up working in your field?

I really ended up working in the field because I kept persisting. There were many “nos'' along the way and I kept going and got to the “yeses”! It was about following what I found interesting and trying the next thing!

What are some of the challenges and rewards of working in your field?

There are definitely some great rewards! I have attended multiple rocket launches. I have the ability to travel widely to attend scientific meetings and have amazing colleagues all over the world. There is also the joy of discovering something new and of successfully launching an instrument into space!

Some of the challenges are limited time and money to do all the amazing projects I would like to work on and imposter syndrome that can really weigh me down if I don’t have folks around who support and believe in me.

How do you manage all of the different demands on your time? And/or how do you find time for your priorities outside of work?

Oooh, this is a lesson that I learned the hard way so I hope others can learn from it. I didn’t manage the demands and priorities well for about ten years. I focused on the next amazing conference and instrument, or paper and outreach event. Then, I realized that was not sustainable, so I tried to make very intentional and conscious choices. I followed some advice to put what matters most on my calendar first. I made sure to put in the dance or yoga classes I loved in my schedule and I blocked off weekends where I would not travel. I started shutting off my computer and my phone at 5:30 PM sharp and not checking until the next business day. I started getting eight hours of sleep and working out almost every day. All those little changes really added up to me being able to balance all the variety of things that I do in a day or week or month and made me much happier and more effective!

If you weren’t in your current field, what would you be doing?

I would probably be a paleontologist or in the foreign service working on international science policy and diplomacy.

Tell us about a favorite moment so far in your career.

There are many good ones! One of my favorites is spending time with Parker Solar Probe while she was in the clean room during integration and testing. We had finished testing for the day and were cleaning up. I just got to pause, take a deep breath, and realize this gorgeous satellite that was a mere six feet from me was going to be the closest human made object to the Sun one day. It is humbling to be that close to greatness!

Do you have any advice for students just starting their career in science?

Follow your own passion. There is no one path to ‘success’ in science. You get to define your success. And find little moments to rekindle that inspiration that brought you to science. Whether it is getting to code while rocking out to your favorite tunes or wrapping up all warm and going outside on a cold night and looking up at the stars, find little ways to remember the inspiration that got you here in the first place.

Describe your approach to job hunting, any networking resources you use, and any other advice/resources for early career professionals looking for positions in your field.

My approach has been to be curious and ask folks about what they are excited about at every chance I get. It helps me to know what folks are working on and what is new or up and coming in the field. I also have started asking who else I should talk to that might have interesting ideas. It is a good way to expand your network. I use LinkedIn for my networking as well as conferences.

One way I expanded my network when I was first starting out was seeking out senior scientists after their talk and asking them questions. I sent a follow up handwritten note to their office after the conference thanking them for their time. It was a way to really stand out and stay in touch.

What advice do you have for achieving work-life balance (including having a family)?

You will need to be intentional about it. Even the best, most family friendly workplace won’t know all your needs and what will work best for you, so lay out what you need and see how you can get some of your needs met. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and for time or flexibility to do what you and your family needs. There is no right or wrong time to do something that makes your heart sing, whether that is getting married, having kids, taking time to write a novel, taking a mental health day, and making sure your goals and dreams are a priority.

Friday, September 2, 2022

AASWomen Newsletter for September 2, 2022

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Dr. Kathryn Flanagan (Credit: STScI)
AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of September 02, 2022
eds: Jeremy Bailin, Nicolle Zellner, Alessandra Aloisi, and Sethanne Howard

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

This week's issues:

1. Kathryn Flanagan and the Vision Behind the James Webb Space Telescope

2. Meet the 2 SC women leading NASA teams for the Monday Artemis moon launch

3. Gender-diverse teams produce more novel, higher-impact scientific discoveries, study shows

4. In STEM Equality Is Evasive, But Progress Is Real

5. Maryland Is No. 1 in Best States for Gender Equality

6. Balancing act: You’re not alone on your tightrope

7. Men outnumber women by more than 2 to 1 in US federal science jobs

8. Women’s Equality Day – How can tech companies bridge the gender gap?

9. NRAO’s Central Development Laboratory to Launch New Women in Engineering Program

10. 2023 NASA Astrophysics Mission Design School (AMDS) Applications Due September 28, 2022

11. Conferences for Undergraduate Women in Physics 2023 - Applications Open

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

An online version of this newsletter will be available at at 3:00 PM ET every Friday.