Introducing Jennifer Grier

Hello Astrofolks! – I’m Dr. Jennifer Grier, a Senior Scientist and Education/Communications Specialist at the Planetary Science Institute (HQ Tucson, AZ).  My formal education is in the sciences, with a B.S. in Astronomy and a Ph.D. in Planetary Sciences, but I also have 25 years of experience working in science education and outreach.  Some science stuff I’ve done: determined the relative ages of lunar rayed craters through optical maturity of ejecta, dated channels on Mars with crater statistics, found the ages of thermal impact events on asteroids by isotopic examination of meteorites, and estimated the time of formation of the Gardnos impact structure on Earth.  Some of my specific education work has included:  partnering with school systems to develop astronomy curricula, working with science museums to verify exhibit content, professional development workshops for teachers and scientists in education and outreach, and also teaching online/university/community college classes.  My current interests include inclusion and equity in STEM careers, the ethics of space exploration, and mental health/disability issues in the sciences.  If not doing those things then I’m doing creative writing, such as poetry, essays, fiction, articles and more – my works in progress include a collection of creepy childhood horror poems and a space opera novel trilogy.  And that book of essays about the alchemy of science and writing …
You can find my musings and other info in various places like:
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Introducing Bryan Méndez

Bryan Méndez is an astronomer & education specialist at UC Berkeley’s Space Science Laboratory. Dr. Méndez works to educate and inspire others about the wonder and beauty of the Universe. He develops programs for the public through the web and museums; develops educational resources for students, teachers, and the public; conducts professional development for science educators; and teaches courses in astronomy and physics at UC Berkeley and local community colleges.

 The beautiful night sky in his hometown of Traverse City, Michigan inspired Bryan to study astronomy. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1997 with degrees in Astronomy, Physics, and Music. He then continued his studies at the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in 2002 with a Ph.D. in Astrophysics. Dr. Méndez researched the distribution of galaxies in the nearby Universe and its implications for the overall structure of the Cosmos.

He is husband to his best friend and love of his life, father of the most precious twin boys in all the cosmos, a sci-fi/fantasy geek with particular obsessions for Star Wars and Star Trek, a saxophonist, an aspiring filmmaker, and a Californian transplanted from Michigan. Bryan is bicultural, of Mexican and European backgrounds, and strives to foster diverse perspectives in his work.

Introducing Mary Beth Laychak

Mary Beth Laychak is the Outreach Program Manager at the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Mary Beth has an undergraduate degree in astronomy and astrophysics from Penn State University and a masters degree in educational technology from San Diego State.  Her passions include astronomy, sharing astronomy with the public and astronomy based crafts.

Reintroducing Edward Gomez

Since childhood I have been fascinated by astronomy. When I realised that I could use maths and computers to do fun things with astronomy, I knew I was hooked for life. I never grew out of it and now I am lucky enough to be a professional astrophysicist. As part of my role with Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT) I try to find novel ways to engage the public in science by using astronomy. This has taken the form of creating citizen science projects like Agent Exoplanet, interactive educational web apps like Star in a Box, and online community events like Show Me Stars.

The global education hub for LCOGT is based in Cardiff University where I am an honourary lecturer/adjunct faculty in the School of Physics and Astronomy. One of the enjoyably parts of this position is supervising BSc. and MPhys. level undergraduate projects. This year I had 4 project students investigating extrasolar planets. I am very proud that 2 of my former project students have gone on to do PhDs.

In addition, I am part of the Schools Engagement Team and assist with the outreach of the University. We have recently been awarded funding by the Welsh Government’s National Science Academy to run the programme Universe in the Classroom, inspiring children and teachers with Universe in a Box kits and stellar role models, across Wales. Universe in the Classrom is run in partnership with the international project Universe Awareness.

I co-chair the IAU task force for children and schools, under the guidance of the Office of Astronomy for Development (OAD). Our aim is to help people in astronomically developing countries to engage with and inspire children and teachers.

I regularly appear on the BBC radio wales programmes, Science Cafe and Eleri Sion Show. I have served as guest judge for the national Debating Matters competition. Engaging with the public is fun and I have been lucky enough to do it in several pubs with Ignite Cardiff and Bright Club.

Being a life long fan of Doctor Who, I’ve been delighted to have give Science of Doctor Who talks in St Louis Science Center, and Cardiff Museum.

Currently I am working at how we make the LCOGT global telescope network exciting and accessible to a diverse audience, and what tools we need to make the most of its potential. What particularly concerns me is using the power of astronomy to inspire people who would not normally be interested in science.

I love music and play the lute. Part of me thinks that makes me closer to a renaissance astronomer, like Galileo.

You can find my blog over at Dark Matter Sheep, where I talk about science, music, films, coding, and silly things.

Introducing Amanda Bauer

This week features  Amanda Bauer.  Amanda is a research astronomer and outreach officer at the Australian Astronomical Observatory (AAO) based in Sydney, Australia. She started this 50/50 role one year ago and is still exploring how to maximise both research and science communication without working WAY too much!

Her research explores variations in how galaxies form, how they live their lives, and how they evolve into the diverse array of galaxy species we see today.  She uses surveys with thousands or hundreds of thousands of galaxies, like GAMA and the SAMI Galaxy Survey, to investigate what physical processes regulate star formation inside galaxies that live in different cosmic environments.

Her passion for science communication through her personal @astropixie account has lead to her ability to do this as 50% of her official job. As the first outreach officer at the AAO, she is developing a strategy to capture and communicate the excitement of new astronomical discoveries and innovative engineering feats occurring within the AAO and the astronomical community.

Introducing Edward Gomez

This week features Edward Gomez. Edward is the education director for Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network. As part of this role, he is making a telescope control web interface for education observing programmes run by LCOGT and its partners. He is interested in making innovative ways for people to use LCOGT’s robotic telescopes for education and science communication. His research interests are in stellar winds and Near Earth Objects. Edward normally tweets at @zemogle.

Introducing Tom Rice

Tom Rice is a second-year astronomy PhD student at the University of Michigan. His research focuses on the environments in which stars and planets are born, and he’s currently working on creating the first catalog of star-forming molecular clouds throughout the Milky Way. In the past, he’s studied how the infrared brightness of young, disked stars changes over time, and for his PhD thesis plans to study the role of nitrogen astrochemistry in planetary formation, with his advisor Ted Bergin.
Tom is an Oregon native and attended Harvard as an undergrad. As a child of deaf adults (CODA), Tom grew up speaking American Sign Language (ASL) alongside English bilingually, and aspires to develop astronomy curricula in ASL for education and outreach to Deaf youth. Tom tweets at @tomr_stargazer when not astro-tweeping, is an avid stargazer and occasional guitarist, and only listens to the Mountain Goats.