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Interview with Dr. Miriam Rengel: Identify professional and personal goals, monitor them and work hard to reach them!

December 1, 2014

Miriam RengelDr. Miriam Rengel is an astrophysicist with a wide range of topical interests. She studies solar system objects at the far-IR and submm wavelengths (planetary atmospheres and small bodies), protostars and young stellar objects. She also conducts space based observations and related science on instruments onboard the Herschel Space Observatory, and sub-millimeter ground-based observations. She is involved in two key Herschel programs called “Water and related Chemistry in the Solar System” and “TNOs are Cool“.

She is also a collaborating scientist at the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far Infrared (HIFI) Instrument Control Center (ICC), for the HIFI onboard the Herschel Space Observatory. In addition to conducting research, she also participates in the preparation and data analysis focused on HIFI calibration (responsibilities include test software campaigns, creation and maintenance of documentation for astronomers, and investigations of quality assessment of final products with HIFI). During 2005-2007 she applied her capacities and skills for cometary studies with the OSIRIS instrument onboard Rosetta (which has just successfully placed a lander on a comet for the first time), that also included calibration activities. She has led several observational programs in world-wide facilities (e.g. IRAM30m, APEX, SMT, SEST, JCMT, SMA). She has participated in observing runs at the 2-m Schmidt telescope at the TLS Landessternwarte Tautenburg (Germany), at the 1‐m Schmidt telescope at the Venezuelan National Astronomical Observatory, and in the 2.2m telescope on Calar Alto, Spain.

Check out Miriam’s website, where you can find more information about her work and pictures of some of the many telescopes she has worked at ☺.

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Dr. Christina Viviano-Beck: “Be nice to people, and conduct yourself professionally and your science responsibly – it matters”.

November 24, 2014

Interview conducted by Dr. Lynnae Quick:

CBeck_picDr. Christina Viviano-Beck is a Staff Scientist in the Planetary Exploration Group at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).  I first met Dr. Christina Viviano-Beck while finishing up my dissertation at APL (she was gracious enough to share an office with a then-grad student! :).  She works on the CRISM instrument, specializing in visible/near-infrared and thermal infrared spectroscopy, and the geology of Mars. Her interests lie in understanding the evolution of Mars over time, and the environments that existed during the early history of Mars, as preserved in the rock record.


Recent Publication:

Viviano-Beck, C., Seelos, F., Murchie, S. Kahn, E., Seelos, K. Taylor, H. Taylor, K., Ehlmann, B., Wisemann, S., Mustard, J. and Morgan, M. F. (2014), Revised CRISM spectral parameters and summary products based on the currently detected mineral diversity on Mars, JGR-Planets, 119(6), 1403-1431.


1.  How did you first become interested in planetary science?

My grandparents on my mom’s side were science oriented – my grandmother was a science teacher and my grandfather had a landscape business (and a degree in forestry).  So growing up, many of our family visits would include small experiments in the kitchen and exploring the outdoors.  My siblings and I would spend our summer vacations trying to find brachiopods washed up along my grandparents’ cottage shore on Lake Erie.  The encouragement for exploration and uninhibited curiosity during those visits stuck with me.  I took to math and physics in school and was encouraged by my parents to pursue that interest.  After taking my first astronomy and geology courses in college, I knew a more multidisciplinary approach to science would appeal to me.  I had to test out the field quite a bit to find my niche.  I think my motto must have been “try everything!” I counted and classified diatoms in Antarctic sediments, I characterized seismic activity in Colorado, and finally I took my first remote sensing course on a semester abroad in Australia.  I absolutely loved playing around with the images in ENVI and realized if I could somehow merge this with my interest in space/physics/geology it would be a winning combination.  And lo-and-behold there was an actual discipline called planetary science.

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Opportunity to participate in the NSF Grad Forum

November 21, 2014
Calling all graduate students!
You are invited to participate in the new NSF Grad Forum, which is soliciting experiences and opinions of grad students regarding the improvement of STEM education in the U.S. There are several separate threads, including “Diversity and Broadening Participation”, which would greatly benefit from the voices of non-majority groups.
You can make a difference!

Congrats to the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science Fellowship Winners!

November 18, 2014

L’Oréal USA Announced the winners of the Women in Science Fellowship.  Fantastic science including some exciting astrophysics! :)  Congrats to all!  (And this is a yearly thing so look out for the application next year and think about applying!)

Sabrina Stierwalt, University of Virginia – Dr. Stierwalt is an astrophysicist leading a multi-university team on ground-breaking research to understand how galaxies were formed. Stierwalt has been committed to promoting STEM education throughout her career, including her time as co-founder of the Graduate Women in Physics at Cornell and her current role as a volunteer teacher for Dark Skies, Bright Kids, an afterschool program for underserved rural students.

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What *not* to wear

November 14, 2014

We’ve probably all seen the fallout from #shirtstorm and #shirtgate regarding the inappropriate shirt Dr. Matt Taylor wore during the landing of the Rosetta comet lander this week.

If you are not familiar with this, though, please check out the following webpages:

What the eff is that shirt?, Why I’m furious…, Astro-sexism, and Shirt Uproar, among many others.
It should be noted that Dr. Taylor did change his shirt later in the day and recently apologized for his decision to wear this shirt.
However, the larger questions are why he thought it was appropriate to wear it (to work, BTW) in the first place and why ESA officials didn’t acknowledge his poor choice either.
We welcome your feedback either here or on the WIPS Facebook page.

New List of Awards – Nominate Deserving Scientists!

November 10, 2014

From Emily Lakdwalla:

Before women can be recognized for their contribution to planetary science and astronomy, they have to be nominated. Anecdotal evidence suggests that women may not be getting nominated for prizes very frequently. To encourage people to nominate more women for prizes, I asked Planetary Society web intern and fellow Woman in Planetary Science Tanya Harrison to scrounge around the Web, locating information on what prizes are out there for Earth and planetary sciences and astronomy, when nominations are due, and what’s involved in nomination packages. She came up with a huge list, available to all in a Google Doc. The list includes prizes for any scientist, young scientists, mid-career scientists, end-of-career scientists, journalists, and those who serve the community as educators or advocates.

  • Award List (it should let you request permission to edit)

Some of the deadlines listed inside it are past; but most of these prizes are annual and one can assume that nominations will be due in
2015 at around the same calendar date that they were in 2014. Last year, GSA nominations were due February 1; AGU March 14; DPS on April 1.

If you know of other prizes, please edit!

From Kelsi:  One of the focuses of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is on helping female scientist achieve recognition.  You can see their resources here, and a fact sheet for some other scientific disciplines.  (Note they are redoing their website, so some resources are “coming soon” :).

New Article in EOS – Women Count by Dr. Dana Hurley

November 7, 2014
Dr. Dana Hurley – planetary scientist at the Applied Physics Lab – has recently published the following article and call to action in EOS.  Check out the article to see some good suggestions and stats.
A gender imbalance exists in science and is harmful to our community as a whole.  Awareness is one of the best techniques to combat bias. Therefore, if you are not actively thinking about diversity, you can be contributing unwittingly to the problem.  This article calls for making a conscience effort to consider diversity when assembling personnel for non-competed positions: Women Count, appearing in Eos, by Dana Hurley (JHU/APL). 
Eos Site
Article PDF 

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