This interview was conducted by David W. Brown, a freelance writer and contributor to The Week and Vox. He can be found online at http://dwb.io.
Dr. Beatrice E. A. Mueller was born in 1959 near Zurich in Switzerland. She studied physics with a minor in astrophysics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) from 1978-1983. Her diploma work was on International Ultraviolet Explorer data on a symbiotic star. She then spent a year working as a research assistant at the Institute for Astronomy at the ETH. She earned her Ph.D. at University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in 1989; her thesis was on the system GD1401—a white dwarf-red companion system. She did analysis and some modeling of the white dwarf spectrum. Read more…
The DPS meeting was full of many fabulous events this week, including a focus on combatting harassment. Although one could wish we did not have to talk about harassment because it was not happening, unfortunately it does happen… WAY TOO OFTEN!!!
For those who were not there, here is a summary of some of the ways harassment was addressed. I am sharing these as inspiration for continued discussion of this issue at future events.
Please share additional good ideas/conference best practices if you know of them (or if I forgot any from DPS!)
- In the next post I will give a summary of the Women in Planetary Science Lunch where Amy Simon gave an excellent talk packed with all sorts of advice for throughout your career stages. She also highlighted some of the hurdles women face, including harassment.
- Christina Richey was awarded the Harold Masursky award for meritorious service to the Planetary Science Community and delivered a moving and data-driven talk about the problem and the solutions surrounding harassment.
- An informal Men’s Auxiliary meeting was organized by Bob Pappalardo, David Grinspoon, and Andy Rivken to discuss harassment and ways to help change the culture.
- The AAS anti-harrassment policy was prominently displayed on the DPS meeting website, and there was talk about implementing a check-box for conference registration stating you are aware of the policy.
And many, many, more people showed support by attending the events, and in general being concerned about the problem.
Everyone would love more solutions, but I am EXTATIC that this issue is being talked about instead of whispered behind closed doors. Many people, including myself, are fed up with having traumatized friends, and are wondering what we can do to prevent people from experiencing harassment in the future. As Christina stated, the word-of-mouth/wisper culture is not enough to protect people in our field, so openly talking about the issue is a great first step towards showing harassers that they will be noticed, and they cannot as easily get away with repeat offenses.
Many people expressed a desire to help, and hopefully more ally workshops will take place in the future. Another great suggestion was to increase the number of trusted people that have extra training in both (1) the options open to people who have been harassed, and (2) emotional support. As of right now, the burden for helping those who have been harassed falls on a few people, and the need for help is sometimes overwhelming. For example, when a big story about harassment comes out, many go through PTSD remembering their own situations, thus creating a flood of people in need.
I know these have been shared before, but great resources on harassment and anti-harassment policies can be found on the CSWA website and their blog, the Women in Astronomy Blog.
SWRI also has an excellent anti-harassment policy they said I could share, so let me know if you would like a copy.
Spacepod is a new weekly outreach podcast produced and hosted by Dr. Carrie Nugent, a staff scientist at Caltech’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center. Episodes are a short (~15 min), relaxed conversation with a space explorer about our universe. Intended for the general public, the goal is to harness the informal, intimate medium of podcasting to communicate not only neat science, but the interesting and diverse personalities that make up our field. Several episodes (including upcoming episodes) feature women profiled on this blog.
Since launch in August, Spacepod has been steadily gaining listeners. The most popular episode has received more than 900 downloads, and Spacepod has been featured in iTunes’ “New and Noteworthy” category. A reviewer says, “This podcast is like having a drink with a really smart friend.”
To listen to episodes, visit the website [www.listentospacepod.com], or subscribe on iTunes [https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/spacepod/id1025470195]. Spacepod also has its own twitter account @listen2spacepod.
Dr. Linda French is Professor of Physics and past Chair of the Physics Department at Illinois Wesleyan University, where she has been a professor since 2002. She received her A.B. in astronomy from Indiana University and a Ph. D. in planetary astronomy from Cornell University. Her scientific research, funded by the National Science Foundation, concerns the study of the shapes and surfaces of asteroids and comets. She is a frequent guest observer at Lowell Observatory in Arizona and at Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in Chile, and is often accompanied by students on these research trips.
During her sabbatical in 2009-2010, Dr. French was a Visiting Professor of Physics at the University of York, England where she investigated the life of York astronomer John Goodricke (1764-1786). She has given lectures on Goodricke and his mentor Edward Pigott in York, Boston, and Toronto, and at major observatories in the United States and Chile. Linda has receiving grants and awards in recognition of her scientific and educational work (e.g., asteroid 3506 French) as well as for her historical research. She is the 2016 recipient of the Kemp Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence, the highest award for teaching at Illinois Wesleyan.
- French, L. M., R. D. Stephens, D. Coley, L. H. Wasserman, J. Sieben. 2015. Rotation lightcurves of small jovian Trojan asteroids. Icarus 254, 1-17.
- Emery, J. P., F. Marzari, A. Morbidelli, L. M. French, and T. Grav. 2015. The complex history of jovian asteroids. arXiv1506.01658.
How did you first become interested in astronomy or planetary science?
I am pleased to announce the details about the upcoming Women in Planetary Science Networking event, we hope many of you can attend!
Keynote Address by Amy Simon: Navigating Hurdles Throughout Your Career
Date: Tuesday, 10 November 2015
Time: 12:00-1:30 pm (lunchtime!)
Place: Baltimore 3 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, at the Division for Planetary Sciences Annual Meeting in National Harbour, MD