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Martha Gilmore: Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong in this field

June 16, 2021


Martha Gilmore is the Seney Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Wesleyan University, Middletown CT. A geologist who specializes in the study of planetary surfaces using geomorphic mapping and VNIR spectroscopy on Venus, Mars and Earth, Dr. Gilmore compares spectral signatures from field and laboratory work to orbital images to better interpret the signals received from remote sensing platforms. Dr. Gilmore received the Geological Society of America’s 2020 Randolph W. “Bill” and Cecile T. Bromery Award for, in part, her significant contributions to expanding diversity in the geosciences. She is a science team member of both NASA Discovery mission teams that will explore Venus and will use her expertise in morphology and spectroscopy to help us better understand the environment of Venus.

Her most-recent publications (w/ undergrad students denoted by ^) include:

How did you first become interested in astronomy or planetary science?

I grew up in Harrisburg, PA and would visit the PA State Museum. Throughout my childhood I loved the planetarium there and the natural history exhibits – I was in awe and so interested in what I was seeing. I was also enthralled by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos show which reported on the discoveries of the Voyager spacecraft. I still remember the episode that uses a piece of paper covered with zeros draped throughout the streets of a city to explain how large a googolplex is!

Who inspired you?

My parents, mostly. Our house was filled with books, music, art and conversation. They made me feel like I could do or be anything I wanted. I try to hold on to that feeling when confronted with sexism and racism in my field as an adult.

How did you choose your current institution?

I was a postdoc at JPL and was trying to decide between seeking a career at NASA or at a university. Working for NASA is very attractive because it offers the opportunity to be at the forefront of planetary exploration, but in the end, I realized that many academics do work with NASA while enjoying the benefits of tenure and a steady income (which I needed). I attended a liberal arts college (Franklin and Marshall, Lancaster PA) and I really appreciated the strong academics in a supportive department. One of my Venus buddies was a Wesleyan alum and it turns out that Wesleyan is really unique – it is a liberal arts university with great students, but a real emphasis on and support for research.

What classes do you teach?

At the Intro Level:
Introduction to Planetary Geology
The Planets

At the Upper/Graduate Level:
Geomorphology
Remote Sensing
Planetary Evolution

How are students (undergraduate or otherwise) involved in your research?

I always have undergraduate and MA students working with me if possible! Student research is encouraged and often funded at Wesleyan, so it’s a matter of finding a good match. Some of the best work comes from students that enter my lab as sophomores so we have time to really flesh out a project. I have had several papers with undergraduate and graduate student co-authors on lab and field work on Earth, Venus and Mars projects.

Is there anything you wish you had negotiated for in your current position?

I’m lucky, I have a dear friend who is a businessman and he sat me down and told me how to negotiate a salary. He insisted I be assertive and we actually worked out a set of talking points that I practiced (like a conference talk!) prior to the negotiation. This really helped, because the experience was so outside my instincts to just take what they offer that I needed to rely on my script to stay calm and strong. The provost at the time was resisting and visibly sweating, but I held my ground and got a great starting salary. In academia, your initial salary determines your earnings over your entire career, so that 30-minute negotiation resulted in an additional tens of thousands of dollars over the 21 years I’ve been here. And if that doesn’t sway you, remember that Mediocre White Guy is often comfortable negotiating for a higher salary, and is likely to be offered more than you in the first place. Don’t sell yourself short.

What do you do for fun?

My house is a mess, but my garden is the bomb!

Please share any advice you have for students and post-docs just starting their career in space science.

I love, love, love planetary science so if you do too, go for it! The trick is to find an environment where you can do your best work. It’s important to find a network of allies inside and outside your institution to help you when things get rough. Work with good people and don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t belong in this field.

DPS Professional Development June Virtual Workshop – Postdoc Opportunities

June 1, 2021

Hi All!

We recognize that networking has been difficult for many during these crazy times, especially for early career scientists – so the DPS is putting on a couple of 1-hr workshops this summer – the first one is all about postdocs :).

Come with questions, come with advice/answer, we would love to see you there!


Postdoctoral Opportunities in National Labs, Research Institutes & Universities: A Community Conversation


Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Time: 2 pm Eastern, 1 pm Central, 12 pm Mountain, 11 am Pacific, 8 am Hawaii, 8 pm CEST (Central European)

Duration: ~1 hr

Place: Virtual

Join us for an interactive question and answer session all about postdoc positions. All are welcome! The professional development subcommittee of the DPS has assembled a panel of experts from various institutions and fields and also student moderators for the event. We will cover as many topics as are of interest to the audience, and plan to have a slack channel for asynchronous questions and answers as well. Please note this event is, free, open to all, and you do not need to be a DPS member or registered for the fall DPS meeting to attend. More information and the signup page can be found here: http://bit.ly/DPS_Postdocs. We hope to see you there!

New support network: Disabled for Accessibility In Space (DAIS)

April 19, 2021

DAIS (Disabled for Accessibility In Space) is a peer networking, support, and advocacy group welcoming all disabled and chronically ill people working in or professionally associated with space science and related fields (e.g., astronomy, geology). This is a space to be ourselves, trade advice, talk about work/life with a disability, offer and ask for support, and meet others in the community. Some people may be unsure whether they identify as disabled. If you have an illness or physical/cognitive condition that creates personal obstacles and impacts your ability to function at work or at home, and/or if you have a condition which limits your access to certain aspects of society without accommodations, then you belong here regardless of how you describe it. We use an online platform called Mighty Networks, which works similar to a Facebook group but with no ads or selling data. It’s simple to use in a browser or on mobile. Use the link below to request an invitation!

Landing page: https://spacedais.mn.co

Contact: jmolaro at psi.edu

LPSC Workforce Poster Session: Who We Are and Who We Can Be

March 15, 2021

By Julie Rathbun and Nicolle Zellner

Almost all of the conferences went virtual in 2020, and LPSC was early enough in the pandemic that it simply had to be canceled. As we continue to collectively tread safely, LPSC 2021 looks a bit different this year as the LPI’s first ever virtual conference. Everyone (including us) seems to be burnt out right now, so we don’t want to add too much to your plate. But, if you have time in your schedule, we recommend a conversation about the posters submitted to LPSC’s session titled: “A Diverse and Inclusive Workforce: Who we are and can be”.  

Posters in this session cover topics ranging from workforce survey results, demographics, harassment, planetary nomenclature, and ways to help members of marginalized communities in planetary science, and more! The complete list of poster titles and links to abstracts can be found here. You don’t have to be registered for the conference to read the abstracts.

Read more…

New DPS Mid-career Prize: The Claudia J. Alexander Prize

March 7, 2021

Hello all! Its that time of year again, to take a moment to look around, and consider who of your deserving colleagues you should be nominating for prizes this year! The due date for all prize nomination packages is April 1. Most prizes request a main nominator who organizes 3 additional letters of recommendation. Prize packages remain active for 3 years, or until a candidate is no longer eligible. Nomination packages can be refreshed or renewed at any time (you do not have to wait until the 3 year initial term is over). You can find the full info here: https://dps.aas.org/prizes and here: https://dps.aas.org/prizes/nomination-form. Also note that DPS membership is not required for either the nominators or the nominee.

  • This is the first year of the new DPS Alexander Mid-career Scientific Achievement Prize, where mid-career is defined as 8-25 years past-PhD.

The full list of DPS prizes:

Read more…

Remembering Nadine Barlow

November 2, 2020
Nadine Barlow (1958-2020). Image provided by NAU.

The Department of Astronomy and Planetary Science at Northern Arizona University (NAU) will hold a virtual memorial for Nadine Barlow on November 9, 2020, from 3:30-4:30 Arizona time (MST), via Zoom. All are invited. 

Zoom link: https://nau.zoom.us/j/99052656503
Meeting ID: 990 5265 6503
Password: 124137

The department is also raising funds for the Nadine Barlow Prize in Undergraduate Research, to be awarded each spring to an outstanding student who has conducted research in the field. The awardees will be selected by the faculty in the department. If you would like to make a gift in honor of Nadine, please do so via the giving page.

You can read about Nadine’s research and find tributes to her life at:

NASA Science
51+ Women in Planetary Science
Arizona Space Grant
AAS Division for Planetary Science

Please feel free to share your memories of Nadine in the comments below.

Mono Lake 5_23_12_photo.by.Horton.Newsom
Nadine Barlow at Mono Lake (2012). Photo by Horton Newsom

Survey: Impact of Parenthood on Career Progression in STEMM

October 12, 2020
Image: Tatiana Syrikova / Pexels

Motherhood is a determinant factor driving women away from their career track, yet few interventions or policies address the career obstacles faced by mothers, such as motherhood discrimination, a chronic lack of affordable childcare, and unequal sharing of childcare and housework. Our team at Mothers in Science is leading an international research project aimed at understanding how parenthood affects the career advancement of people working or studying in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine) fields.

Background

There is wide evidence that gender discrimination and implicit bias are important barriers to career progression in STEM, especially for people from ethnical minorities, but few reports address motherhood as a major contributing factor. A recent study showed that 42% of mothers and 15% of fathers in the US leave full-time STEM employment within three years of having children. The situation is even bleaker for academics. Women who have children soon after their PhD are less likely to get tenure than their male counterparts, and female PhD holders may suffer a pay penalty after having a child (‘motherhood penalty’), while fathers see no decline in their earnings. It is then not surprising that, on average, female academics have fewer children than women in other professional sectors, and that nearly twice as many women as men report having fewer children than desired because they pursued a STEM career. Yet, not enough attention is paid to motherhood as a critical factor contributing to gender imbalance in STEM, and even less is known about the specific career obstacles faced by parents.

Despite these alarming statistics, few interventions to close the gender gap in STEM address the obstacles faced by women with children, such as pregnancy/motherhood bias and discrimination, and a chronic lack of childcare support and family-friendly work policies, among others. In fact, although research shows that motherhood is an important driver of gender imbalance in many professional sectors including STEM (Cech and Blair-Loy, 2019), discussions around this topic rarely reach the wider public or decision-makers. As a result, some of the underlying causes driving women with children away from their STEM careers remain systemic problems.

Click to read a recent post by Mothers in Science about the effects of COVID on working mothers

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has only served to exacerbate the inequalities and career obstacles encountered by mothers and minorities in STEM fields. Approximately 60% of the jobs eliminated in the first wave of the pandemic were held by women, and single moms have been particularly hard hit by this crisis. Mothers have historically shouldered the burden of childcare and left the workforce when domestic responsibilities increased. During this ongoing pandemic, working mothers are facing the additional strain of caring for their children full-time and homeschooling while trying to keep up with the demands of their jobs. Surveys show that mothers are already taking pay cuts, scaling back to part-time work, and putting career progression on hold while fathers continue to work at pre-pandemic levels. As Rolling Stone Magazine rightly said in a recent article, COVID is killing the working mother.

Now is the time to take action – to raise awareness of these inequalities and to search for long-term solutions to eradicate the systemic barriers preventing mothers from using their talents and fulfilling their potential, and ultimately damaging our economy and stalling scientific and technological progress.

Read more…

Announcing the 2020 DPS Women in Planetary Science Discussion Hour

September 20, 2020

Hello all! We will be having the first Virtual Women in Planetary Science Discussion Hour at the 2020 Division of Planetary Science Meeting this year. It will be an interactive small group discussion for most of the time, we are trying for the virtual version of table topics!

Date: Monday, Oct. 26

Time: 5:30 pm Eastern, 4:30 Central, 3:30 Mountain, 2:30 Pacific

Duration: ~1 hour

What: Join us for the annual DPS Women in Planetary Science event in its first ever virtual format. All are welcome!  This year we will have professional development “table topics” covering a wide range of themes based on the attendee interest.  A huge thanks(!) to our generous sponsor AURA for supporting this event again this year.  Sign up is required so that we can plan for virtual “room size”, gauge attendee interests, and send you information/updates about the event.  Please see more details and sign up at http://bit.ly/DPS_WIPS_2020.  The deadline to sign up is right before the event (Monday October 26 at 5:30 pm Eastern), but if we get too many, people we may have to cap the attendance, so sign up early!  We will update the sign up page according to whether spots are still available.  The telecon link for the event will be sent to those who sign up and posted on the detailed schedule for the DPS meeting (not the block schedule).  Please do not post the telecon link in a public place.  For any questions please contact Kelsi Singer at kelsi.singer at gmail.com.

What are the impacts of performing a Decadal Survey during a global pandemic?

May 14, 2020

The following post was written and contributed by the members of the Professional Culture and Climate Subcommittee of the AAS’s DPS.

The Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey is a once-in-ten-years opportunity for the research community to provide critical input into the U.S. strategy for space research.  The survey is in its early stages; nominations for panel membership were due on May 1st, and white papers (a major form of community input[1]) are due July 4th.

However, since the Statement of Task for this Decadal Survey was formulated, the coronavirus pandemic has caused major disruption throughout our society, including in the work of planetary scientists.  Of greatest concern for the Decadal Survey, this burden falls unevenly.  For example, the pandemic has disproportionately affected the scientific productivity of women researchers[2], and racial and ethnic minority communities overall[3].

Read more…

NASA Implements New Harassment Reporting Requirements

May 8, 2020

By Andrea Peterson

Starting in April, NASA-funded institutions are required to notify the agency whenever they determine a principal or co-investigator has violated policies concerning harassment or assault, or if the personnel are placed on leave due to a harassment investigation. NASA modeled the policy on one first implemented by the National Science Foundation in 2018.

 
Read more at

https://www.aip.org/fyi/2020/nasa-implements-new-harassment-reporting-requirements

 

Find the NASA policy at

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/03/10/2020-04815/reporting-requirements-regarding-findings-of-harassment-sexual-harassment-other-forms-of-harassment

 

Find the NSF policy at

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/09/21/2018-20574/notification-requirements-regarding-findings-of-sexual-harassment-other-forms-of-harassment-or

Planetary Science Summer School – call for additional applicants! Deadline April 13

April 10, 2020

Hi Allplease encourage any graduate students or postdoctoral researchers you know who may benefit from the Planetary Science Summer School (PSSS) at JPL to apply! I have been getting hints that they need more applicants (extended deadlines, requests to spread the word :)) so please pass this on to anyone who might be interested! Thanks much and stay well! ~Kelsi

—- PSSS Announcement and Info —-

Deadline 4/13! 2020 NASA Planetary Science Summer School (PSSS) Applications
Applications are due 4/13/20 for NASA’s 32nd Annual PSSS, offered by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. This 3-month early career development experience teaches the development of a hypothesis-driven robotic space mission in a concurrent engineering environment.

Science and engineering doctoral candidates, recent Ph.D.s, postdocs, and junior faculty, who are U.S. Citizens or legal permanent residents (and a very limited number of Foreign Nationals from non-designated counties), are eligible.

Session 1: May 18-Jul 24

Session 2: May 18-Aug 7

Roughly equivalent in workload to a rigorous 3-hour graduate-level course, participants spend the first 10 weeks in preparatory webinars as a “science mission team”, and spend the final culminating week at JPL being mentored by JPL’s Advance Project Design Team, or “Team X” to refine their planetary science mission concept design, and present it to a mock expert review board.

Note: As conditions evolve regarding the Covid-19 outbreak, we are monitoring official recommendations and practices, along with JPL policy, and developing plans to accommodate potential conditions that may be present during the week of travel to JPL for each session.

Please apply and learn more:

http://go.nasa.gov/missiondesignschools

Memorialized on Mercury: A Monument to the Life and Work of Maya Angelou

February 25, 2020
Left: Angelou Crater on Mercury. Right: Portrait of Maya Angelou by Steve Dunwell

“You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”

 – Maya Angelou, Still I Rise 

As we celebrate Black History Month, there is no better time to remember the life and work of the poet, memoirist, dancer, singer, actress, and civil rights activist Maya Angelou (1928-2014). This year, her legacy deserves extra attention. On September 19th, 2019, 50 years after the publication of her most famous work and first autobiography, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”,  a new and permanent monument to her contributions to literature and the arts was approved by the International Astronomical Union (a.k.a the IAU). You may be wondering what outer space has to do with the first Black woman to publish a nonfiction best seller–and that is a reasonable question. 

Read more…