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Carlè McGetchin Pieters: The Journey of a Math Teacher to the Moon and Beyond…

July 13, 2021

This interview was conducted by Dr. Deepak Dhingra. Thanks to Dr. Carle Pieters for sharing her wisdom and Deepak for making this wonderful interview possible :).

About the interviewer: Deepak Dhingra is planetary geologist with expertise in near infrared spectroscopy and remote sensing geology. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur. In the past, he worked on Chandrayaan-1 mission at the Indian Space Agency, ISRO and later was a member of the M3 team at Brown University, USA.

The Journey of a Math Teacher to the Moon and Beyond…

“Be Glad, Be Generous, Be Not Afraid.” These three tenets summarize the journey of a former high school math teacher who went on to become a world acclaimed planetary scientist, a spectroscopist and a champion of lunar science. Meet Carlè McGetchin Pieters, Professor (emeritus) in the department of Earth, Environment and Planetary Science (DEEPS) at Brown University, USA, and Distinguished Scientist at SSERVI (Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute). A well-respected figure in the science of squiggly lines, as Carlè would say, she is best known for her discovery of olivine-bearing central peaks at lunar crater Copernicus, spectral characterization of lunar nearside basalts and her reflectance measurement facility, RELAB. Most recently, Carlè and her team got accolades for discovering global lunar hydration signatures (OH/H2O) and a new lunar rock type (Pink Spinel Anorthosite – PSA). These discoveries were made by Carlè’s dream instrument, Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) that orbited the Moon for which she was the principal investigator.

Carlè in her office at Brown University in the 1980s.
Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) changed our views of the Moon forever. Team member, Rachel Klima (who is an active planetary scientist @ JHU-APL) weaved one of M3 views of the Moon into a pillow along with signatures of all the team members as a memento for the PI, Carlè Pieters.
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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!

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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: 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:

Contact: jmolaro at

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.

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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: and here: 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:

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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:
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
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.


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  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

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.



Find the NASA policy at


Find the NSF policy at

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: