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Solidarity Statement on Charlottesville

August 17, 2017

Dear fellow planetary scientists:

This is a cross-posting in full support of Astronomy in Color’s Statement on Charlottesville.  As members of the Division for Planetary Science’s Professional Culture and Climate Subcommittee, we denounce all forms of hate and racism, and the systematic causes that resulted in this weekend’s events.  White supremacy is wrong and should be stopped.  We would like to offer our full support to the members of the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy, and thank them for their leadership with this message and their actions within the astronomical community.  We extend our solidarity with planetary scientists of color and will continue to work towards providing a safe, welcoming environment and equal opportunities for all.  And we mean for all, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability status, and any other identity that makes for the greatest foundation of our existence as human beings, but has no place in becoming the illogical rationale for unnecessary hatred and violence. 

Dr. Christina Richey

Prof. Nancy Chanover 

Dr. Matthew Tiscareno

Prof. Sarah Horst 

Dr. Franck Marchis 

Dr. Julie Rathburn

 *The above signatories are private citizens exercising their constitutional right to express their personal views. This is not an official statement by the DPS, the PCCS, nor the AAS, and should not be construed as such.


Dear fellow astronomers,

Two days ago a group of armed white nationalists disrupted the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, with a message filled with racism and hatred. This message was accompanied with deadly acts of violence. Unsurprisingly, a large portion of the media continues to avoid calling this for what it is: white supremacist terrorism. Sadly, the POTUS failed to unambiguously reject against these hate groups – many of whom inspire the very base that elected him. These instances confirm to astronomers of color that the executive may not have their safety and interest in mind.

These acts of violence are used to cause fear amongst people of color in this country, especially Black folks. These acts are not carried out in a vacuum, but rather they are a part of centuries of orchestrated oppression — a continuation of colonization, slavery, Jim Crow laws, extrajudicial murders by the police and mass incarceration. They are a reflection of a crisis of spirit that this country desperately needs to confront.

Within our field these acts hurt members who already feel isolated and excluded, including but not limited to astronomers of color, especially Black students. The mental, physical and emotional toll experienced by them is damaging to their ability to travel freely, to engage in creative scientific work, and above all, to feel truly safe at their home institutions — especially if those institutions are over-represented by white folks and where a culture of equity and inclusion may not be exercised with intention.  For these reasons, it is critical for astronomy departments around the country and astronomers in leadership positions to do their part to ensure safety and well being.

As members of the Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA), we unequivocally denounce the acts of violence that took place in Charlottesville. We also resist the historical and systemic reasons that allowed such events to take place. We reject white supremacist narratives that mask hate toward people of color as “freedom of speech.” We urge all astronomers, especially white astronomers, to renew your commitment against racism[1] in our discipline and in your communities.

We extend our solidarity to every astronomer of color, especially Black astronomers, during these difficult times. We will continue to do everything we can to protect you and we will fight for you.


Prof. Jorge Moreno

Charee Peters, Ph.D Candidate

Dr. Nicole Cabrera Salazar

Prof. Keith Hawkins

Prof. Kate Daniel

Prof. Jillian Bellovary

Prof. Adam Burgasser

Prof. John A. Johnson

Dr. Lia Corrales

Prof. Alyson Brooks

Prof. Kim Coble


The above signatories are private citizens exercising their constitutional right to express their personal views. This is not an official statement by the CSMA nor the AAS and should not be construed as such.


Links and resources

If You Can’t Be In Charlottesville, VA To Protest, Here Are Some Things You CAN Do

Medical fund for Comrades in Cville

4 Self-Care Resources for Days When the World is Terrible

5 Self-Care Practices Black People Can Use While Coping With Trauma

Media Exposure to Violence: 5 Tips to Help Children

How to Support Black People After Incidents of Police Violence

How To Actually Be An Ally To Students Of Color On College Campuses (And Beyond)

Safety Pin Box: White People Can Now Pay for Those ‘How Not to Be Racist’ Lessons

The Southern Poverty Law Center

[1] Racism is defined as the combination of racial prejudice plus power that results in differences in life outcomes between racial groups, such that white people are systematically advantaged compared to people of color.



Cross-Post: New Survey Highlights Gender, Racial Harassment in Astronomy

July 11, 2017

A recent study, published in JGR-Planets, highlights gender and racial harassment faced by women and women of color. The study was conducted by social scientists Kate Clancy and Katherine Lee, space physicist/astrophysicist Erica Rodgers, and planetary scientist Christina Richey.

Find the summary AGU-AAS press release and a link to interviews with authors on the Women in Astronomy blog.

Read the original study.

And let’s find ways to improve the field for all.

Flying High: Two planetary scientists receive Zonta Amelia Earhart Fellowship

June 29, 2017

Meet Sara Port and Marie McBride, two of 35 recent recipients of Zonta’s Amelia Earhart Fellowship for women pursuing Ph.D./doctoral degrees in aerospace-related sciences or aerospace-related engineering. They are the only recipients this year whose research is in the field of planetary science. Congratulations!

port.1Sara Port attained a B.S. in Astronomy/Planetary Science and Physics from Stony Brook University in 2014. She is currently enrolled at the University of Arkansas pursuing a PhD in Space and Planetary Sciences. She is studying the formation of “metal frost” on the highlands of Venus through experiments and computer modeling. At the University of Arkansas, she tests metal frost mineral candidates in a chamber that simulates the temperatures, pressures, and atmospheric conditions on Venus to observe their stability. She will be traveling to Japan this summer to work with Dr. George Hashimoto on modeling the climate history of Venus to determine the origin of metal frost.


McBride-M_7698_cropMarie McBride is a PhD student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN advised by Dr. Briony Horgan. Marie received her BS in Solar, Earth, and Planetary Sciences from the Florida Institute of Technology in 2013. After graduation, Marie worked at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, CA as a member of the Mars Curiosity Rover’s MAHLI camera team before enrolling at Purdue to earn a PhD in Planetary Science. Marie’s research focuses on volcanic deposits found on the Moon. She uses spectroscopy of glasses on the lunar surface as well as analog samples on Earth to understand the volcanic eruptions from which they formed. Marie is a science team collaborator on both the Mars Science Laboratory and Mars 2020 rover missions.

Read more…

Mental Illness/Wellness and Your Career – LPSC WiPS Event Summary 2017

June 6, 2017

Contributed by Nicolle Zellner, Mallory Kinczyk, and Lillian Ostrach

In March, the 9th Annual LPSC Women in Planetary Science Susan Niebur Networking Event was held. Holly Doggett, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Texas spoke to us about mental illness/wellness and its effect on careers. One in five American adults experiences some form of mental illness in any given year, and across the population, one in every 25 adults is living with a serious mental health condition such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or long-term recurring major depression. During her presentation, Holly told anecdotes and suggested coping strategies for instances when we might be affected by changes to our mental wellness.

First and foremost, Holly emphasized that mental illness can affect anyone at any time (common signs) – it’s not the same for everyone, no two days are the same, and our own experience(s) can look completely different at different points in life. Mental illness often has stigma and/or self-stigma connected to it, whereby we feel disgraced, discredited, shame, anger, and/or hopelessness, to name just a few. Even worse, it affects us in the workplace.

It’s important to fight stigma and treat ourselves effectively by practicing self-care. This can take on a variety of forms, from managing expectations in the workplace (e.g., setting priorities, planning ahead, and learning to say NO) to managing stress at home (e.g., avoid wasting time, take time for reflection). These methods should be complementary to taking care of yourself by exercising, getting regular sleep, practicing meditation, eating healthy, and avoiding excessive alcohol or smoking. Other coping strategies can also help. At work, it’s important to establish a support system and to have options (e.g., working from home) for those days or times when you feel your mental health is not up to par. If possible (and you feel safe doing so), let a few people in the workplace know about your medical issues and how these people can be supportive when you are in need. NAMI has compiled resources and strategies for achieving success at work.

Listed here are notes from the questions and ensuing discussion after Holly’s presentation, with link to additional resources: Read more…

Childcare Opportunity at MetSoc

May 5, 2017

E-mail from

Karen Ziegler <>

Dear MetSoc2017 participants,

If you are interested in taking advantage of a childcare opportunity during the week of MetSoc 2017 in Santa Fe, please respond to me BY MAY 31st!

Please let me know HOW MANY kids you’d like to register –  and their AGE/S.

I am in contact with a professional childcare provider in Santa Fe; she is licensed and insured and has >30 years of experience, and has a team of people.

After May 31st, once I will have all of your childcare registrations, I will communicate with you about the details of the childcare options. I want to make sure that it will be a safe and enjoyable experience for both your kids and you parents.

Unfortunately, this service (including supplies, meals, etc.) will not be free, and we will have to charge you for it.

Looking forward to seeing all of you very soon in Santa Fe,



EGU Galileo Conference “Geosciences for Understanding Habitability in the Universe”

April 9, 2017

Posting at the request of Wold Geppart – looks like an interesting, interdisciplinary conference!  🙂   Also see posts on the Graduate Student section for two early career astrobiology events (also for post-docs and other early career scientists up to 8 years out of PhD).

EGU Galileo Conference “Geosciences for Understanding Habitability in the Universe”

Terra Nostra Garden Hotel, Furnas, Azores, 25 – 29 September 2017

Read more…

LPSC Women in Planetary Science Annual Susan Niebur Networking Event 2017

March 12, 2017

We are pleased to announce the 2017 WiPS Networking event named in honor of Susan Niebur!   Wednesday, March 22, 2017; 5:30 to ~7:30 pm

This year’s highlighted topic is: Mental Wellness/Illness and Your Career. 

Two members of The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Texas Chapter have graciously  agreed to come and speak.  We will have plenty of time for discussion and questions.  Light refreshments provided by the Division for Planetary Sciences  (thank you again!!).

Please RSVP and find updated information at

Event Details:

Read more…