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LPI seeking committee members for new IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility) Independent Advisory Committee – Applications due Oct 8

September 26, 2021

The Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) is seeking committee members for its newly established IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility) Independent Advisory Committee. 

Service is at the heart of the LPI’s mission. As we support and serve members of our diverse planetary science community, we want to take actions to ensure we facilitate a culture and a profession that is inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible. As a mechanism for direct community feedback and accountability, we are announcing the creation of an independent advisory committee. The goal of the advisory committee is to provide guidance on the LPI’s practices, in particular for meetings, conferences, and public and planetary community engagement activities. 

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Remembering Carolyn Shoemaker

September 15, 2021

I met Carolyn Shoemaker in 1999, right in the middle of my graduate school career, when Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) hosted Space Week, to honor George Low (Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office and 14th president of RPI) and other explorers of space. Our list of speakers and attendees included John Young (Apollo 16 astronaut and commander of STS-1, the first space shuttle mission); Harrison “Jack” Schmitt (Apollo 17 astronaut and geologist); Grace Mary Corrigan (mother of Challenger astronaut Christa McAuliffe); Stephanie Wilson (at the time an astronaut candidate but now a veteran of three shuttle flights); and Carolyn Shoemaker, among others.

Carolyn immediately accepted our invitation to speak and we excitedly planned her itinerary to include a student meet-and-greet, a visit to our campus observatory, and the public talk. She spoke passionately about her life exploring the skies, discovering and documenting the locations of hundreds of asteroids and numerous comets. She spoke lovingly of her children and her deceased husband, Gene Shoemaker, who helped train the Apollo astronauts prior to their Moon landings. Both Shoemakers, along with David Levy, identified the “string of pearls”, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, that crashed into Jupiter in 1994, focusing the attention of most Earth- and space-based telescopes on this never-before-seen phenomenon. We have now witnessed several comet-planet collisions. Carolyn’s enthusiasm for space exploration was apparent and it’s stuck with me all these years.

Carolyn Shoemaker passed away on August 13, 2021, at the age of 92. Though she never really considered herself a scientist, we honor her contributions to advancing our field. Share your memories below and read more about her life and legacy at the following sites:

Planetary News, by Lisa Gaddis (Lunar and Planetary Institute) and Mary Chapman (US Geological Survey)

Nature, by David Levy (Jarnac Observatory)

Astronomy, by Caitlyn Buongiorno

Announcing the 2021 DPS Women in Planetary Science Discussion Hour – Virtual Event – registration link enclosed

September 7, 2021

Hello all! I am excited to announce our 2021 Virtual Women in Planetary Science Event at DPS. Maggie McAdam and Audrey Martin have worked to put together an excellent program, and many thanks to AURA for sponsoring our event for many years, including this year :).

This year’s discussion topic is: Lean in…into discomfort: the continual work of equity and justice. We will discuss our continued commitment to equity and justice in STEM. More details about the schedule and topics will be posted soon.

Date: Monday, Oct. 4, 2021
Time: 5 pm Eastern, 4 pm Central, 3 pm Mountain, 2 am Pacific, 11 am Hawaii standard time, 11 pm CET
Duration: ~1.5 hr (one hour event, ½ hour open networking time)
Place: Virtual link to be sent to those who register at the link below, and also available for DPS meeting registrants on the detailed schedule page (not the block schedule). Please don’t post the link in a public place to avoid zoom-bombing.

Registration and more details at:

Note: You do not need to be registered for DPS to attend this Women in Planetary Science event, but we hope you will also join us for the fantastic science portions of the meeting :).

Myriam Telus: Find mentors everywhere you go

August 16, 2021

Myriam Telus is an Assistant Professor in the Earth & Planetary Sciences Department at UC-Santa Cruz. Her research focuses on understanding the timing and conditions of solar system formation and early evolution through chemical and isotope analyses of meteorites. In 2020, Dr. Telus received a NASA Planetary Science Early Career Award to continue her meteorite studies and to also develop cosmochemistry and scanning electron microscope facilities at UC-Santa Cruz that will be suitable for storing and analyzing samples returned from the ongoing NASA OSIRIS-REx and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Hayabusa-2 missions.

Her most recent publications include

Thompson M.A. et al. (2021) Composition of terrestrial exoplanet atmospheres from meteorite outgassing experiments, Nature Astronomy.

Telus M. et al. (2019) Calcite and dolomite formation in the CM parent body: Insight from in situ C and O analyses, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

How did you first become interested in planetary science? What’s your specific research area?

I’m a cosmochemist. I study the chemical and isotopic signatures of meteorites and other extraterrestrial material to understand the chemical and physical evolution of the protoplanetary disk. I learned about cosmochemistry while I was an undergrad in geology at the University of Chicago. I was fascinated by meteorites, ancient rocks from space. Meteorites are all so different in texture and chemistry. I use various geochemical techniques to piece together the story they record of the earliest stages of solar system formation and planet formation.    

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Dr. Jennifer Whitten – Be open to varied training methods, you never know where they might lead!

August 3, 2021

This interview was conducted by Mikayla Huffman (see more information at the end of this interview) and Kelsi Singer. 

Dr. Jennifer Whitten is an Assistant Professor at Tulane University.  She has worked on many missions, including VERITAS, Moon Diver Mission, SHARAD, and MESSENGER.  Her Postdoc was at the Smithsonian Institution, where she analyzed the radar properties of rocky bodies.  Dr. Whitten has also done field research in both Iceland and the Antarctic.  Her primary research interests include volcanism, impact processes, geomorphology, and radar science. 

Jennifer attended William and Mary for her undergraduate work, and Mikayla is currently studying there, so that was a fun connection for this interview! 😊

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

I had a very enthusiastic high school Earth Science teacher who was also really liked astronomy.  He developed a few labs using a pre-cursor to the Eyes on the Solar System software, and you could fly around the solar system putting in people or other objects for scale.  I thought that was engaging but didn’t pursue the subject afterwards.  I was in a science magnet high school and so I took a lot of science in high school. In college, I wanted to go a different direction and so I majored in both Art History and Geology in undergrad at William and Mary.  I really liked the puzzle of putting together the natural observations.  In my surface processes class the professor put up a picture of landslide and asked us to describe it.  At the end of class he asked us what planet it was on, and we all guessed Earth, but actually it was a very high-resolution picture of Mars.  And that was my aha moment – I could study geology on other planets! I decided to go to grad school in planetary science.  I felt that there was a combination of image analysis from my art history side and the science side.

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Dr. Joceyln Bell Burnell – Short Documentary

July 29, 2021

Hey all! For those who haven’t seen it yet, there is a moving, 15-minute documentary about Dr. Bell Burnell on the NYTimes:

This documentary is in line with our career trajectory interviews and so I wanted to share it here. Dr. Bell Burnell shared the aspects she appreciated about her career and what she has accomplished, both in science and as a role model and supporter of minority students and scientists, despite the very public setback during her grad years. I was lucky to meet Dr. Bell Burnell as a grad student at one of those very events supporting students!

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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