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Dr. Brett Denevi: Take advantage of the opportunities that come your way

February 2, 2017

This interview is was conducted by Heather Meyer who is conducting her graduate studies at Arizona State University.


denevi_picDr. Denevi is a Planetary Geologist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), and she is currently serving as the Deputy Principal Investigator for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). She also served as the Deputy Instrument Scientist for the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) on board the MESSENGER spacecraft at Mercury leading the in-flight calibration and co-leading the Geology Discipline Group. Dr. Denevi was also a Participating Scientist on the Dawn mission  at Vesta investigating pitted terrain and the presence of volatiles. Her research interests include the origin, composition, and evolution of planetary surfaces. Her research focuses on the history of volcanism and crustal formation on terrestrial bodies, the mineralogy and chemistry of planetary surfaces, the space weathering history of airless bodies, and the development and evolution of regolith.

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New LPSC Childcare Discussion Board

December 21, 2016

Message from Julie Tygielski:

Join the #lpsc2017 childcare discussion forum. You’re invited to connect with other parents with childcare needs and share information on childcare providers and form parenting co-ops, all within the USRA Meeting Portal.


Thanks to the LPI staff for putting this forum together and taking the issue of childcare at the meeting seriously.  They are also pursuing other options for supporting childcare needs and a summary of those findings will be available at a later date.  They do plan to continue to have a mother’s room on site.

An open letter from women of science

November 25, 2016

A group of women scientists started a pledge to support scientists of all kinds and engage with the public to promote the importance of science.  Visit the below link to see their suggested actions and/or join the pledge:

Thanks to lovenstars for sharing this :).

Now More than Ever: Stepping Up Our Allyship

November 20, 2016

The following post was contributed by Andy Rivkin, Bob Pappalardo, and David Grinspoon.


For the second consecutive year, we held a “Men’s Auxiliary” event at the DPS meeting as a way to discuss harassment and bias issues, and to foster allyship and better awareness and support. We look forward to reporting on the event in this blog, as we did last year. In this post, however, we are separately addressing a topic that served as an unavoidable backdrop and discussion spur for our gathering: the then-upcoming and now-recent US elections. While our individual politics and personal responses may vary, those of us in more privileged positions in our community should be aware of and not dismiss our colleagues’ concerns, and must be vigilant in taking action to minimize bias and harassment.


The actions and upcoming policies of a Trump Administration are only poorly understood by the public, and some have called for a wait-and-see attitude. However, damage has already been done to more vulnerable communities including people of color, the disabled, LBGTQ people, immigrants, religious minorities, and all women. While we focus on the latter group here, our concerns are with the other communities as well.  It is not news that the election campaign was extraordinarily vindictive toward specific women (such as Alicia Machado and Elizabeth Warren) with unprecedented bile directed toward Hillary Clinton.


There are obvious lessons and parallels for men in science to learn and confront. Many have ruefully noted that the most qualified person in America, who happens to be a woman, was passed over for a promotion that was given to a less-qualified man. How many times has this happened in our own departments and institutions, if less publicly and with more deniability? Testimony of sexual assault from several women, and video and audio evidence of sexual harassment and bullying, were made available, and were seemingly forgotten as ostensibly-neutral pundits muddied the waters and the personal lives of apparent victims were investigated.  How many times have brave women in science trusted the system and reported harassment (or worse) by powerful men only to be asked for “proof,” and find their complaints waved away as “a disagreement” and violations left unpunished? How many of us congratulate ourselves for clearing the bar of not being as bad as Donald Trump, while acting like Billy Bush?


Some have called this a “post-truth” election. But as scientists, we are trained to be critical thinkers. The gaslighting on a national scale that has occurred over the campaign is likely to continue, but we have an obligation to support our colleagues and trust them when they say they’re hurting.  We must not tell them to “relax” or that they’re overreacting, especially given very real concerns that the election results may normalize some of the worst behaviors seen during the campaign.


More than that, we are under an obligation to improve matters in our field. We have been saying for years that we are committed to eliminating bias, but we have been slow to take concrete steps in our societies to do so. Studies from people like Dana Hurley, Julie Rathbun, Ferdinando Patat, and I. Neill Reid show that women are significantly underrepresented in planetary missions and do worse in telescope applications than expected from an unbiased process.   We must speak up when bias or harassment is recognized, and advocate more strongly and regularly for implicit bias training in our institutions and societies as a requirement for membership in leadership positions, in conference organizing committees, and in prize committees.  Similarly, we must encourage bystander training for members of our community.  We must make resources readily available for those who are interested in taking such training, and increase the pool of people who have taken such training.


We do not know how dangerous or uncomfortable the coming years will be for women and minorities, including in planetary science. However, the steps we should take would not be wasted in any administration.  We know from years of evidence that change does not come unbidden, and it is evident that things will not get better by themselves. It is incumbent upon us to confront ourselves in order to achieve full support of, and respect for, all our colleagues.


Columns in the main entrance lobby of MIT are currently covered in shared hopes, fears, and questions of that school’s community, many of them centered on women’s and minority disquiet about the recent campaign. Communities throughout academia have similar concerns about the directions that a Trump Administration may take.


Thank you Andy, Bob, and David for your sincere thoughts!

DPS/EPSC 2016 Plenary on Unconscious Bias by Dr. Patricia Knezek

October 27, 2016

The new DPS sub-committee on Professional Culture and Climate implemented many ideas at the 2016 meeting in Pasadena, some of which were: a plenary talk featured in this post, more prominent displays of the anti-harassment policy at the meeting entrances, a hotline for reporting harassment incidents, and additional questions about the meeting climate on the post-meeting survey.  The meeting survey will be e-mailed to attendees in the near future, please take a moment to fill it out!


knezek_patricia-100x150Dr. Patricia Knezek insightful talk outlines the prevalence and importance of unconscious bias, what it is (and what it is not), demographic data (including some for planetary science by Julie Rathbun and others), and what we can do to mitigate unconscious bias.

Her slides are available here.

If you have not already taken the Harvard Implicit Association Test, it is an interesting way to test your own biases (and not just for gender bias!)

Thanks to Patricia for this talk, and for the members of the DPS Professional Climate and Culture sub-committee for all of your efforts towards making the meeting a comfortable space for all.

DPS Professional Culture & Climate Subcommittee/Announcement of DPS Plenary – Crosspost

October 11, 2016

A new post on the Women in Astronomy Blog by Christina Richey highlights the new AAS DPS Committee and describes the upcoming Plenary talk at the DPS meeting in Pasadena by Patricia Knezek titled “Addressing Unconscious Bias” (talk is Wednesday, October 19th, 2016: 2:00-2:20 PM, Ballroom D). Read more about it at:

Dr. Darby Dyar: The 2016 GSA G.K. Gilbert Award Winner

October 7, 2016

I was present for Dr. Dyar’s G. K. Gilbert Award citation and award acceptance speech at the 2016 GSA Planetary Geology Division conference banquet.  I was moved by her speech and I know others were as well.  She was kind enough to share her thoughts and career path trials and triumphs with us here.

Here is the award citation by Dr. Molly Mccanta :

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