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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:

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…

LPSC 2020 – Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion within Planetary Science Networking Event

February 19, 2020

Dear all,

Please see below information about an upcoming event at this year’s LPSC. Hope you can join!

Wednesday, 5:30 to 7:30 PM, Waterway 1-3
Welcome! This event is open to all interested persons. This year, in preparation for the Decadal Survey, we will discuss equity, diversity, and inclusion within planetary science and ways that the field can become more accessible and even to a diverse group of people. Join us for what’s sure to be an exciting panel discussion followed by break-outs to actively participate in drafting Decadal Survey white papers. This event is co-sponsored by the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Working Group of the AGs (EDIWoG), the Susan Niebur Women in Planetary Science Group (WiPS), the Professional Culture & Climate Subcommittee (PCCS) of the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS).

For questions about this event, contact one of this year’s organizers:

  • Justin Filiberto, He / Him
  • Mallory Kinczyk, She / Her
  • Moses Milazzo, He / Him
  • Jennifer Piatek, She / Her
  • Julie Rathburn, She / Her
  • Christina Richey, They / Them
  • Nicolle Zellner, She / Her

It is Award Nomination Season! And it needs you to succeed

February 13, 2020

Hello all! I was inspired by these articles that Nicolle Zellner shared on the AASWomen newsletter, about a team of people who made it their mission to help promote equal representation in AGU award nominations.

EOS Article in which they describe their process and gives tips and best practices for success: Equal Representation in Scientific Honors Starts with Nominations

This follow up includes a nice graph of the increase of female participants in 2019

And it is time again to nominate deserving colleagues for awards. Here are some of the major professional societies and their award deadlines (scroll over the text for links):

DPS Award Nominations are open now and close April 1 !!!

AGU Award Nominations are open now and close March 15 !!!

General GSA Award Nominations are mostly closed (on Feb 1), except for recognition of an international colleague, but the Planetary Division Awards deadlines are spread throughout the year !

What other awards are out there? Comment below and I will add them to this list.

Happy Nominating!



AGU Bridge Program

January 14, 2020

The American Geophysical Union began a Bridge Program in 2019. It was initiated to “develop, adopt, and share inclusive practices for recruiting, admitting and retaining women and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate programs.”

Fourteen Bridge Partner Institutions were selected for the program because they demonstrated that they will “provide a supportive, inclusive and nurturing environment for students”. These include Georgia State University, Department of Geosciences; Lehigh University, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences; University of Chicago, Department of the Geophysical Sciences; and University of Wisconsin–Madison, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.


Read more and find the full list of Bridge Partner Institutions at

Biennial European Astrobiology Conference (BEACON)

December 16, 2019

Posted at the request of Wolf Geppert

Biennial European Astrobiology Conference (BEACON)
The Biennial European Astrobiology Conference (BEACON) will take place at the La Palma & Teneguia Princess Hotel on La Palma Island (Canary Islands, Spain) from 20-24 April 2020. During this meeting also the 2nd General Assembly of the EAI will take place. Scientific sessions are planned covering the following themes:

  • Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems and Detection of Habitable Worlds
  • The Pathway to Complexity: From Simple Molecules to First Life
  • Planetary Environments and Habitability
  • Evolution and Traces of Early Life and Life under Extreme Condition
  • Biosignatures and the Detection of Life beyond Earth
  • Historical, Philosophical, Societal and Ethical Issues in Astrobiology
  • Tracing Life and Identifying Habitable Environments
  • Impacts and their Role in the Evolution of Planets, Moons and Life
  • Protoplanetary disks and their physical and chemical processes

There will be, amongst others,  the following keynote speakers at the event:

Daniela Billi, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy
Bertram Bitsch, MPIA Heidelberg, Germany
Joanna Drazkowska, LMU Munich, Germany
Michael Gillon, University of Liège, Belgium
Keyron Hickman-Lewis, CNRS, France
Lisa Kaltenegger, Cornell University, USA 
Nancy Kiang, NASA Goddard Space Flight Centre, USA
Silvano Onofri, University of Tuscia, Italy
Ana-Catalina Plesa, German Aerospace Center, Germany
Sarah Rugheimer, Oxford University, UK 
Eörs Szathmary, Eötvös Lorand University, Hungary

La Palma offers a multitude of  relevant research infrastructures (telescopes) and locations (active volcanoes, recent lava fields, Mars-analogue landscapes,  etc. During the conference excursion (Friday 24th April) many of these will be visited. An optional after conference walk (Saturday 25 April) along the Volcano route (Ruta de los Volcanes) spanning several active volcanoes above 1600m altitude will also be offered.


New Video Interview Series from the Europlanet Early Career and Diversity Committees

November 14, 2019

Note from Rutu Parekh about New Planetary Science Interview Series:


As a part of Europlanet Early Career (EPEC) Network Diversity working group ( we try to build diverse working environment for the young and early career researcher community. We interviewed experienced scientists and discussed about their life struggles, motivations and success. This series is specially aimed for the future generation of researchers who face difficult time in their early career.

Recently we launched our first episode of this series, where we interviewed Dr. Rosaly Lopes, planetary volcanologist at JPL-NASA. Her piece of advise is ‘Don’t give up. You keep going. And everyone is going to have papers criticized, proposals rejected and also don’t take it personally’. Do watch her journey here !!!

We will release one interview every month here, so stay tuned to get more updates. Feel free to spread it around with your friends, colleagues and on your social media accounts. We would love to have as much feedback as possible.