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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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Faculty Opening in Planetary Science at MIT

September 19, 2016

FACULTY OPENING IN PLANETARY SCIENCE, The Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology invites qualified candidates to apply for a tenure track position at the assistant professor level beginning July 2017 or thereafter.  Applicants with research interests in Planetary Science are encouraged to apply. We seek an outstanding scientist with interest in and potential for innovation and leadership in teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels and research. The search is in the broad area of Planetary Science encompassing our Solar System as well as exoplanets, including theory, observation, and instrumentation.  However, we are especially interested in individuals whose research complements existing MIT expertise. Applicants must hold a Ph.D. in Planetary Science or related field by the start of employment and must demonstrate ability to excel in teaching. A complete application must include curriculum vitae, two-page description of research and teaching plans and three letters of recommendations.

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Women on Spacecraft Missions: Are we moving towards parity with the percentage in the field?

September 11, 2016
The following blog post was written by Dr. Julie Rathbun, Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and Professor of Physics at the University of Redlands.


rathbun_missions_pic1The photo above was taken during the July 2016 meeting of the Science Team for the Europa Multiple Flyby mission.  All of the women at the meeting (most of whom are members of the science team) wanted to celebrate the accomplishments of women scientists by taking this photo.  It was shot after Dr. Margaret Kivelson was honored by the Project with the Monolith award.  During her speech, Margie discussed the challenges she’d faced over her more than 50 years as a scientist, many of those due to being one of a very small number of women scientists.  For more about her talk, see

How far have we come and how far do we still need to go to welcome women into planetary science, and, particularly, spacecraft missions?  For the 2015 DPS meeting, together with a great group of volunteers, I found lists of names of the team members for 22 NASA planetary science missions over a period of 41 years.  We considered only original team scientists (not engineers, members of project management, nor students or postdocs) from US institutions (since investigators from foreign institutions are generally not funded by NASA).  We determined the year each team was selected and the gender presentation of each team member.  For more recent missions, generally someone on our team knew the investigator personally, so it was straightforward to determine gender.  In other cases, we relied on images of the scientist from web searches and, in a few cases, just the name of the scientist.  The most difficult part of the process was often determining the original team membership, without including postdocs, participating scientists, and other additional scientists. Read more…

DPS/EPSC 2016 WiPS Event! Register for a lunch by Sept. 15th!

September 7, 2016

DPS/EPSC Women in Planetary Science Discussion Hour 2016

Join us on Tuesday, Oct. 18th from 12:00-1:30 pm for the annual DPS/EPSC Women in Planetary Science event in room C106 of the Pasadena Convention Center (conference venue).  The discussion this year will focus on “Being an Ally” and related planetary science demographic information.  All are welcome!

Thanks to the generosity of the DPS committee, we will be able to provide boxed lunches this year!

Pre-registration at is required due to space limitations. Lunch orders must be placed by Sept. 15th.

Contact Kelsi.Singer at with questions.

Dr. Keiko Nakamura-Messenger: Exploring the Cosmos at Atomic Scales

May 13, 2016

Photo by Bill Stafford

Dr. Keiko Nakamura-Messenger is a cosmochemist and materials scientist in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.  She has a Ph. D. in Material Science from Kobe University in Japan.  Keiko is currently the lead of sample site science and the deputy curation lead of the OSIRIS-REx mission, as well as a science team member of the Japanese Hayabusa2 mission.  She is an expert in the analysis of extraterrestrial materials, especially in analysis of samples at the nano-scale, e.g. Stardust samples and interplanetary dust particles.  Her research led to the discovery of two new minerals, Brownleeite and Wassonite. Asteroid 7862 Keikonakamura is named in her honor for her pioneering work on microscopic organic globules in meteorites, furthering understanding of organic material in the solar system.

Kat Gardner-Vandy, an Earth and space science consultant and research associate at the University of Tulsa, interviewed Keiko for the 51+ Women in Planetary Science series over email.

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Summary from 2016 LPSC WiPS Event

April 15, 2016

The topic for this year’s event was implicit or unconscious bias.  We had two great presentations and a discussion, summarized below.

1. Dr. Gale Allen (Deputy Chief Scientist) on NASA’s Demographic Data Initiative

Gale opened with statistics on the percentage of women at various career levels in STEM fields (decreasing with increasing career level).  She reiterated the NASA position of not funding universities that do not comply with Title 9 policies.

About the Demographic Data Initiative: NSF and other agencies already collect demographic data – and this is an initiative to have NASA do the same.  These studies can reveal potential unconscious bias in grant awards.  Gale outlined more of the history of these studies in her slides.

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Super Quick Survey on LPSC Childcare Needs – please participate and distribute

March 8, 2016

We have put together a short (should take less than 1 min. to complete) survey on the needs of the community for childcare at LPSC.  This information will help inform possible solutions/suggestions to help those with children attend the conference.  You can fill it out even if you don’t anticipate needing childcare :), and of course if you anticipate needing childcare now or in the future we would love to get your input.

This is a homegrown effort – so we would greatly appreciate if you could help us circulate the survey far and wide (share on their facebook page, twitter, share it on department mail, whatever is appropriate).  Thanks!

Contact for questions about the survey is Deepak Dhingra (deepdpes at