Education and Public Outreach Lead
NASA Science Mission Directorate
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
From the time I was a small child I loved rocks. I have my first exposure to geology as a 4th grader and knew that I wanted to be a geologist. I changed my major in college from Mass Communication to Geology in my junior year of college. It was during the time that plate tectonics was coming to the forefront of geologic research. I loved the idea of “smash-bang crash-em up continents.”
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I worked in the Lab for Terrestrial Physics at Goddard Space Flight Center. One of our geophysicists had a project on Kodiak Island and other parts of Alaska. She was using high precision GPS to look at strain across fault zones. For the Kodiak part of the campaign she partnered with the local high school. She asked me to add an education component to the field campaign. In the meantime, she became pregnant and had to go on bed rest. I went up to Kodiak and ran the second week of the field campaign with the students. The following year I went back and recruited other schools in Glen Allen, Kenny Lake and Valdez and participated in those trainings and campaigns as well.
Lorie Molitor, my undergraduate advisor at Towson State University. I shied away from science because I was math-phobic and she convinced me that I could do the math—and she was right.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love learning new things, I am fascinated by the discoveries we make at NASA via our robotic flight programs. One of my first jobs at Goddard was mapping Viking imagery of Mars. My “field area” was near the large Martian out-flow channels. At that time, most planetary scientists did not think liquid water could have flowed on Mars. It was a great time to observe and participate in the scientific debate.
Advice for future STEMinists?
Don’t be afraid to follow your interests and passion…to a career that you truly enjoy. Seek out mentors who can help guide you in your career. Pass it on, and look for opportunities to mentor others.