My interest in astronomy was piqued by many trips to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum while I was growing up in Maryland and fostered by conversations and small summer research projects done with Massimo Robberto, an astrophysicist and family friend.  Since museums and personal interactions with scientists were so important to my own scientific career, I seek to contribute to the educational mission of science museums and share my research with the general public.  I was a public liaison for the Berkeley Astronomy Department for four years, helping to organize outreach events and answering questions and requests for interviews from the general public.  I was also the Astronomy coordinator for the Society of Women in the Physical Sciences at Berkeley for four years, helping to organize monthly dinners and professional development workshops, and participating in the SWPS mentoring program.  Some of the outreach events and programs I have participated in are listed below.

At Cal Day, explaining the parallax method of determining distances to nearby stars using a demo designed with other grad students.

At Cal Day, explaining the parallax method of determining distances while a girl looks at glow-in-the-dark “stars” through different eyeholes in this demo that I designed together with other grad students.  Photo credit: Ryan Trainor

Recurring Events

  • Cambridge Explores the Universe, part of the Cambridge Science Festival – I have helped out with hands-on activities for kids and talked about my research at the Ask-an-Astronomer booth.
  • Bay Area Science Festival – I have helped to coordinate and volunteered at several events as part of this annual festival: star parties, science booths at local farmers’ markets, solar viewing and astronomy hands-on activities at the festival finale event at AT&T Park.
  • Cal Day – I help to organize and lead activities at this annual event, when all Berkeley departments open their doors to the general public, showcase their research, and engage people of all ages with demonstrations and activities.  Astronomy activities include solar viewing, inflatable planetarium shows, and demos.
  • Star parties – I’ve brought telescopes to local schools to show students a deeper view of the night sky.

One-time events

  • Hands-on presentation/story on stellar life cycles titled “Albi & Reo: a star story” for pre-K to 3rd graders in July 2016
  • Public talk for the San Jose Astronomical Association in San Jose, CA in June 2016 on high-mass X-ray binaries and gravitational waves
  • Public talk for the Eastbay Astronomical Society at Chabot Space & Science Center, Oakland, CA in June 2015 on high-mass X-ray binaries
  • Solar viewing at Berkeley Sunday Streets in October 2014 with Science@Cal
  • Expanding Your Horizons Conference for Middle School Girls – In March 2012, I helped develop and present a hands-on workshop entitled Astronomy: the “light” side of science at the annual EYH conference in Berkeley.
  • Public talk at the Imiloa Astronomy Center, Hilo, HI in August 2009 on my REU project: “The Mysterious World of Luminous Infrared Galaxies (LIRGs)”

Volunteer programs

  • Chabot Space & Science Center volunteer in Spring 2013, helping at the solar viewing station every other week
  • CoachArt volunteer in Fall 2012, developing and doing fun astronomy activities once a week with a seven-year old
At the Berkeley Sunday Streets event, talking about the origin of sunspots and solar flares.

At the Berkeley Sunday Streets event, viewing the Sun and talking about sunspots and solar flares.  Photo credit: Rachel Winheld