Where are you from?
I am from California. I live both near the mountains and close to the center of town, and so taking a hike, or going shopping is just minutes away by foot. And since I live near the mountains I often see deer, bears and raccoons. One time there was even a large mountain lion in my backyard.
Describe the first time you made a personal connection with outer space.
|"Be a reader. The more|
you read the more you
have contact with great choices
of words and thoughts."
I remember visiting the Griffith Park Observatory for the first time with my family. We saw a presentation on the planets there.
Sitting in the main auditorium, I leaned my head back on the chair and looked up at the display above and listened to the presentation tell us all about the planets and their attributes. Then it began to tell us about the now dwarf planet Pluto, and a picture of Mickey's sidekick appeared. (I thought this was funny.)
A mission to this world was planned for in the future, and we were told that a spacecraft would take almost ten years to get there. Ten years! It was then that I realized the vastness of space, and I was astounded by it. (The mission, NASA's New Horizons, launched for Pluto in 2006 and will arrive in 2015).
How did you end up working in the space program?
I love being a bit of an explorer, and I found I could use my skills as an analyzer and writer for NASA's newly revamped Solar System Exploration website.
Who inspired you?
Two astronauts have inspired me. And one of those is astronaut Stan Love. He inspired me (not so much that he is an astronaut; that in itself is very inspiring) because he is very much alive in his whole manner. When I saw him speak and met him afterward I could tell that he was genuinely interested in his work and that he took pleasure from it. This is one example I follow in my work.
What is a Science Writer?
I do investigative research on scientists, the solar system and space missions and then write profiles and stories for each.
Tell us about a favorite moment so far in your career.
As a writer, I enjoy turning a phrase just right, so that it is catchy and memorable. I also enjoy interviewing some of the nation's most notable scientists. It is very exciting.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to take the same career path as you?
Be a reader. It's true. The more you read the more you have contact with great choices of words and thoughts. Reading will help you too to become someone who is able to communicate through writing.
What do you do for fun?
I am a bit of a swinger. I go swing dancing a lot. (Think dancing to Benny Goodman.) It is so much fun! Besides that I love to play "Ultimate Frisbee" with my friends (it is a bit like football, but only with a Frisbee), read good books and watch highly quotable movies. (Half the point of going to see a movie is so you can laugh and talk about it afterward!)
If you were talking to a student interested in science and math or engineering, what advice would you give them?
Keep current, and you will learn at the same time. Science is particularly an ever changing field and a good idea is to supplement your studies by reading science magazines and watching the latest findings on television. And when you don't understand something look it up, that way you will be that much smarter.
Last Updated: 3 June 2014
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