Angela Des Jardins
Montana State University
Angela Des Jardins is part of NASA's Science Activation Program (SciAct). SciAct has projects and NASA teams across the U.S. that are helping learners of all ages do science!
What first sparked your interest in science, technology, engineering, and/or math?
I have always liked math and science and my love for all things space began when I received an astronomy book full of amazing images when I was six. My imagination went wild, dreaming about what could be out there and how I could participate in discoveries.
What Science Activation project(s) are you affiliated with?
I am the Principal Investigator for the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project.
From 2015 to 2022, I was also involved on the Heliophysics Education Activation Team.
Tell us about your job. What do you do?
I'm very lucky - I have a job that allows me to work with researchers and I get to do fun, hands-on education with college students. I am the director of Montana Space Grant Consortium and Montana NASA EPSCoR, am an Associate Research Professor at Montana State University, and I lead the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project. With my Space Grant team, I create and run workforce development programs that are available to all STEM college students in Montana.
Engaging college students is rewarding because these students translate experiential learning opportunities into awesome careers.
In NASA EPSCoR, I help junior faculty members start NASA-related research. Working with all kinds of faculty members is exciting because I get to learn about the amazing discoveries they are making.
For Eclipse Ballooning, I work with a team of professors from around the country to teach teams how to fly stratospheric research balloons (no people onboard!) and record observations about solar eclipses. The Eclipse project is a lot of work, but it makes me proud that lots of students from many locations can be involved in cutting-edge research.
What's one piece of advice you would give to someone interested in learning more about science?
My best piece of advice is to be curious! Ask all kinds of questions and the questions will keep getting more interesting.
What is your favorite science image or visualization, and why?
My favorite science image is Saturn's moon Iapetus. This moon has several intriguing features, including very light and very dark regions, a tall ridge around it's equator, and a large Death-Star-like crater.
Who inspires you?
People who stand up for themselves, for what's right, and for others.
What are some fun facts about yourself? (Hobbies, cool places you've been, personal anecdotes, etc.)
I am a big reader - especially science fiction. I love to hike and be in nature, especially in the mountains. I've been on national TV several times, sharing the Nationwide Eclipse Ballooning Project. I have two kids that make me smile constantly. I have a severe auto-immune disorder that while sometimes challenging, makes me resilient.