Today is Ada Lovelace Day. Who is Ada Lovelace, you might ask? She lived in the mid-19th century and is considered by many to be the first computer programmer. The goal of Ada Lovelace Day is help celebrate and promote the achievements of women in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (aka, STEM).
Of course, we at Chandra always jump at the opportunity to highlight the role that women play not only in the scientific endeavors of the mission, but also the computer, engineering, and other critical functions of the observatory. You can meet some of these fascinating women through our blog series, Women in the High-Energy Universe (also in a printable pdf handout).
The organizers of the Ada Lovelace Day hope that this event will spur discussion and further awareness about the irreplaceable achievements women are responsible for in STEM fields. Hopefully, more people from all backgrounds are drawn toward STEM topics both during their education and once on their career paths. And we look forward to helping explore the Universe with anyone who wishes to join the journey.
Megan Watzke is the press officer for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. Her responsibilities include writing press releases, organizing press conferences, and more for newsworthy results from the telescope. She is also a co-investigator in the "From Earth to the Universe," "From Earth to the Solar System," and "Here, There and Everywhere" projects.
Stacie Powell is currently a Ph.D. student in astrophysics at Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, England. She also took a break this past summer to compete in the 10-meter diving platform competition for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Stacie took some time from her busy schedule to discuss her academic and career path thus far.
I have always had a very questioning mind and liked to learn how the physical processes and objects we see around us can be explained so simply by mathematics. The biggest question in life -- "How did we get here?" -- has always intrigued me. I find astronomy very rewarding as it provides small clues, which are beginning to be pieced together and help us answer this question and, ultimately, to understand the Universe we live in.
It's not every day that we can mention "Chandra" and the "Olympics" in the same sentence, but today we can. That's because Stacie Powell, who will compete in the 10-meter platform diving competition for Great Britain at the London Olympics beginning today, is also working on her Ph.D. in astrophysics.
April Jubett creates animations and videos to help explain Chandra’s discoveries in a visual way. Her work shows up most frequently as podcasts and short animations on the Chandra website.
I have always been interested in art and science, and the many connections between them. It started unconsciously, with a curiosity about the natural world around me and a fondness for drawing and trying to capture that world while learning more about it. When I found out that there are whole careers built on exploring the beauty and mystery of the universe, I thought, "Yeah, I can do that".
Dr. Giuseppina (Pepi) Fabbiano is a senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory where she studies, among other things, galaxies, black holes and the rest of the high-energy Universe using Chandra and other telescopes.
It would be fair to say that I stumbled into astronomy. I grew up in a family of teachers, professors and professionals, both men and women, and there never was any doubt that I had to go to university and then get a good job. I was a precocious learner and always ‘first of the class.’ I won the math prize in high school and was one of a busload of high school students from the whole of Italy rewarded with a prize visit to France.
Aneta Siemiginowska is an astrophysicist at the Chandra X-ray Center. In addition to her responsibilities for Chandra’s Science Data System group, she is actively involved is exploring the Universe, particularly its black holes and galaxies.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to learn about stars. The winter sky displayed the entire Universe right in front of me and I wanted to learn and understand the sky and the space. I do not think I understood what it meant to become an astronomer when I was a six year old, but each time somebody asked me what do I want to be when I grew up I answered, "I want to be an astronomer".
Kimberly Arcand has been a member of the Chandra Education & Public Outreach group since 1998. As the Media Production Coordinator, Kim's role includes oversight of a range of science outreach products and activities, including imaging and astronomical visualization, multimedia and print product development, exhibition creation and coordination, and development of museum/planetarium and broadcast products.
March 8th is International Women's Day (http://www.internationalwomensday.com/), an effort to mark the economic, political, and social achievement of women. From here at the Chandra blog, we'd like to extend that concept to include scientific achievements as well by highlighting our "Women in the High-Energy Universe" (http://chandra.harvard.edu/blog/taxonomy/term/19) series.
Melissa Weiss has been a graphic designer for the Chandra project for over a decade. Her work can be seen throughout Chandra's website as well as its print and multimedia products for students, teachers and the public.
I have to be honest, my career in astronomy happened organically. Part of me wants to say that, as a child, I always looked up at the stars and dreamed of what lay with them. But the reality is that my interests weren't really up with the stars, but down on canvas with paints, pens, and any other tool I could be creative with. Art has always been my passion.
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