Science Team Member, Deep Impact
What's the coolest thing about Deep Impact?
For me, Deep Impact is my first job out of grad school so that, in itself is really cool. As far as the project is concerned, it is amazing that we could remotely steer the Deep Impact spacecraft from Earth and have it actually hit a comet right where we had planned.
Why do you like working at University of Maryland?
I like working at the University of Maryland because I am from the state of Maryland and went here as an undergraduate. I have known many of the scientists (once my professors, now my colleagues) for many years. There is really a team atmosphere here.
What is your job on the Deep Impact project?
I joined the Deep Impact project a mere month before impact, so I have a lot to learn, but my expertise is analyzing data from the infrared spectrometer-these data tell us what molecules the comet is made of on the surface and below.
How did you end up in Space Science?
I wanted to be a planetary scientist when I was in the third grade and have stuck with it. I like math, science, and problem solving.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like boating, water and snow skiing, and scuba diving.
Who in your life inspired you?
Sally Ride and my parents (who are not scientists but always encouraged me).
What is one yet-to-be achieved life goal?
Now that I see how exciting and rewarding it is to be a part of a NASA mission, I'd like to be able to have a lead in a mission and see it through from start to finish. I also hope to inspire young scientists. If my name ever shows up in the "Who inspired you?" question - I know I have succeeded.
Were you science-oriented as a young person?
Yes, I have always liked and done well in the sciences. I took Chemistry AP in my senior year in high school for fun while my friends enrolled in other less demanding and non-science courses.
What was your favorite book as a young person?
To be honest, I didn't like to read as a kid. It was always painful when we got assignments to read novels for English class. Now, I enjoy reading most murder mysteries.
What did you want to become when you were young?
I have always wanted to become a planetary scientist. I loved the space curriculum we had in the third grade and I studied Saturn when I was in the fifth grade. Eleven years later, I completed my undergraduate thesis on Saturn as well and studied Jupiter's moon Io in graduate school.
If you weren't working in space exploration now, what might you be doing?
I'd probably be crunching numbers somewhere or writing computer code as my occupation because that is what I am best suited to do. Although I do love to plan vacations, so I could see myself working with numbers in the accounting/financial office of a cruise line or something.