Teaching, Outreach, and Diversity

Teaching Experience

Selected Outreach Efforts

AstroCamp

Inaugurated in the summer of 2013, the annual Ohio 4-H Astro Camp provides middle school students with a week of activities focusing on space science themes, including rockets, astrobiology, black holes, comets, and more. The camp’s approach focuses on hands-on, investigative activities using simple, easily-obtainable materials, to reinforce the idea that science is not limited to the classroom but is something accessible to all.
Campers also meet and talk to astronomers, physicists, and engineers from NASA and The Ohio State University. These “real scientists” include both men and women, spanning graduate students to retired technicians, from many different countries, and demonstrate to campers first-hand the true diversity of professional scientists.

Making comets out of soil, dry ice, water, organic compounds, and lots of pressure!.

Dark Skies Bright Kids!

DSBK was featured in the September 2010 issue of Albemarle Family (now Charlottesville Family).

Dark Skies Bright Kids! is an after-school program, based at the University of Virginia, aimed at bringing hands-on science activities to rural elementary schools. These schools enjoy some of the darkest night skies around, but also often face challenging socioeconomic situations. We seek to help students take advantage of their (increasingly rare) natural nighttime classroom, and to encourage curiosity and scientific exploration with fun, interactive activities!
I have been involved since the club's inception in 2009, among other things working to develop activity plans and put together a children's book, to be published soon. The most memorable moments by far, however, are from the interactions with the students (especially where comet mud is involved!).

Public Talks and Events

I have given public talks in a variety of venues, including the historic Leander McCormick Observatory and the amateur astronomer societies of Charlottesville, Richmond, and Washington, DC. I have also been involved in numerous outreach events reaching audiences of all ages and scientific literacy levels. These events always impress me with the breadth of interest in science from people of such a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds!

Diversity Advocacy

Diversity in the academic community — diversity of experience and thought, fostered by diversity of race, gender, and socioeconomic upbringing, among others — must be actively promoted to ensure the most effective research and educational outcomes. Efforts to be inclusive towards under-represented populations, along with awareness of the need for diversity and of preconceptions and implicit bias that all humans hold, have an enormous impact on increasing diversity and, consequently, the quality of work produced by the community.