Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New Jobs, New City, New Adventures!

I've been mum on my life's happenings recently. Now that it's all settled, I'm going to share with you what's going on. Comments and suggestions welcome!

STEM & Social Media Outreach

As someone guilty of taking on too much at once, I'm pleased to have I wrapped up two projects. At the start of June, my favorite conference returned from a three-year hiatus: the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference. I ran social media for the conference activities. I wish it wasn't over because I had a blast, but I'll be back next year.

I spent some time assisting Benignant STEM Innovation Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to educating students, especially girls, in developing countries and underserved areas. So inspirational! There are many potential opportunities for grants, fundraising, partnerships, collaborations, and projects for a new STEM nonprofit. The process can be daunting. I helped to point them on the right path.

Commercial Spaceflight Federation

I've been searching for a new space organization “home” for a few years now. When I attended the CSF spring members meeting last year, I felt it! But my former employer's membership dissolved along with its existence. I didn't let that stop me! I'm excited to be working with CSF again in whatever small ways I can. Right now I'm helping them identify sponsors and prepare for an upcoming FAA AST conference.

New Client

Starting Monday, I'll be an analyst for a new client. I love how global this company is, with colleagues around the world providing different perspectives. My first project will be a cool (and hot!) topic to start with! I'll write up a more detailed blog entry once I start work.


One of my biggest professional mistakes this year has been relying on others to conduct science. As a result, I waited and waited, and still haven't gotten my hands dirty. Either projects were delayed or I simply wasn't included. This is a poor way to do science collaboration. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I finally allowed myself time to brainstorm science recently, and an idea came to me.

How I wish I could tell you about the proposal I'm writing via Astralytical! I read an article explaining that science bloggers are hesitant to write about their unpublished work because they fear being scooped. I can tell you that's true. It's related to my expertise in planetary regolith and it touches upon human space habitation in a way I haven't seen before. I still need to complete a literature review to put this experiment in context. I may reach out to potential collaborators, but on my own terms.

Book Writing

I wrapped up the millennial panel interview process last month! But Adventures in Book Writing is on hold for now because I'm crazy busy and there's no deadline. Sorry! I'll get back to it by the end of the summer for sure.

Ohio, Here I Come

Coincidentally, my husband has been going through a job search as well. He just accepted a position at JP Morgan Chase in Columbus, Ohio. I've never even been to Ohio, but I grew up in the Philadelphia area of Pennsylvania, so I'm familiar with four seasons. We'll be moving within the month.

This is so bittersweet for me. I love Florida! I love living in this area so much that I moved here for undergrad, moved away to Huntsville, then moved back. I love the warm weather and the lack of snow and “real” winters. I love the beach, the water, the greenery, and the wildlife. I love the rocket launches and the space happenings. I love my friends and close-by family. I love the space community I've built here. It's going to be very hard for me to leave!

Glenn Research Center is one of the few NASA centers I've never been to, and it's only two hours from Columbus. Ohio State University is gigantic and has not only a physics department, but also an astronomy department, a cosmology & astroparticle department, and a planetarium, so I may find like-minded researchers and enthusiasts there. Ohio Aerospace Institute seems to be a smaller equivalent to Space Florida. I'll find my space peeps in Ohio, somewhere.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Sparklers & Rocket Launches

My husband holding the sparks

My husband and I were playing with sparklers last night in anticipation of the American Independence Day. Being the scientist I am, I immediately wondered about the shapes, colors, and chemical reactions of sparklers. I was able to find out a lot of information about the chemistry of these simple fireworks, which is so interesting! But I'm a physicist, I want to understand the physics.

In general, sparks are created when a strong electric field accelerates free electrons, creating ions and freeing more electrons. This creates an electrically conductive area, allowing for a sudden flow of electricity. However, this is not the kind of sparks that sparklers create.

Pyrotechnics, fire caused by chemical reactions, is what fuels sparkler fun. Sparklers burn metallic fuel explosively, producing branching sparks. Common sparkler fuels include aluminium, magnesium, magnalium, iron, titanium, and ferrotitanium. I don't understand the physics of the branching process and I was unable to find a resource describing it. If anyone reading this knows more, please comment below!

Fireworks are fascinating and beautiful, but fireworks of a bigger kind are even better. I'm still learning how to use my new telephoto lens, but I still managed to capture the powerful fireworks below. Happy birthday, America!

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch on May 27, 2016

SpaceX Falcon 9 launch on June 15, 2016

ULA Atlas V launch on June 24, 2016