Like most people, I have many hobbies. Some of these are horseback riding, white-water river rafting, spelonking (caving), hiking, and costuming.
My absolute favorite thing to do is look at the stars. I have my very own 8-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain reflector telescope that I bring out on
clear nights from time to time to gaze at the many wonderful celestial objects visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
I became interested in astronomy a little over ten years ago when I took a continuing education course at Emory University's
Evening at Emory program. My instructor was Dr. Jim Sowell from the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI). He introduced me to a wonderful
man named Dr. Richard Williamon who used to work at Fernbank Science Center and took me under his wing as an Observatory Assistant.
Later, I became a board committee member for the Atlanta Astronomy Club.
The real person who inspired me about space as a little girl (and still
does today) is my uncle, Charles Mauldin. He is retired now, but he used
to work with NASA as an engineer out of Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, Alabama. One of his jobs was working on the team that
designed the Lunar Rover which astronauts drove on the moon. He also
was the project engineer for the electrical systems on the third stage
(S-IVB) of the Apollo lunar launch vehicle, the Saturn V. One of his
last jobs was to lead the design integration team for the Space Shuttle
Solid Rocket Booster. He was on an engineering support console in the
launch control center at Kennedy Space Center for 61 Shuttle launches.
I took all of my inspiration and experience and went back to school later in life to pursue a Bachelor's degree at Georgia State University.
The only problem was that there was no planned curriculum that fit my interests. So I developed one with the help of my advisor Dr. David Wingert. I studied Astronomy, Geology, 3D Animation,
Journalism and Marketing to build myself a nice, well-rounded course of study. Because of this, I received an internship as a Science Writer in
Georgia State's Department of University Relations where I wrote several articles on the topics of astronomy, immunology, virology, and psychology.
During my internship, I subscribed to NASA's JPL newsgroup. One day I saw a press release stating that NASA was looking for people to apply for their
Solar System Ambassador program. I became very excited because I thought the prospect of becoming an ambassador for space sounded really cool and fit nicely given my
past experience and newly acquired skills! I sent my application in and was appointed to the Solar System Ambassador program in January of 2002.
During the last four years, I've conducted over 40 public outreach events ~ mainly for schools and public libraries. I've also been featured on our local NPR affiliate WABE FM 90.1 as well
as featured in two Apogee books entitled Women of Space: Cool Careers of the Final Frontier and Sex in Space by science writer and fellow Solar System Ambassador
Laura S. Woodmansee.
My favorite outreach events involve working with students-of-all-ages who never grow tired of learning.