I’ve always wanted to study space and be an astronaut. There are videos of
me from kindergarten saying I wanted to be an astronomer. I decided I wanted
to be an astronaut when I rode the Mission: Space ride at Disney World. I got
off the ride and wanted everything in the space-themed gift shop — movies,
books, clothes, everything. Following this decision, I convinced my mom to
let me go to space camp in high school. Since then, my dreams of becoming
an astronaut have never wavered.
WHAT WAS THE APPLICATION LIKE?
The first part is not that hard, actually. You fill out a résumé with academic
and employment history and answer some basic questions. The next levels
are much more in-depth. They try to cut everyone they can in the first round
and focus on academic and experience qualifications.
HOW MANY WOULD-BE ASTRONAUTS GET PICKED RIGHT AWAY?
Most astronauts aren’t selected until after multiple applications. Some
who are closely associated with the science or engineering aspect of a
specific mission may be chosen earlier. So, maybe in the future they will
want to go to the areas on the moon I’m studying for my PhD and that
could give me a boost.
HAVE YOU HEARD ANYTHING IN RESPONSE TO YOUR APPLICATION?
No word yet. Most astronauts don’t get selected the first time, so I have to
start racking up my rejections. (She laughs).
DID PURDUE’S ASTRONAUT LEGACY HELP ATTRACT YOU TO PURDUE?
No, but it is really cool to potentially add to it. The opportunity to work for
Professor Horgan was the reason I left my job in San Diego to come live in
the middle of Indiana.
WHAT KIND OF SPACE S TUDIES AND EXPERIENCE DID YOU HAVE COMING TO PURDUE?
My undergrad degree is in solar, earth, and planetary sciences at the Florida
Institute of Technology. It was a school built on the Space Coast near NASA
so people could continue their education during the space race. I had professors who were astronauts, professors married to astronauts, and many who
worked with NASA. If something launched, they would stop class, walk
outside, watch and then go back into the classroom. I also held three summer
internships and a fall co-op with NASA while working on my undergraduate
degree. Before starting graduate school, I worked as a member of the Mars
Curiosity Rover camera team at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego.
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT FOCUS?
I am in the second year of my PhD program. I’m working on mapping lunar
volcanic deposits using the Moon Mineralogy Mapper spacecraft instrument
and determining the style of eruption that may have created them. This
research will contribute to future exploration of the moon, and maybe one
day I will have the opportunity to explore them in person.
DISTANCE FROM SUN:
141.6 MILLION MI
FROM THE SUN
PLANET IN THE
LENGTH OF DAY:
55.7 MILLION MI2
RADIUS: 2,106 MI
GRAVIT Y: 3.711 M/S2
courtesy of NASA