Curiosity about the solar system has been the driving force behind my career as a planetary geochemist, NASA mission science team member, asteroid miner, and applied planetary scientist.
After earning a Ph.D. in planetary geochemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I worked on NASA’s MESSENGER mission to Mercury. I leveraged that mission experience as Director of Data Products at Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company. There I led a team in the science definition of an asteroid prospecting mission.
From this experience, I found my passion for working in NewSpace at the intersection of planetary science and space mission engineering. Now as an Applied Planetary Scientist at First Mode, I provide innovative commercial solutions to the engineering challenges faced by earth and planetary scientists who seek to robotically explore our solar system.
I also share my experiences as a planetary scientist worked at the intersections—the colliding worlds—of academia & commercial space and scientists & engineers in my blog, Colliding Worlds:
Every time a spaceflight failure occurs, the phrase “space is hard” will invariably be uttered in response. What is it that makes space so hard?
I organized a successful panel about non-academic careers at a planetary science conference. However, I had previously underestimated the level of toxicity regarding nontraditional career paths despite having experienced it firsthand.
The first step in effecting change is admitting that there is a problem. In order to disrupt the status quo, the planetary science community must first make changes in our culture and assumptions regarding missions.
All too often, Ph.D. students leave grad school with no idea of how to find jobs outside a traditional academic or research career track. If you’re in that boat, here are some resources to get started.
Interested in working in commercial space but not sure which companies to target in your job search? Check out this map of the NewSpace ecosystem.
With the advances in small satellite technology and the success of the MarCO CubeSats at Mars, it's time to revisit lessons from NASA's 1990s Faster, Better, Cheaper era.
One of the most critical elements of a successful space mission is effective communication between two species: scientists and engineers.
Here are some resources for figuring out what non-academic career options might be available to you.
I want to break this stigma of leaving academia by describing why I left. I didn’t have anyone to turn to who could validate my feelings, so I hope that I can do that for others.
I left academia because I didn’t feel like it was the right environment for me, despite my love of planetary science. Here I describe my journey going from academia into industry.