Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Career Profiles: Astrophysicist/Planetary Scientist to Program Officer: Dr. Melissa Morris

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers, planetary scientists, etc. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Melissa Morris, an astronomer and planetary scientist who is currently a NASA program officer contracted through Artic Slope Technical Services.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. New Career Profiles are posted approximately every month.

Friday, August 4, 2017

AASWomen for August 4, 2017

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of August 4, 2017
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Women in Leadership: Power
2. How Sexual Harassment And Bias Undermine Women’s Access To Scientific Careers
3. The Plan to End Science’s Sexist #Manel Problem
4. Study Tracks Gender Ratios at Conferences
5. Advice to the Young from Pioneering Astrophysicist Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Who Discovered the Composition of the Universe
6. Women Breaking Barriers: Career Advice from Leading Women in Business, Technology, and Beyond
7. Job Opportunities
8. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
9. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
10. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Women in Leadership: Power


I’ve had many bosses. Two were great, several were mediocre, and a few were simply awful. I can count one sexual harasser, one bully, and at least one liar. One taught me the difference between leadership and management. None taught me about power. So when I attended the “Women in Business – Transitioning to Leadership” workshop at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School in May, I wasn’t expecting my ideas about power to change. When Dr. Mabel Miguel, Professor of Organizational Behavior at UNC and the facilitator of our Tuesday afternoon session asked us if we thought power was good or bad, the thing that came to mind was the old quote from Lord Acton, "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I thought power was bad. Over the course of the next four hours, Dr. Miguel completely changed my mind. Not only is power not bad (what you do with it can be bad), but for me, “Power is good” became the single most important take-away of the workshop. Here are the objectives of the session:

• Help you understand power, politics, and influence in leadership and their role in organizations.
• Help you identify your power attitudes and sources.
• Discuss best approaches to influencing others and increase your ability to do so.
• Enable you to transfer the skills to your current job.

In our optional evening “after-sessions,” which took place in the bar or around the fire pit, members of my class agreed that the last bullet was an essential component of a successful session. We were here to learn, but this workshop was not just an academic exercise. We were here to become better managers and leaders. So what did the session offer me that was so personally “powerful?”

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Career Profile: Astronomer and Group Lead: Dr. Van Dixon

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers, planetary scientists, etc. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.


Below is our interview with Van Dixon, an astronomer who recently moved from instrument scientist to manager at STScI.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. New Career Profiles are posted approximately every month.

Friday, July 21, 2017

AASWomen Newsletter for July 21, 2017

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of July 21, 2017
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Cristina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Worse than it seems
2. Why your brain hates other people and how to make it think differently
3. Gender and Physics Day
4. Girls set AP Computer Science record…skyrocketing growth outpaces boys
5. Jocelyn Bell Burnell wins President's Medal of the Institute of Physics
6. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
7. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
8. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

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Tuesday, July 11, 2017

AAS press release: New Survey Highlights Gender, Racial Harassment in Astronomy







Social scientists Kate Clancy (left) and Katherine Lee (left center) collaborated with space physicist/astrophysicist Erica Rodgers (right center) and planetary scientist Christina Richey (right) to conduct a study of workplace climate among planetary science and astronomy professionals. Credits: L. Brian Stauffer, Katherine Lee, Mark Heusinkveld & David Estrada Larrañeta/Explora, respectively. 


Women of color working in astronomy and planetary science report more gender and racial harassment than any other group in the field, according to a new study revealing widespread harassment in these scientific disciplines.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Career Profile: Planetary Scientist: Dr. Kelsi Singer

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers, planetary scientists, etc. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Photo credit: Rayna Tedford
Below is our interview with Dr. Kelsi Singer, a planetary scientist who is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Southwest Research Institute.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. New Career Profiles are posted approximately every month.

Friday, June 30, 2017

AASWomen Newsletter for June 30, 2017

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of June 30, 2017
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Women in Leadership: Networks         
2. Scholar Spotlight: Adrianna Perez
3. Astrobiology: Hunting aliens  
4. How science got women wrong
5. Job Opportunities
6. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
7. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
8. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Women in Leadership: Networks


 As you make the transition from scientist to manager, you may realize that the technical and mathematical skills that got you where you are won’t help as much as you advance. Although (when mixed with a bit of intuition and common sense) they may be sufficient at lower levels, like department chair, group lead, or principal investigator, these abilities alone will not be enough as you move to higher levels. Even though your undergrad and graduate curricula were packed full of requirements, you may reach a point when you lament that you never took a management course. Your success will depend less and less on the skills that made you a successful scientist and more and more on your human competencies. In a community that is dominated by introverts, this is a particularly troubling realization, and an individual with even mild extroverted tendencies has a natural advantage. There is a joke I heard while I was working in the Astronomy Division at NSF. Question: How do you tell if someone is an extrovert? Answer: When they pass you in the hall, they look at your shoes. It is sort of funny only because it is so true. I worked on the Math and Physical Sciences floor – the directorate that includes Math, Physics, Chemistry, Materials, and Astronomy. I can’t tell you the number of times I passed someone in the hall, and they looked down. I found I had to really focus on keeping eye contact and saying something simple like, “Good morning.” So imagine how an individual in this community of introverts feels when they learn that their career advancement now depends on the one thing they were never good at (and never had to be) - their ability to develop effective working relationships with key individuals.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

First Summary Blog post: Work-Life Balance

There are over 1000 blog posts on the women in astronomy blog! The summary blog posts are a series of posts that summarize some of the major topics covered in the women in astronomy blog. They are intended to be part summary of topics covered as well as to add some updated information on those topics. Please suggest other topics in the comments!

Sometimes the best work-life balance is to do both at the same time! One of my hobbies is to play with various aspects of 3D printing. I am demonstrating what my 3D printer can do at the annual Institute for Astronomy Open House
The first topic for the summary blog posts is on work-life balance. Why? Because it's Sunday, and I'm splitting my day between writing this blog post, preparing for an upcoming conference, and keeping the Pan-STARRS processing moving along.  Clearly, I need to work on my work-life balance.  Since I don't have kids, I'm primarily interested in how to make it so that I do more than just work.  For me, posts that discuss how to set boundaries, how to say no to things, and how to set a reasonable number of hours to work are what I consider 'work-life balance'. When writing this post, I discovered that the majority of the blog posts on work-life balance are geared towards balancing a family and a career. However, I caution it's not just the women (and men!) with children that want to manage work-life balance, this is something that probably all of us can work on. Making a workplace culture more flexible and family friendly helps everyone out.  


I did a search for 'work-life balance' on this blog, and came up with 174 matching entries.  I sifted through all of these, sorted and culled them, found updated links, and organized them into several categories. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Meet The CSWA: Cristina Thomas



In our newest series on the Women in Astronomy blog, we'd like to introduce our readers to the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy.  Cristina Thomas is a research scientist with the Planetary Science Institute. She received her undergraduate degree from Caltech and her Ph.D. from MIT. After graduating she had postdocs at Northern Arizona University and NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia.

Describe the first time you made a personal connection with the planets and stars?

When I was young, Voyager completed its reconnaissance of the Solar System. I had this amazing book that was full of great pictures of all the planets and short descriptions of what we knew about them. I absolutely loved that book. I went looking for it a few years ago because it had been so incredibly influential to my life. I never found it, but I can remember so much about it.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

eAlliances : An Invitation to Join a Mutual Mentoring Network

This post was submitted as a guest post in preparation for the Women in Astronomy IV Meeting.

Have you ever felt isolated at a department meeting and thought “Maybe it’s just me, but…”? Perhaps you are the only woman faculty member in your department, or the only faculty woman of color at your institution or maybe the only astronomer within a neutron star radius (10 km).  Perhaps you have heard that networking and mentoring can help combat the isolation you feel, but how can you grow your own mentoring network? An NSF ADVANCE grant entitled “Mutual Mentoring to Combat Isolation in Physics” might help you do just that.

The first NSF-funded mutual mentoring group (2007-10). The five members were all full professors at liberal arts colleges. From left, Amy Graves of Swarthmore College, Barbara Whitten of Colorado College, Anne Cox of Eckerd College, Cindy Blaha of Carleton College, and Linda Fritz of Franklin & Marshall College.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Becoming Inclusive

Jessica Mink writes astronomical
software at the Smithsonian
Astrophysical Observatory



It's getting harder to decide whether to commit to conferences, what with the Texas Senate having passed SB6, the discriminatory bill about which I wrote in January. The possibility that the Speaker of the Texas House might be unable to stop its momentum delayed my registration for Women in Astronomy IV in Austin for a while, but I'll be there on a panel discussing our Inclusive Astronomy Recommendations. As a member of a class which seems to be under siege in much of the United(?) States, I have found that the best way to gain allies is to be an ally to as many groups as I can. Making astronomy more diverse and inclusive has become a major goal of my professional life.

In the other long-term activist part of my life, I have learned that if you want to make progress, there are three levels of work: 1) as an individual, 2) as part of a group with agreed-upon goals, and 3) inside the system. I don't mind meetings, so I tend to try to do all three. In addition to simply being my intersectional self, I've been working both within the American Astronomical Society as a member of both the Committee on the Status of Women (CSWA) and the Committee for Sexual orientation and Gender identity Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA), and outside, on the organizing committee for Inclusive Astronomy (IA).

A few months ago, I gave a presentation connecting our activities as a profession to better include LGBTQ+ astronomers to the National Organization of Lesbian and Gay Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP) at their "Out to Innovate" conference, which this year was held conveniently near my home base of Boston. At that meeting, I learned that astronomy is ahead of other STEM disciplines in that we're trying to include not just one group excluded by gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, but to look at barriers which can affect any of them.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Leavitt Law Revisited

In November 2008, Harvard hosted a symposium to honor the 100th anniversary of Henrietta Leavitt's first presentation on her observations of the period-luminosity relationship seen in Cepheid stars. 

Just a few months later, the AAS Executive Council agreed that this important relation should now be designated as the “Leavitt Law" and  used widely.

I had never heard of this new phrasing until I read Dava Sobel's 2016 book The Glass Universe. I immediately changed my course and lecture notes to reflect this new language. Give credit where credit is due, is a good philosophy to have!

So, to my colleagues I suggest that summer is a great time to update your course and lab notes, worksheets, exams/quizzes, homework assignments, etc., replacing any phrasing related to "period-luminosity relationship" with "the Leavitt Law".  Even better, grab some images and information from the talks posted on the symposium website!

Friday, May 26, 2017

AASWomen Newsletter for May 26, 2017

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 26, 2017
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Peer Review as a Lens Into Bias        
2. Is This How Discrimination Ends?
3. Scholarships for Women and Grants for Mothers Added to AAS Resource Page
4. How Women Mentors Make a Difference in Engineering
5. Pearl I. Young
6. Job Opportunities
7. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
8. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
9. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Peer Review as a Lens Into Bias

I have been working to incorporate themes of equity and inclusion into my physics classroom teaching. I’ve blogged about it a bit and some of you have kindly shared your ideas (see here, here, and here). 

In a recent upper-level Astrophysics course, I assigned students a term paper, and required that they participate in a double-blind peer review for their first drafts. (We used a tool called “Peerceptiv” because my University has integrated it into our learning management system, but there are many ways to include peer review in your curriculum.) I wasn’t originally intending this assignment to lead to a conversation about bias, but my students came to me with concerns about the “fairness” of the process: What if another student had a poor opinion of the topic they selected? What if their reviewers didn’t do a good job? Why were we doing it blind, so they didn’t know whose review to take more or less seriously, based on their experience of that student? How could they properly review the paper if they didn’t know who wrote it?

Friday, May 19, 2017

AASWomen Newsletter for May 19, 2017

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of May 19, 2017
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Women in Leadership: It’s Not Just About Confidence    
2. Astronomers Elected to National Academy of Sciences
3. Childcare Opportunity at MetSoc
4. Caltech Students Protest Return of Professor From Suspension
5. Five Ways to Move Beyond the March: A Guide for Scientists Seeking Strong, Inclusive Science
6. We Recorded VCs’ Conversations and Analyzed How Differently They Talk About Female Entrepreneurs
7. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
8. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
9. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Women in Leadership: It’s Not Just About Confidence


In her 2014 eye-opening article for the Harvard Business Review, author Tara Sophia Mohr discussed Why Women Don’t Apply for Jobs Unless They’re 100% Qualified:

You’ve probably heard the following statistic: Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them. The finding comes from a Hewlett Packard internal report, and has been quoted in Lean In, The Confidence Code, and dozens of articles. It’s usually invoked as evidence that women need more confidence. As one Forbes article put it, “Men are confident about their ability at 60%, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list.” The advice: women need to have more faith in themselves.

Fortunately, Mohr was skeptical of these findings and decided to survey over a thousand men and women, predominantly American professionals. She asked them, “If you decided not to apply for a job because you didn’t meet all the qualifications, why didn’t you apply?” She discovered that the barrier to applying was not lack of confidence, at least according to the self-reporting of the respondents. In fact, according to the table below, “I didn’t think I could do the job well” was the least common of all the responses for both men and women.


Although it is certainly true that many of us could use an extra dose of confidence, if we listened only to the advice from the Lean In/Confidence Code bull horn, we would be doing ourselves a great disservice. We would be internalizing and personalizing the problem, putting all the weight of this dilemma on our own shoulders (sound familiar?), and assuming that the external environment, the world out there, was a level playing field. The bottom line is that there is more to it than just confidence (internal), and this missing societal component (external) is fundamentally important.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Career Profile: Planetary Geologist: Dr. Justin Filiberto

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers, planetary scientists, etc. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Justin Filiberto, a planetary scientist/geologist working at Southern Illinois University and The Open University.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. New Career Profiles are posted approximately every month.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Cross-Post: Astronomy in Color: Student Highlight: Sydney Duncan

Sydney Duncan, Physics & Dance, University of Utah
(Left photo by Sydney's father. Right photo by Luke Isley)
This is a cross post from the Astronomy in Color blog. The Astronomy in Color blog has an entire series of posts highlighting the amazing next generation of scientists in our field. This cross-post features Sydney Duncan. This interview was done by CSMA member Nicole Cabrera Salazar.

Biography

Sydney Duncan is a native of Dallas, where she trained in classical ballet at Tuzer Ballet and Texas Ballet Theatre School. At Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, she studied saxophone, voice, and dance. Duncan then attended University of Utah, where she double majored in ballet and physics and performed with Utah Ballet. She has attended summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre, Ballet West, Atlanta Ballet, LINES Ballet, Ailey, Oklahoma City Ballet, Dallas Ballet Dance Theatre, and Hubbard Street. She completed Astrophysics REUs at University of Oklahoma and University of Chicago. At the University of Utah she conducted research on the chemical abundances of globular clusters with Dr. Inese Ivans. She is now dancing professionally in New York City.

Friday, April 14, 2017

AASWomen Newsletter for April 14, 2017

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of April 14, 2017
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. Career Profile: Astronomer to Assistant Professor/Head, Astronomy Lab/Curator, Meteorites  
2. Nominate a Worthy Scientist for a Prize from the AAS    
3. Tackling Sexual Harassment in Science: A Long Road Ahead
4. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
5. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
6. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Career Profile: Astronomer to Assistant Professor/Head, Astronomy Lab/Curator, Meteorites

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers, planetary scientists, etc. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Rachel L. Smith, an astronomer who is Head of the Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Lab, and Curator of Meteorites at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Appalachian State University.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. New Career Profiles are posted approximately every month.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Women In Astronomy IV - Join us!




I'm excited to share with you a project we've been working on for months. The next "Women in Astronomy" conference is coming up quick, June 9-11th in Austin, Texas (right after the Summer AAS meeting).

What should you join us (especially after a grueling but delightful summer AAS?)

The meeting will be panels, workshops, and fantastic plenaries. We are focused on getting folks the skills and experiences they are looking for, and hoping to help build collaborations and alliances. There will be the opportunity to share your work via posters, and several different mixers and opportunities to meet up and find new research collaborators!

Some highlights include a panel on "Engaging the Nashville Recommendations" (recommendations can be found here, a result of the powerful Inclusive Astronomy meeting from June 2015), workshops on Bystander Intervention and Anti-Racism training, and a hack session on demographics - what questions should we be asking, and how? We will discuss the progress we have made and the work we still have to do to support all women in astrophysics, and create a truly inclusive field.

Please join us! You can register here, and let me (or any of the other organizing committee members) know if you have burning questions we can answer. We look forward to seeing you in Austin. Early registration ends on April 15th, so sign up now!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Career Profile: Research Administrator to Deputy Principal Investigator

The AAS Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy and the AAS Employment Committee have compiled dozens of interviews highlighting the diversity of career trajectories available to astronomers, planetary scientists, etc. The interviews share advice and lessons learned from individuals on those paths.

Below is our interview with Heather Enos, a Masters in Business Administration who is the Deputy Principal Investigator of the OSIRIS-REx (Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Regolith Explorer) mission.

For access to all our Career Profile Project interviews, please visit http://aas.org/jobs/career-profiles. New Career Profiles are posted approximately every month.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Guest Post: Confessions of a Teaching-Focused Astronomer

Our guest post today is from Dr. Jillian Bellovary. Jillian Bellovary is an Assistant Professor of Physics at Queensborough Community College in Queens, New York. She is also a research scientist at the American Museum of Natural History and serves on the Committee for the Status of Minorities in Astronomy. She is passionate about equity & inclusion, knitting, and roller derby.

In August 2016 I started a tenure-track position at Queensborough Community College, which is part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system and located in Bayside, Queens.  This job is my dream job, and one I’ve been aiming for for quite a while.  But I didn’t always know this was what I wanted, and I’ve definitely felt like I’m not supposed to want a job like this.  Thus I’d like to share my story.

Friday, March 10, 2017

AASWomen Newsletter for March 10, 2017

AAS Committee on the Status of Women
Issue of March 10, 2017
eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Flewelling, Christina Thomas, and Maria Patterson

This week's issues:

1. A daily routine    
2. The Gender Gap in Publications
3. Why Did the House Science Committee Overlook NASA's Former Chief Scientist? 
4. Here’s What a Day Without Women Will Actually Look Like
5. Jocelyn Bell Burnell: Astrophysicist says women in science need culture change 
6. How to Submit to the AASWomen Newsletter
7. How to Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the AASWomen Newsletter
8. Access to Past Issues of the AASWomen Newsletter

Monday, March 6, 2017

A daily routine

I approach each morning with a certain tension. I pick up my phone (a terrible way to start the day, you’d think I’d have figured that out by now, I definitely do not recommend it.). I skim twitter, the New York Times, and whatever else has accumulated overnight. It isn’t that there wasn't oppression or ordeals before - but I (perhaps delusionally) thought I knew the shape of them. Now there is a certain wild card feel that I can’t quite shake.

But maybe it is just because I hate going to the obvious place - people who are marginalized will be openly targeted for the foreseeable future. And it is on us (us reading this, us who are privileged in one way or another, us who can leverage something in a given moment) to hold the line. 

Today, a few shoes dropped (how can there be so many shoes? There are so many shoes.).

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Meet the CSWA: Chair Pat Knezek


In our newest series on the Women in Astronomy blog, we'd like to introduce our readers to the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy.  Today's post features the newly appointed Chair of the CSWA, Dr. Patricia Knezek! She will be serving as Chair as a private citizen.

Dr. Patricia (Pat) Knezek joined the National Science Foundation (NSF) in March 2013, and served as the Deputy Division Director of the Division of Astronomical Sciences in the Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences (MPS) for three years. She then became a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Director of MPS and just completed a year assignment to the Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure in the Directorate of Computer & Information Science & Engineering. Prior to joining the NSF she had been with the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) as a staff scientist since 2001. While there she worked primarily with WIYN Consortium, Inc. (WIYN), a partnership of the University of Wisconsin, Indiana University, Yale University, and NOAO that runs two optical telescopes on Kitt Peak Mountain outside of Tucson, Arizona. She served as WIYN's Instrumentation Project Manager (2001-2005), Deputy Director (2005-2010), and then Director (2010-2013). She has also held positions at the Space Telescope Science Institute, The Johns Hopkins University, the Carnegie Institution of Washington, and the University of Michigan. She obtained her bachelor's degree in astronomy from the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, in 1985, and her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1993.

Pat has been active in issues of diversity and inclusion for her entire career. She previously served on Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy from 2002 – 2008 (chair 2003 – 2007). Some of her activities have included leading the development of “Equity Now! The Pasadena Recommendations for Gender Equality in Astronomy,” launching (with Rachel Ivie of the American Institute of Physics) the AdHoc group that developed the Longitudinal Study of Astronomy Graduate Students, and developing the Anti-Harassment Policy for AAS.