Women of the UofA Lunar Planetary Lab

Commencement time at my alma mater, the University of Arizona (UofA), always brings to mind my wonderful tenure in Tucson. It also reminds me that there are not enough women in astronomy and planetary science; all of my professors in these subjects were men.

Today I would like to highlight the women faculty members of the Lunar Planetary Lab at the UofA. You can click on each name to be directed to their web site for more information about their research at the UofA.

Caitlin Griffith – Professor, Planetary atmospheres. I had the pleasure of hearing her at one of several talks given by the department on current research about Titan. Something you may not know is that she was in Thailand during the 2004 Indian earthquake.

Renu Malhotra – Professor, Solar system dynamics.

Ilaria Pascucci – Assistant Professor, Planetary formation and evolution.

Tamara Rogers – Professor, Planetary atmospheres.

Elizabeth Roemer – Professor Emerita, Comets, minor planets; astrometry.

Marcia Neugebauer – Research Scientist (Adjunct). Her website at the UofA is limited, so check out the UANews article Physicist Honored for Discoveries About the Sun and Wikipedia here.

Elisabetta Pierazzo – Lecturer (Adjunct). Her website at the UofA is limited, so please check out her page at the Planetary Science Institute.

Elizabeth P. Turtle – Assistant Research Scientist (Adjunct). Again, she has a limited website at the UofA, so find out more about her here. I also had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Turtle speak on several occasions, including during my “Mars” class, at the local astronomy club, and other talks at the UofA. She is definitely one of my favorite women astronomers.

And, because I just can’t help myself, I noticed that out of the 52 individuals listed on the faculty index at the Lunar Planetary Lab, there are eight women, a mere 15.38% of the total. Is there a problem there? I don’t know. What I do know is that in the majority of the classes I attended, the ratio of women/men students seemed to be fairly even.

While writing this blog, I also searched the web for additional information on these women. The lack of biographical information is, to say the least, discouraging. Why? Because they are doing tremendous work in an exciting field and they are role models, yet even today their stories are not readily available.

It seems to me that this could be a core issue with the problems surrounding girls and STEM. Any thoughts?

2 responses to “Women of the UofA Lunar Planetary Lab

  1. Sadly, Elisabetta “Betty” Pierazzo passed away on May 15, 2011, two days after I posted the above blog. She will be missed. You may read her obiturary here ( http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tucson/obituary.aspx?n=elisabetta-pierazzo-betty&pid=151138878&fhid=2452 ) and at the Women in Planetary Science here ( http://womeninplanetaryscience.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/betty-pierazzo/ ).

  2. Sent this to a friend at JPL May 13 this year. He responded same day. I believe this article and his comment are worth a second look, if you’ve read this already. A first look if you haven’t:

    “Indeed. Definitely more men than women in the technical staff at JPL. I went to a technical college and there were more men than women there as well, so while I would like to see more gender equality in the sciences, I’m used to the imbalance. I can only remember one or two women science faculty in the whole school, so to me, a ratio of 15% women in a technical faculty is an improvement over when I was in school 25 years ago.”

    We’re getting there, slowly. I’d like to see more gender equality, too… at a quicker pace..a lot quicker pace. What do you think?

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