1. Aomawa Shields on the Importance of Women in STEM

    Aomawa Shields. Credit: NASA Image credit: None
    Aomawa Shields. Credit: NASA

    A recent article in Teen Vogue urges us to celebrate the Apollo 11 Moon landing anniversary through the lens of the contributions of women to that success, and to STEM in general.

    The article features 12 female STEM advocates from different fields, each with her own perspective and approach to helping young girls get into, and climb the ladder of success, in STEM.

    One of those mentioned is Aomawa Shields, astrobiologist and founder of Rising Stargirls.

    Shields is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California Irvine. She is a member of the NAI CAN 4 and CAN 6 Virtual Planetary Laboratory (VPL), and a current member of the VPL, part of the Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS).

    But the Teen Vogue article focuses on another part of her life – acting. Shields is a classically trained actress, and took a break of over a decade from her astronomy career. When returning, she found her art actually gives her what she calls her superpower. It helps her communicate the results of her research “in ways that are unique and engaging to a broad range of audiences”. An example of the use of her acting background, was her Audience Choice award at the 2012 FameLab USA National Final, held in Atlanta, Georgia