Astrobiology Initiative, Science Communication

Inaugural UC Santa Cruz Astrobiology Science Communication Graduate Fellow: Allison Gasparini

Astrobiology focuses on the search for life beyond Earth. A core mission of the UC Santa Cruz Astrobiology Initiative is to effectively communicate with the public the science and ethics of this field. To this end, the UC Santa Cruz Astrobiology Initiative sponsors a Science Communication Graduate Fellowship. Scholars will focus their capstone Science Notes project on an astrobiology topic in consultation with the directors of the Astrobiology Initiative and Science Communication Program.

In the Fall of 2020, the inaugural Astrobiology Science Communication Fellow, Allison Gasparini, started her studies at UC Santa Cruz. Allison has a B.A. in physics from Syracuse University. Her interest in space led her to science writing internships at NASA, Brookhaven National Laboratory. Additionally, she has experience covering physics and related policy issues as a professional reporter at the American Institute of Physics and as a contributor to Forbes magazine.

She Writes:

Staring up at the stars, which are particularly luminous above my rural hometown in upstate New York, I once pointed up at a familiar constellation. “Look, it’s O’Brien’s Belt,” I reported to my family. A beat. Then laughter.

“Allison… it’s Orion’s Belt.”

Okay, so maybe I’d misheard a term or two when educators brought an inflatable planetarium to our elementary school, though I’d loved crawling inside the dome and marveling at the illuminated constellations. Lesson learned, I continued scanning the starry skies on nighttime strolls and through the equations of college astrophysics courses.

We are here to explore the universe and grow from what we discover. When I tell science stories, I feel I am on an adventure, pointing up at the stars, offering an open invitation for everyone to stargaze alongside me.

Allison’s Fall internship will be at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California.

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