I teach astronomy at Smith College, where I’ve also taught physics and writing. I’m the academic director for Smith’s Summer Science & Engineering Program (SSEP) for high school girls. And I writes about science for kids. I’ve written 30 articles and a book.
I graduated from Carleton College in 1987 with a degree in physics. My Master’s degree is from Iowa State University, 1991, in astrophysics, and my thesis topic was collisional ring galaxies. I also studied astronomy at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst but did not complete my doctorate. At UMass, I studied asymptotic giant branch stars at infrared wavelengths and was a member of the team that developed the Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS). I took time off from UMass to teach physics and astronomy at St. Paul’s School, a boarding high school in New Hampshire, for a year and a half. Eventually realizing that I prefer teaching to research, I left UMass to become a laboratory instructor at nearby Smith College, where I’ve been ever since. I taught an astronomy class at Smith’s Summer Science and Engineering Program for five years before becoming the SSEP’s academic director.
I started writing around 2010: during a family vacation, I wrote a picture book about a rabbit who discovers the phases of the moon. And then had no idea what to do about it. Luckily, I discovered the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). After attending a few of their conferences, I started writing for kids’ magazines and joined a couple of critique groups. I’ve written articles on topics ranging from the teen brain to coral reefs and, of course, many astronomical topics. Alas, the picture book is still looking for a home. At the 2014 New England SCBWI conference, I was one of three winners of Pitchapalooza for my picture book No Monsters Allowed (also looking for a home). My debut book, Sky Gazing: a guide to the Moon, Sun, planets, stars, eclipses and constellations, came out on October 13, 2020.
I live in western Massachusetts, where I sing, knit, swim, read a lot of children’s literature, and give talks about astronomy in the local area.