Katrina Jackson, STEM storyteller: Women in STEM Wednesday Spotlight

Katrina Jackson is my next Women in STEM Wednesday Spotlight!

This woman is a great example of someone who has combined creativity and STEM knowledge into a career path!

Katrina is a science media professional and is currently an Assistant Producer at NASA Goddard. She makes awesome videos about the space industry including this one on NASA's recent MMS Mission (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yhtm0-Wr0iE&feature=youtu.be).

Katrina did her Master's research in Space Studies at the University of North Dakota. Her thesis was "The Influence of Television and Film on Interest in Space and Science," which sounds like an awesome topic to study.

My show works with Katrina every time we have a chance to film at Goddard, so I was able to ask her a few questions about what she's working on and what she's interested in:

1. What excites you most about the work you are doing at Goddard?
I get to work on a wide variety of incredibly cool projects.  I go from making videos about the personal journeys of summer interns, to the OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, to the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission that's launching this month and will study physics in near-Earth space.  Space and science communication is my passion, and working at NASA gives me access to ridiculously cool people and projects that I would have never had otherwise.  The next Goddard project I'm incredibly excited about is making a series of videos about memorable moments throughout the history of the Hubble Space Telescope, in celebration of its 25th anniversary. 

2. Did you always like STEM growing up?
I actually didn't have one particular favorite subject in school growing up, but STEM was always there.  The Magic School Bus was my favorite TV show and book series, and I loved going to science museums.  I was fascinated with tornadoes, volcanoes, and other natural disasters.  At some point I had a dream that I was flying in space, and then for a while desperately wanted to become an astronaut.  My parents always tried to encourage my interest in STEM.

3. What's your favorite hobby outside work?
Lately I've been spending a lot of time with Goddard's Music and Drama club, performing in musicals.  Besides that, like many people in STEM I enjoy outdoor recreational activities.  I was actually the president of my university's hiking club. 

4. What fun quality about STEM do you think would surprise most students?
I think most people don't realize just how much STEM intersects with other subjects - art, music, animation, communication, history, law, literature, media, politics, sports, writing, project management. For example, NASA needs people to create visuals for science and mission concepts, politicians and lobbyists to promote NASA-friendly policies, lawyers to work on contracts and spacecraft insurance, historians to keep track of and archive everything that's happened, fitness experts to work with astronauts, etc. etc. etc.  

5. What advice would you give high school students who want to be successful in STEM?
A couple pieces of advice:  1. Don't ever feel like you have to choose one passion over another.  You'll be happiest if you can keep everything you love in your life, plus you'll be more uniquely qualified for jobs that specifically suit you when you combine your interests.  2. I strongly feel that all STEM programs should include a course in STEM communication.  If you don't have such a course available to you, I suggest taking writing and speaking classes, becoming familiar with the university's press office, and attending any seminars about creating posters, presentations, and papers.  Remember that being clear, concise, and understandable is always appropriate, no matter the audience or how specialized the topic is.  I apologize in advance for all those you'll encounter who don't follow this advice!  

 

Thanks to Katrina for being an awesome Women in STEM Wednesday!

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