Candidate Statement: Jane Rigby

Jane Rigby

Nominated Office
: At-Large Trustee

Affiliation: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Position/Title: Astrophysicist, Civil Servant, and JWST Operations Project Scientist

PhD institution: Steward Observatory, University of Arizona (2006)

Areas of scientific interest:

  • Galaxy evolution
  • Star-forming galaxies
  • Active galactic nuclei
  • Gravitational lenses as cosmic telescopes
  • Diagnostic astrophysical spectroscopy
  • Future space telescopes

AAS positions & dates:

  • Member, Committee for Sexual-Orientation & Gender Minorities in Astronomy (SGMA) (2015 – 2017)
  • Executive Committee Member, Working Group on LGBTIQ Equality (2012 – 2015)

Other relevant positions and experience:

  • Panelist, State of the Profession and Societal Impacts, Astro2020 Decadal Survey (2019 – 2020)
  • Appointed member by NASA HQ, LUVOIR Science and Technology Definition Team (2016 – 2020)
  • Co-organizer, Inclusive Astronomy (2015)

Candidate Statement:

The Board of Trustees is the governing body of the AAS. I would take seriously the responsibility to manage, direct, and control the affairs of the Society, and to make sure that the Society is serving its members, particularly students, and postdocs.

Hosting winter AAS meetings is the Society's most important function. I would push for more inclusive meetings in venues that junior members can afford to attend and expand programs (like the FAMOUS grants) that financially enable attendance. As the AAS looks ahead to resuming in-person meetings, we should adopt the best practices from the all-virtual pandemic meetings, to expand attendance and decrease carbon footprint. Increasing virtual attendance need not decrease in-person attendance. I would push for the AAS to publicize high-quality videos from the plenary talks, to create a TED-like platform and branding that brings cutting-edge astronomical discoveries to savvy lay audiences.

The AAS should play a leading role in making our profession more diverse and inclusive. The AAS should fully implement the relevant subset of the Astro2020 Decadal Survey's pending recommendations for diversity and inclusion. AAS winter meetings, as the "Super Bowl of Astronomy", have a critical role to play in welcoming and supporting scientists from minoritized communities. The AAS must ensure that every first-time meeting attendee has a high-quality, professional experience in which they feel connected to the profession, have opportunities to network, and experience zero harassment. In addition, AAS meetings provide a vital opportunity for workshops to expand technical or cultural competency, which is particularly helpful for members from small or geographically isolated institutions. I would support the work of the AAS Diversity committees (CSMA, SGMA, and CSWA), as well as grass-roots initiatives.

I would fully support the AAS Employment Commission, particularly its career development workshops. There is more work to be done to reveal to students the full range of careers within and beyond astronomy, and to build the effectiveness of the AAS alumni network.

I would push to modernize the AAS journals, with an emphasis on improving reproducibility by better publishing data products and code.