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Congressional Briefing: The State of the Universe 2015

On 5 February 2015 the American Astronomical Society joined with the Association for Women in Science and congressional co-hosts Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, to deliver the second annual State of the Universe address in the briefing room for the Subcommittee on Space, 2325 Rayburn House Office Building. We were excited to have both Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson join us for welcoming remarks.

Featured at our event:

Janet Bandows Koster
Executive Director & CEO, AWIS

Dr. C. Megan Urry
President, AAS
Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Yale University

Director, Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics

Dr. Jessica Kirkpatrick
Director of Data Science, InstaEDU

Dr. Dara Norman
Research Astronomer, National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Howard Advance-IT Visiting Faculty Fellow, Howard University

Dr. Makenzie Lystrup
Acting Director of Business Development for Civil Space and Technology, Ball Aerospace

Bios for all of our speakers can be found here.

Click title below to view the video.

  • AAS Capitol Hill Briefing

Summary

Both Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson shared their perspectives on the excitement of space and basic science research overall, as well as the importance of everyone having the opportunity to pursue their curiosity and study Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). 

For the keynote address, AAS President Dr. Meg Urry delivered a brief overview of the many exciting discoveries we've achieved just since our first State of the Universe last year—from astronomers using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope to find evidence for an earth-like planet in the habitable zone (the area around a star that is the right temperature for liquid water to exist) to those using NASA's Cassini spacecraft linking geysers on the surface of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus to seas under the ice. These are just two of the discoveries Meg discussed. These discoveries, and the many more we didn't have time to share, are are enabled by an "astronomy ecosystem" that includes NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Energy Office of Science, among other agencies, together with our world-leading universities, national laboratories, and high-tech industries. The discoveries Dr. Urry highlighted were also all made by teams led by women in our field. Though women and other underrepresented groups face continued challenges like unconscious bias and stereotype threat, the AAS, AWIS, and our members are activley working to overcome them. And today, we see more than ever the prominent roles that women are playing in our field.

In Meg's words, "Diversity in STEM is essential to the excellence of the enterprise." Our panelists — Dr. Jessica Kirkpatrick, Dr. Dara Norman, and Dr. Makenzie Lystrup— each demonstrated, through their personal successes, how training and research in astronomy lead directly to major contributions to our nation's prosperity. Whether through working with our industry partners to build the most powerful space telescope we've ever built, or in applying the mathematical rigor and analytical perspective gained from studying astrophysics to challenging problems in business, or in working alongside students on exciting and original astronomical research, each of our panelists demonstrated how federal investment in the astronomical sciences broadly benefits our society. And each demonstrated how we can work toward a more inclusive community of practice and training in the astronomical sciences.

Program

Keynote Presentation

C. Megan Urry
President, AAS
Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Yale University

Director, Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics
PDF with Links to Contextual Information
Accompanying Remarks

Prepared Remarks from Panelists

Jessica Kirkpatrick
Director of Data Science, InstaEDU
Prepared Remarks

Dara Norman
Research Astronomer, National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Howard Advance-IT Visiting Faculty Fellow, Howard University

Prepared Remarks

Makenzie Lystrup
Acting Director of Business Development for Civil Space and Technology, Ball Aerospace
Prepared Remarks

Accompanying Materials

Invitation Flyer
Informational Leave-Behind

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