For this week’s Looking Outwards writing assignment I chose to write about Lucianne Walkowicz. Lucianne was born in 1979 in NYC and she is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium located in the city of Chicago. In the 2017-2018 Lucianne was given a Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/LOC Chair in Astrobiology! As an astronomer, she studies the ethics of Mars exploration, how stars influence a planet’s suitability as a host for alien life, stellar magnetic activity, and how to use advanced computing to discover unusual events in large astronomical data sets. Walkowicz holds a BS in Physics and Astronomy from Johns Hopkins University, an MS and PhD in Astronomy from the University of Washington, and held postdoctoral fellowships at UC Berkeley and Princeton prior to joining the Adler Planetarium. Lucianne is a very bright, warmhearted and open minded person. She described herself as privileged to study space – many would feel proud or even get cocky about the fact that they’re studying the aspects of space, yet she said she felt privileged because she understands that it is a dream of many but not everyone gets to do it.
I admire Lucianne and the work that she does. In the 2019 Eyeo Festival, Lucianne said that astronomers have to tell people what they owe to them. She is studying space not only because she is interested in it and because it fascinates her, she studies it so she could educate other people about it. In 2011, when Lucianne moved back to her hometown NYC, she along with other astronomers would hop on the train and ride from first to last stop holding signs that tell people to ask them any questions about space. She would spend her time and energy riding the train and giving people the opportunity to find out more about space. I respect her for what she does. Lucianne’s main goal was to not make people be interested in science but rather make them feel that they can access and do science themselves. She was all about equity and inclusion. The research showed that only around 37% of Discovery channel viewers are women so her goal was to make the idea of science be more broad and available for everyone. In 2018, Walkowicz co-founded The JustSpace Alliance, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advocate for a more inclusive and ethical future in space, and to harness visions of tomorrow for a more just and equitable world today.
Lucianne presents her ideas through charts/graphs, pictures, videos and even art. She understands that many science related terms wouldn’t be too clear for many people so she uses visual representations to help people understand many different concepts. I really enjoyed her artistic project called “40 Orbits” which was performed as a dance in the air using electronic sound effects and LED lights. I felt as if I was watching a movement of a star in space – her aura and her movements made it seem like magic. Lucianne understands that many people are visually oriented so she created a meditation space where a person can sit and not only watch the stars and many constellations, but also listen to the stars move around! It is simply unimaginable. Lucianne made this project using her artistic abilities and a lot of technology to represent unearthly sounds of stars. I admire that project the most because it gives people the opportunity to focus on their spiritual aspects by listening to the stars. Many people don’t have the opportunity to even study space so Lucianne makes this experience available to everyone.
What I can learn about how to present my own work from Lucianne is the fact that I have to do the work not only for myself but also for others. My work can be educational and inspiring for others so I want to make my work accessible for everyone because the learning process shouldn’t be done alone. I want to use many visual representations as well in presenting my work to catch the attention and to make the ideas presented seem more easier and understandable.