American Museum of Natural History

As a world-renowned scientific and educational institution, the American Museum of Natural History has offered me a unique graduate experience. The reach of AMNH spans locally to the students and population of NYC, and globally to the myriad of tourists it attracts annually. As a graduate student researcher at the museum, education, outreach, and public engagement have all played a large part in my PhD journey. Below I've included some of the exhibits, events, and media I have been a part of during my time at the museum.

Hall of Meteorites

The Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites at the American Museum of Natural History showcases over 130 meteorites from the AMNH collection, along with lunar samples collected by the Apollo missions. The centerpiece of the hall is the 34-ton iron behemoth known as Ahnighito - the largest fragment of the Cape York meteorite.

I give frequent tours of the Hall of Meteorites to both students and visitors. The Hall of Meteorites theater showcases a video (below) that shares current topics in meteorite and small body research as well as our group's specific research with the public. Check out a brief overview of my research at 7:17 in the video below!

More about Meteorites

Resources for Educators: Hall of Meteorites

Public Programs @ AMNH

When the Hayden Planetarium closed in early 2020 due to the pandemic, the numerous planetarium programs at AMNH transitioned to an online format. In this new virtual world, we were able to translate our programming to online interactive public outreach with a global reach.

I was involved in this transformation from the very beginning. To date, I have been involved in over 20 online AMNH programs. My roles across the events varied - I have been a presenter, OpenSpace "pilot" and chat scientist (answering the audience's questions live in the YouTube chat) for the Field Trip and Astronomy Online series. Additionally, I have piloted OpenSpace for visiting scientists giving Frontiers Lectures at AMNH, integrating content and visualizations from OpenSpace with the topics and research in each lecture.

For a full list of programs, click here. Check out one of the programs I hosted (Field Trip: Comets) and "piloted" (Astronomy Online: Saturn) below!

Elementary and High School Programs

Lecturing to the Fall 2018 Secrets of the Solar System class.
The Department of Education at AMNH offers a multitude of programming for elementary and high school students. The After School Program offers a myriad of science courses for interested high school students in the NYC area. The program pairs a high school teacher with a research scientist from the AMNH to co-teach the classes. As the museum scientist/"Astrophysics Research Educator" for the Secrets of the Solar System course, I was able to integrate a variety of topics related to my research into the course material, and better illustrate concepts and present data using OpenSpace. In addition to co-teaching the Secrets of the Solar System course in 2018 and 2019 for high school students in the After School Program, I have also been a guest lecturer in various elementary school programs and summer camps, and given tours of the Hall of Meteorites to various classes. Some of these classes include:

  • "Intro to AMNH Physical Science"; 6th graders (2019)
  • "Our Place in Space"; 6th-8th graders, (2020))
  • "AstroExplorers: Structures of the Universe"; 4th-5th graders, (2021 x2))
  • OpenSpace Project

    A still of multiple asteroid groups rendered using OpenSpace.
    OpenSpace is an open source, interactive data visualization software designed to visualize the entire known universe and portray ongoing efforts to investigate the cosmos. OpenSpace supports interactive presentation of dynamic data from observations, simulations, as well as space mission planning and operations, and allows visualization at the outcrop level on extraterrestrial bodies. Originally envisioned as a robust tool for immersive on-site environments, such as planetariums and multi-screen museum exhibit installations, OpenSpace has grown to be a powerful interactive public outreach tool in our increasingly virtual world. OpenSpace is funded in part by a grant from NASA, and the project management team for the software is based out of AMNH.

    I have been involved in the OpenSpace Project in various roles since 2018, which I expand on here.

    #HackTheSolarSystem

    From 2014 to 2019, AMNH's BridgeUp: STEM program hosted an annual hackthon that paired museum scientists with "hackers" to solve problems in cutting-edge computing in scientific research and communication. The 2019 hackathon, #HackTheSolarSystem, was focused on addressing computing challenges in the earth and planetary sciences.

    I served as a "museum stakeholder" for the event, providing a "challenge" for the hackers (Meteorite Mineral Mapping) and serving as a scientific advisor for those tackling the project. The challenge focused on improving our image analysis techniques used to determine mineralogy pixel by pixel in electron microproble maps.

    Worlds Beyond Earth

    My PhD advisor, Denton Ebel, is the curator for AMNH's newest space show, Worlds Beyond Earth, narrated by Lupita Nyong'o. Over its year-long creation, I was able to observe and participate in the content development and production of the show.

    In one of the more surprising opportunities during my time at AMNH, I served as a stand-in narrator for the rough cut and draft versions of the space show! Though the pandemic forced the Hayden Planetarium to close soon after Worlds Beyond Earth premiered, the planetarium is now fully open with hourly showtimes.

    Resources for K-12 Educators

    Worlds Beyond Earth

    AMNH has created resources for K-12 educators related to the themes and content of the new space show, Worlds Beyond Earth. Find them at the link below!

    Hall of Meteorites

    Check out the Educator's Guide to the AMNH Hall of Meteorites below.

    Hall of the Universe

    There is also an educator's Guide for the Hall of the Universe! Explore more at the link below.