Get To Know Gemini! Janice Harvey

Get to Know Gemini is a new series of blog posts aimed to highlight the different careers, backgrounds, and types of people contributing to Gemini Observatory and its science.

Name:  Janice Harvey

What is your current position and at which telescope?

I have been working in the Public Information and Outreach (PIO) Department at Gemini North for 17 years, currently the Community Outreach & Education Programs Leader.

In four lines or less, explain what you do as part of the Gemini Observatory team?

I  manage and coordinate local community outreach for Gemini North, including the flagship Journey Through the Universe program. I also oversee all local outreach events, coordinate and facilitate presentations for the local community, attend and participate in community events. I assist and manage staff and interns in our PIO department.

How long have you worked for Gemini?

I have worked in the Gemini PIO department for 17 years. What a job!

What drew you to this job?

At the time I was hired, the objective of the position was to reach out to the community and provide educational opportunities in astronomy to both the public and the Department of Education. I have always been passionate about education and this was a natural fit for me.

What is the best part of your job?

You’ll often hear me tell others that I truly have the best job in the world. Having the opportunity to share the wonders of our universe with others is extremely fulfilling. I love the Journey Through the Universe program which brings astronomers/scientists/engineers into the classroom. The precious moments I have experienced over the years when a student has that aha moment – priceless!

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. My mother was a twin and she and her brother exchanged kids as we grew up, so I lived many summers on the farm in Olpe, Kansas, population 546.

What skill do you think is most important to know for your job?

By far, the most important skill is learning how to communicate with others in the most effective way.

Why is astronomy important?

It is my belief that we all have a personal responsibility to make good decisions for the betterment of all.   Astronomy provides us with a clearer understanding of our past, present and future. And, if we know there is even a faint possibility of life beyond earth, let’s find out!

What is your favorite movie?

ET. I saw it at a drive-in and will remember that night forever!

What is the latest book you have read?

Currently reading a Man called Ove.

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

1) R&B/Soul
2) Classical
3) Bruno Mars/Michael Jackson

What is one hobby of yours?

Taking care of my plants and orchids.   

Favorite beverage?

Martini on the rocks

Check back next month to learn more about the staff that help Gemini to explore the Universe and share its wonders!

Get to Know Gemini! David Sanmartim

Get to Know Gemini is a new series of blog posts aimed to highlight the different careers, backgrounds, and types of people contributing to Gemini Observatory and its science.

Name:  David Sanmartim

What is your current position and at which telescope?

Science Fellow at Gemini South

In four lines or less, explain what you do as part of the Gemini Observatory team?

As a Science Fellow, half of my time is dedicated to support duties: I carry out observations a couple of nights during the year, construct nightly observing plans, act as a day astronomer and support our PIs with their projects. The other half of my time I work on my personal research.

How long have you worked for Gemini?

Over a year

What drew you to this job?

First thing is that Gemini is one of the largest and best ground-based observatories in the entire world. So be part of Gemini scientific staff is a great honor. Second thing is that as a user of Gemini facilities, I have always been curious about all the “invisible” work behind a large observatory. So in my actual job I saw a great opportunity to learn about and get involved in the operation of a world class telescope and to have a good fraction (half) of time to do my research.

What is the best part of your job?

Hard to say just one, but I really enjoy doing observations. It’s one of my favorite duties here at Gemini. It’s very exciting to operate the telescope instruments and get in touch with the real data of a lot of different and inspiring scientific projects. Another aspect I really enjoy is that we help astronomers to optimize their programs and to get the best data that our telescope can provide. It’s very rewarding and motivating when we see that our job is important to other people and science.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I was born in Porto Alegre, which is the biggest city of the southern Brazil, and there I also got my PhD degree. However, I grew up in a small town called Candelária, which is 125 miles from Porto Alegre

What skill do you think is most important to know for your job?

The main skill is the technical and observational experience, but the most import quality, in my opinion, is to be curious. It keeps the mind open to learn something new every single day and improve our work.

Why is astronomy important?

I believe all the basic research fields are very important, because they represent the necessary groundwork for all the human development and technological advances. Astronomy has a very fundamental role in this scenario, enabling and fostering in many ways the technological development in our modern society. However, astronomy is even more important than that, since it helps us to understand who we are in the cosmos, how big it is and how amazing are the mysteries we still don’t know about it and about ourselves. Astronomy is also very important, especially nowadays, because it brings people across the world and entire nations to work together in cooperation.

In three lines, explain your PhD thesis.

I have studied the distribution of post-starburst stellar populations, the star formation history and the gas/stellar kinematics in the central region of a type of active galactic nucleus (AGN) called Post-Starburst Quasars. These galaxies are an excellent case to study the AGN feedback mechanisms and the influence of supermassive black holes (SMBHs) on their host galaxies, since they constitute a stage in the evolution of massive galaxies in which both star formation and nuclear activity have been triggered and are visible simultaneously before one or the other fades.

What are your current research interests?

I study the correlation between the growing of SMBHs and their host galaxies, which is a key issue to understand the evolution of the universe itself. This area has a lot of open issues to be answered and understood, so, in cosmic scales, I think I’ll be busy studying this topic for a while. One of my main interests is to understand the role of the AGN feedback in stopping the star formation in the host galaxy.

What is your favorite movie?

The Godfather.

What is the latest book you have read?

Ecce Homo, by Friedrich Nietzsche.

What is one hobby of yours?

Growing vegetables in my backyard.

Favorite beverage?

Red wine and sparkling water.

 

Check back next month to learn more about the staff that help Gemini to explore the Universe and share its wonders!

Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day 2018

Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day 2018

Gemini Observatory joined the local community on January 27th for a day of celebration and science at the annual Onizuka Science Day event at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Ellison Onizuka Science Day serves to honor the legacy of Hawaiiʻs first astronaut and the crew of the Space Shuttle, Challenger. This year marks the 32nd anniversry of the NASA Challenger disaster that took the lives of all seven crew members. Onizuka Science Day seeks to spread Onizukaʻs passion for scientific exploration, and to inspire young minds to pursue education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Gemini was just one of the many organizations promoting scientific research and discovery that day.

Throughout the event, families visited interactive displays and participated in workshops to broaden their understanding of science and astronomy. During the opening general assembly, astronaut Jack Fischer shared his experiences on the International Space Station and the importance of  interdisciplinary projects and experiments conducted in space.

Gemini staff, including astronomers, Information and Technology Services (ITS) staff, and the Public Information and Outreach (PIO) team, led workshops, crafted “Gemini Cubes,” passed out Legacy Images, and took pictures of families in our photo booth. Our volunteers also taught visitors about different celestial objects and inspired students to join our diverse workforce.

PIO intern Hannah Blomgren walks a student through folding a Gemini Cube.

Posing in the Gemini photo booth!
From left to right: Christine Copes (Gemini), Mimi Fuchs (Submillimeter Array), Janice Harvey (Gemini), Alexis Acohido (Gemini), Meg Schwamb (Gemini), and Hannah Blomgren (Gemini).

Computer Science Without Computers Workshop

Gemini Information Systems Engineer Jerry Brower led an interactive workshop that introduced computer science without using computers! The workshop began with an activity in which students were bits, switching on and off, to illustrate counting in binary. This opened up discussion about creating messages and demonstrating how modems send information. Students also learned about image storage, data sorting, and encryption.

Students “bubble sorted” themselves on a mat, demonstrating one way computers organize data.

PIO intern Jasmin Silva (far left) and Information Systems Engineer Jerry Brower (far right) teach students how to be bits.

– Hannah Blomgren and Jasmin Silva

Get to Know Gemini! Gabriela Randrup

Get to Know Gemini is a new series of blog posts aimed to highlight the different careers, backgrounds, and types of people contributing to Gemini Observatory and its science.

Name: Gabriela Randrup

What is your current position and at which telescope?

Receptionist/Admin Assistant at Gemini North

In four lines or less, explain what you do as part of the Gemini Observatory team?

 answer the main switchboard number and re-direct calls.  Meet and greet visitors Try to pitch in  wherever administrative help is needed.

How long have you worked for Gemini?

18 years

What drew you to this job?

The Gemini building with its international flags (one of which was the Argentine flag) waving  reminded me of the United Nations.  Though world peace is not  our main objective, knowledge is.

What is the best part of your job?

Meeting people from all over the world.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

I was born in Argentina but grew up in NYC.

What skill do you think is most important to know for your job?

It’s important to be a “people-person”.

Why is astronomy important?

Aren’t we all made out of star matter?

What is your favorite movie?

Star Wars

What is the latest book you have read?

I admit I am more of a Netflix binge-watcher nowadays

What three albums would you bring with you to a desert island?

“Alturas de Macchu Picchu”, by Los Jaivas.
“La voz de los ’80”, by Los Prisioneros.
“Delicate Sound of Thunder”, by Pink Floyd.

What is one hobby of yours?

Hiking

Favorite beverage?

Tanzanian peabody coffee

Check back next month to learn more about the staff that help Gemini to explore the Universe and share its wonders!

The 12 Days of Solstice – Day 12: Holiday Card

Welcome to Gemini’s 12 Days of Solstice! This is a joyous countdown to the longest, or shortest (depending on which hemisphere you live in) day of the year! Visit our blog each day from December 11 – December 22 for Gemini-themed crafts, cartoons, playlists, videos and much, much more.

Yesterday was the winter solstice if you live in the Northern Hemisphere and was the summer solstice if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. We celebrate it today, with a make your own holiday card. The galaxy image was created from Gemini North observations by Science Operations Specialist Jen Miller. Download the card from here, print it out, fold on the dotted line, and then you’re ready to put a  message inside and give it to someone special.

Season’s greetings from all of us at Gemini Observatory. You can catch up with any and all of our solstice countdown that you’ve missed here.