Get to Know Gemini! Alysha Shugart

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:  Alysha Shugart

What is your current position and at which telescope?

I am a Science Operations Specialist at Gemini South telescope.

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

I spend my time at Gemini switching between night and day shifts. I operate the observing queue at nights, work with classical and remote astronomers, and try to get the best data possible for the PIs. During the days I do data quality analysis, instrument checks, and write scripts and modify software code for the observatory’s infrastructure. I also volunteer as a diversity advocate for the AURA centers in Chile, working to improve the workplace culture and create an environment where someone from any background can find a place.

How long have you worked for Gemini?

I have been here for three years in September.

What is the best part of your job?

One of the coolest things about this job is living in Chile. I always wanted to move outside of the U.S., and Chile has so many outdoor adventures. Traveling around South America in my free time has been incredible these past three years.

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

 I was born in D.C., but I grew up and went to undergrad in Austin, Texas.

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

Problem solving.

Why is astronomy important?

To me, astronomy is the study of the history of everything. It’s the closest I can get to understanding existence (which is not close at all), and the grand scales of astronomy absolutely fascinate and astound me. It’s also very humbling.

What is your favorite movie?

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

What is the latest book you have read?

“Travels with Charley” – John Steinbeck

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

“Soon it will be cold enough” – Emancipator, “Greatest Hits” – John Denver, “Napalm and Silly Putty” – George Carlin.

What is one hobby of yours?

Traveling with surfers

Favorite beverage?


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

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