Astrobiology, Space, Spectacular Scientists

Spectacular Scientists: Jasmine S

Look at this! Another Spectacular Scientists feature! I really love these posts, as hearing about everyone’s journey is so interesting and motivating! I hope it inspires you/ you find it helpful as much as I do! Jasmine is also a science communicator, and is studying my favourite topics- planetary science (particularly atmospheres) and astrobiology! She is incredibly passionate about space, and her tweets show the realities of being a student in 2020. I’m new to twitter, and @astro_jaz was one of the first accounts I followed, and I’m glad I did! Make sure you follow her too, but first, who is she? 

Never Trust An Atom: Let’s kick things off with the most important question- Which is your favourite (dwarf) planet and why is it Pluto? 

Jasmine: To be honest, I ADORE Pluto. I definitely feel like it got the bad end of things, but there’s so much potential there. It might have a subsurface ocean! If that doesn’t put you on #PlutoGang then I don’t know what will.

Pluto: Facts & Information About the Dwarf Planet Pluto | Space

N: What are you currently studying?

J: I am currently studying Planetary Science with a double major in Atmospheric Science at Purdue University. I chose Atmospheric Science as my double major because that’s the part of Planetary Science that draws me in the most, but more on that later.

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N: What would be your dream job?

I want to study planetary atmospheres and be a part of the search for life, since studying planetary atmospheres is crucial to life being able to evolve on a planet. Astrobiology is the second thing that I have always had a love for. I just didn’t know what it was called. (Plus weather on other planets is SO COOL).

N: I loved your twitter threads (We seem to be interested in the same things- astrobiology/planetary science for the win!). What brought you to science communication?

J: Thank you, I appreciate it! I put a lot of work into researching for those threads so I love when they get a nice response. I love sharing my passions with other people. Whether they study the same thing I do or not, I feel like a lot of people can appreciate space and its beauty and mystery. If one person learns something new from me. I know that I’m doing what I set out to do. I also want to inspire other young women of color to join STEM fields, because we have so much to contribute and have been pushed away for so long. 

N: Your tweets clearly show your passions for science and space- have you always been interested in science? What led you to space science?

J: Pretty much. Science was always my favorite class in school (still is). It explains how our world (and the universe that we live in) works. There are so many questions that we ask, and pretty much all of them can be explained by science in some way. I was drawn to space science in particular after learning about space and planets in 6th grade Earth Science class. That class really solidified me wanting to study it forever. Also, I always liked looking at the Moon through the car window at night (I thought it was “following” us home), and I would look at the stars and wonder about life elsewhere doing the same.

N: OMG I used to do the same thing with the moon and stars! It has such a calming presence

N: Who were your inspirations growing up, and who are they now?

J: Carl Sagan, Bill Nye, and Neil Degrasse Tyson I would say. I didn’t learn about women in this field until MUCH later on. Now, I would say along with those three, the Hidden Figures and Astronaut Mae Jemison are huge inspirations for me.

N: It sucks that women in science haven’t been featured until recently… but with science communicators like you, I think the next generation is in good hands!

N: Would you go to space if you got the chance?

J: Of course! I have dreamed of seeing Earth with my own eyes and just admiring the beauty and fragility of our home. I have a great deal of respect for astronauts because I know that I could never be one due to the rigorous training and being shot off in a rocket just sounds terrifying. 

N: What’s your favourite non-science thing to do?

J: I enjoy playing my flute, listening to music, playing video games, and watching YouTube.

N: What’s your favourite thing about studying science?

J: I love learning new things and being able to answer questions that I couldn’t before. As I mentioned before, science teaches us so much about our world and universe 

N: Your least favourite?

J: Math. (Sometimes I’m good at it, sometimes I’m not)

N: Do you have a favourite female scientist from your field? Past or Present!

J: So many. I would say the Hidden Figures (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson), Ashley Walker (@that_astro_chic), Dr. Alexandria Johnson (my research professor), Sarafina Nance (@starstrickenSF), Rose DF (@_astro_nerd_), Kirsten Banks (@astrokirsten), and so many more. Basically, every female I follow on Twitter in the Astronomy field. 

N: What are your top tips for aspiring scientists?

J: Never let anything stop you. I got a D in Calculus I the first time I took it my freshman year of college after being a straight A student in high school. I thought I was doomed after that and that I wasn’t cut out to be a scientist. When I retook the class I got a B+, and now I’m taking Differential Equations, which is the last math class for my degree. I have overcome failure and I’m still on my path. Failure is okay in science, you will survive. 

That’s a great reminder- I definitely need to accept this more! 

Thank you so much for letting me interview you Jasmine! Wishing you all the best in finishing your degree, and hopefully one day I will join you in your planetary science/astrobiology research! 

You can follow Jasmine on Twitter here and on Instagram here, but make sure to check out her website/blog for more detail on her twitter threads!

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