Week 6: Visits from Home

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Monday, July 18, 2016


Victoria DiTomasso

I spent the weekend with my parents in Old Town, Alexandria, Virginia. On Saturday we went to the Torpedo Factory Art Center, an old Torpedo factory that's been converted into working-artists' open studios. Throughout the day we enjoyed a farmer's market, shopping, restaurants, cupcakes and the free street trolley. That night we went to Alexandria's 267th and US's 240th birthday celebration, complete with a grand firework show. They definitely made up for the foggy/rainy fireworks on the Fourth. On Sunday we visited the Udvar-Hazy Center of the National Air and Space Museum and I got to geek out over their all their space gear, including Space Shuttle Discovery!

Fireworks in Alexandria, VA

Space Shuttle Discovery at the Udvar-Hazy Center

Work this week was tedious, but well worth it. The other AIP History interns and I finished reviewing our 36 teaching guides for a final time! We are all very glad to have it done and excited to make our grammar-checked guides available to teachers everywhere.

Monday through Friday, outside of working on the teaching guides, was pretty busy. After work on Monday, I ended up at a bookstore and caught the end of Metropocalypse Live! a conversation with Martin DiCaro, reporter at WAMU 88.5, about the Metro and SafeTrack. In comparison to other people's commuter horror stories, it made me appreciate how lucky I've been with the metro this summer.

During the day on Tuesday I spoke to Charna Meth about writing an article for the fall 2016 edition of the SPS Observer. Tuesday evening I had dinner with a friend from home who is doing astrophysics research at the University of Maryland.

During the day on Wednesday I had a phone call with Dr. Whitney Barfield, Health Scientist and AAAS Policy fellow who's working at the NIH's Office of Research on Women's Health. We met at the Women Policy, Inc STEM fair last week. During our phone call, I asked her about her career path; she earned her PhD in microbiology and had a research postdoc position before going into policy. It was really interesting to hear about her path through graduate school and then out of academia. She stressed how valuable she has found her PhD to be. She says that it grants her a higher level of freedom in her career and that it's opened a lot of doors for her. She also shared the value that she sees in taking time between undergrad and graduate school, something that she did not do. Even though we are in different fields, hearing her perspective as someone outside of academia gave me some insight that will prove useful as I make decisions about my education and career over the next few years.

Wednesday night I met up with a friend from my research group for dinner. She was in town as a National Geographic Young Explorer for a few days of workshops and networking at Nat Geo headquarters.

Thursday night, us SPS Interns went to a BBQ thrown by AIP at the College Park Aviation Museum. We were able to talk to people from AIP and a number of its member societies, as well as Nobel laureate John Mather, while learning about the history of aviation and having some fun in the museum. Thank you to everyone who organized that event!

Mariah, Dahlia and Maria having fun with science at the College Park Aviation Museum

On Friday, my friend from home took a bus down to DC to visit for the weekend and I met her at Union Station. We had an easy-going Friday night, but more about our weekend adventures in my next blog post. 

Victoria DiTomasso