Week 9: Poster Session

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Sunday, August 14, 2016


Dahlia Baker

The second to last week brings a feeling of the beginning of the end. Deadlines for NASA were finally upon us, and I found myself scrambling to make edits, format graphs, and try to summarize my past eight weeks of work into a 45 by 45 inch piece of paper.

With the poster session on Thursday, I tried my best to understand all of the concepts my mentor had been explaining to me about dielectrics and waveguide measurements so that I could have something to explain to the hundreds of people attending the NASA intern poster session. By the time everything was printed and set up on display, I finally relaxed and enjoyed the fact that now I get to spend three hours sharing my work with professionals who had genuine interest in what I found this summer! This was the greatest feeling, to be standing in front of this huge piece of paper that shared my name and the NASA logo. I was so enthusiastic that when I had the chance to give my spiel, I completely forgot about my poor decision to wear three inch heels to a three-hour long session.

As an astrophysics intern at Goddard, I also had the chance to sit down for lunch with Dr. John Mather for an open discussion/question session. John shared with us his experience of working with the government and pushing science policy, and the intricacies of being a science manager on such a large project (James Webb Space Telescope), his own education experiences, as well as his opinions of how to go about presenting science to younger audiences who might see it as intimidating or too difficult (outreach!). As an SPS Intern, I was very informed about these topics, and it was refreshing to see them explained to a new audience. 

After this experience, I feel like I have a much deeper understanding of outreach, and it’s hard to believe that I had been at Coe and hosting (even planning) outreach events without the passion I have now. I had been the beneficiary of older generations of the STEM community trying to show me how science is actually really cool and not scary, but I had never realized that they might have been promoting this stuff for any reason other than my own entertainment. As my career goes on, I know that it’s my turn to give back and inspire younger boys and girls to pursue whatever they want (but especially physics). 

With my poster session finished and my work in the lab wrapping up, it’s time to move on to the real ending of the summer – the final presentation at the American Center for Physics. With everything I’ve learned this summer, I know that I could go on for hours, but next week I will have ten minutes to share my findings before this amazing opportunity is finally finished. 

Dahlia Baker