List of Past BANG Seminars : 01-Jan-2012 to 01-Jun-2012

Date:   Thu, 26-Jan-2012
Speaker:   Dr. Bethany Johns (John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow)
Title:  Working in Science Policy


My goal is to educate intelligent and enthusiastic astronomers how to enter the field of public policy. Transitioning into the world of public policy from astronomy is a unique experience for each individual. There is no certain path one must take from your current career to Capitol Hill. I will tell my story on how I made the transition from astronomer to public policy and why I was motivated to pursue this type of career. More scientists are entering a career in public policy, however the role of the public scientist communicating with policy makers is still very important. I will also focus on how necessary it is to make communicating with policy makers a part of your current career.


Bethany Johns became the fourth John Bahcall Public Policy Fellow for the American Astronomical Society in September 2010. Bethany received her Ph.D. and Masters in Physics from Clemson University in South Carolina. Her research focused on Galactic positron annihilation emission. She received her B.A. in Physics from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.

During her time at Clemson University, Bethany served as the Graduate Student Government Senator representing the Physics and Astronomy Department, enhancing the graduate student professional development grant program and improving the graduate student experience in areas such as of stipends, health insurance, and housing at Clemson University and other universities in the state. She is interested in the role of science in bettering the United State's position in the world and to enhance the quality of life for its citizens. She is currently focused on government implementation of the recommendations of the astronomical decadal surveys for astronomy and astrophysics, planetary science, and heliophysics.

For further information please contact Career Paths coordinator Dr.Tamara Bogdanovic at, 301-405-6651

Date:   Thu, 09-Feb-2012
Speaker:   Profs. Arthur Popper and Robert Dooling (UMd)
Title:  How to be mentored!

Mentoring, and being mentored, is a set of complex and fluid interactions between a student and mentor. The mentoring relationship starts with the student selecting a mentor, and continues well beyond getting the student getting her/his degree. In this interactive presentation, we will consider mentoring from the perspective of the graduate student and postdoc, and try and help our audience better understand and appreciate the complexities of the mentoring relationship. Profs. Dooling and Popper have been teaching "Responsible Conduct of Research" for almost 20 years, and as part of this teaching they have developed considerable interest in mentoring at all levels of an academic career.

For further information please contact Career Paths coordinator Dr.Tamara Bogdanovic at, 301-405-6651

Date:   Thu, 08-Mar-2012
Speaker:   Dr. Suchitra Balachandran (UMd Astronomy and Community Research)
Title:  A Journey through Science and Democracy

This is not really a talk on how to transition from doing research in astronomy into another career and it is not an exploration of alternative careers available to astronomers. Because, unless I define a career in a very narrow sense, in many ways I don’t feel I have really transitioned to something else. I have always been and remain fascinated by how nature works, whether it is the physics of the universe or the biology of the animal world. I have also been very much interested in issues of justice, not just in the narrow sense of social or economic justice among humans, but also justice for the biodiversity that created humans and of which we are an integral part. So I hope this talk will be a dialog on the need to engage on issues beyond one's own scientific research and the myriad places that can take you.

Dr. Suchitra Balachandran is an Associate Research Scientist in our Department as well as one of the directors of the Community Research, a non-profit organization for environmental advocacy. We invited her to tell us about her dual career experience.

For further information please contact Career Paths coordinator Dr.Tamara Bogdanovic at, 301-405-6651

Date:   Thu, 12-Apr-2012
Speaker:   Dr. James Hague (Legislative Assistant to Sen. Mark Udall)
Title:  "A View to the Hill?"

In the first part of this seminar, Hague will discuss how he transitioned from the graduate program in astronomy at Maryland to a new career as a science staffer on Capitol Hill, and answer questions about making that career change. In the second part, he will lead a discussion on getting your message across on the Hill.

For further information please contact Career Paths coordinator Dr.Tamara Bogdanovic at, 301-405-6651

Date:   Thu, 10-May-2012
Speaker:   Prof. Andrea Lommen (Franklin and Marshall College)
Title:  How to Do Big Science at a Small College

It turns out you can do big science at a small (liberal arts) college. I will attempt to compare my job to those of my colleagues who are at large research institutions, hopefully without getting myself in (too much) trouble. I think one of the most interesting (and less obvious) differences involves the way I'm forced to think because of the environment that I'm in.

For further information please contact Career Paths coordinator Dr. Chris Reynolds at, 301-405-2682

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