Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NASA names new fellowship after prominent female astrophysicist

Yesterday, I received the following announcement in my inbox:

ROSES-11 Amendment 23: New proposal opportunity: Appendix D.9,  The Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship (RTF) Program in  Astrophysics

A new NASA program, The Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship Program in Astrophysics, is named after a very a very distinguished American astronomer. Nancy Grace Roman's celebrated career included multiple scientific and technical achievements at NASA and her important contributions to the design of the Hubble Space Telescope.

From the announcement:

The goals of the Nancy Grace Roman Technology Fellowship (RTF) program in Astrophysics are to give early career researchers the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to lead astrophysics flight instruments/projects and become principal investigators (PIs) of future astrophysics missions; to develop innovative technologies that have the potential to enable major scientific breakthroughs; and to foster new talent by putting early-career instrument builders on a trajectory towards long-term positions.
This is a 5 year fellowship, which is the most substantial NASA astrophysics fellowship to date, compared to the typical 2-3 year awards that have previously existed.

This is really great news for Astrophysics.  Why?  First it is a new early career fellowship - these are very important to those of us just starting out in our careers.  Second, it is named after a woman.  This matters.  Celebrating brilliant women in physics helps future female physicists know that they are welcome to the field.  Physics is truly lacking in equal participation by women and we are missing a key source of intelligence, brilliance, and creativity in our field by not having equal participation by women.  So, thank you NASA!

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