Alexandria DeWolfe, MAVEN Science Data Center Lead
Laboratory for Atmospheric & Space Physics (LASP), University of Colorado
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
I've been interested in science ever since I was little, thanks to my wonderful parents and some excellent teachers. My dad was a very early computer programmer - he taught me BASIC on a home-built Sinclair in 1982 - so it's no surprise that I've found myself in a computing job. When I was in high school I took physics and loved it, and decided to major in astronomy in college. I went to Wellesley College, which is a women's college and a great place to do science.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
MAVEN! It's NASA's next Mars mission, launching in November 2013. Ten months later, it'll go into orbit around Mars to collect data about the current and past state of the Martian atmosphere. I manage the Science Data Center, which is kind of like the centralized data library for the mission, where the entire MAVEN team can get all the latest data for doing science. Needless to say, it involves a lot of computing power: we don't have a huge data volume, but everything has to be carefully backed up, and accessible to the team but secured against unauthorized access.
It's really exciting to work on a planetary mission, especially since I joined the mission a couple years ago and will be able to take the data center from the initial design through implementation to daily operations during the mission. Also, I can't wait to go to Kennedy Space Center and watch the launch! Follow @maven2mars on Twitter for more info.
Role models and heroes:
Ada Lovelace, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sally Ride.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love working in the space program and feeling like my work is part of something really important and exciting. I actually took a break from STEM work for a few years and went to graduate school to study ancient Middle Eastern languages, which was really interesting, but I'm glad to be back in a field with more job opportunities, and I like being able to work on something completely new and innovative.
Advice for future STEMinists?
Working in science is great! There are so many opportunities out there for you if you study a STEM field.
Twitter: @rocketshipmom - so named when I asked my then-three-year-old son what he thought my job was and he said "Rocketship girl."