“I am going to learn as much about the stars as I possibly can.”

- Me, age 10 or so

portrait of the author on an observatory balcony with two telescopes in the background
Not-quite-PhD me in August 2011, observing comets with the 2.1-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, on a mountain named Iolkam Du’ag that belongs to the Tohono O’odham people.

meet the astrochick.

PhD Me decided to be an astronomer at around age 10, with a vow made to no one in particular while I was lying on my water bed in my room in rural West Africa: "I am going to learn as much about the stars as I possibly can." Before long, I ended up at Calvin University where I became an "asteroid girl," discovering and tracking new asteroids to learn about their scientific properties. A few years and schools and telescopes later, I finished my dissertation on Asteroid Family Dynamics in the Inner Main Belt. For those who don’t have time and prefer a rhyme, check out the poem version that I rewrote in anapestic tetrameter in honor of Dr. Seuss.

For more science info, including an updated version of my CV and research contact information, check out my research site. For more science fun, including blog posts on fascinating science and the 321Science! fast-draw videos I helped create for NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid retrieval mission, feel free to explore around here. I sincerely hope you do…

For Science, you Monster.

- GLaDOS, Portal 2 trailer

science from the blog

Here’s a few of my science-related blog posts, featuring fun and crazy stuff about the universe. Enjoy!

the calvin university observatory in Rehoboth, NM

Posted June 30, 2021

And all the people and equipment who helped me do it, and why it takes so long to name an asteroid, and why no asteroids are named after my awesome cat despite how awesome she is.

Read the post

new & cool

an annular eclipse of the sun
Photo credit: Justin Dickey

eclipse alert!

The next annular eclipse in the U.S. will pass through Albuquerque, NM, on October 14, 2023, in the middle of the famous Balloon Fiesta! 


In 2013 and 2014, I led a team of graduate students and one high school student to create a series of fun fast-draw videos to explain asteroid science in support of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample retrieval mission to asteroid Bennu. Most of the science here directly relates to my dissertation work, and as a bonus it comes with whiteboard cartoons and a catchy soundtrack. Enjoy!

my dissertation poem

a la Dr. Seuss (PhD?)

Flora’s Family

A Dissertation Poem by Me

A long time ago, just a few worlds away,
A couple of asteroids had a bad day.
The Belt that they lived in had always been roomy
But that bad, bad day it got sort of BOOM-y.

Rock 1 said “Look out!”, Rock 2 said “Oh no!”
And then those two rocks made a fireworks show.
(Except, as we learn from our friend Mr. Nye,
There isn’t much noise when two big space rocks die.)

And what was left over? Well, as you can guess,
Rock 1 and Rock 2 made a bit of a mess.
They didn’t clean up (per asteroid etiquette),
And the biggest Piece was the size of Connecticut.

8 Flora was that Piece’s number and name,
Its asteroid family is called by the same.
The Floras spread out without pushing or shoving,
Gently nudged by the Sun, so warm and loving.

Sunlight’s made of photons, and like little balls,
These photons can push things, both Big Things and Smalls.
We don’t feel their push, because it’s so tiny,
But Floras sit out a lot where the Sun’s shiny.

The Sun’s push was found by a guy named Yarkovsky,
And… there’s just about nothing that rhymes with Yarkovsky.
Alas, because details can get kind of bore-y,
I’ll take you back to our collision story.

A billion years came, and a billion years went,
Some Floras hit Earth, and each made a dent.
They could be a problem, and I’ll tell you why:
There’s a whole lot of Things here that don’t want to die.

The Floras, you see, are so close and so big,
We want to make sure that we “zag” when they “zig.”
So Earth hires people like you, and your Mommy,
To watch for their zigging and keep our skies balmy.