My interest in astronomy and physics likely had early roots in growing up in a dark suburb where the summer nights unveiled the rich tapestry of stars overhead. I was not a child telescope operator however, as my fundamental orientation is to bright sun and hot weather best enjoyed on the shores of an ocean or bouncing off a diving board into a blue pool.
I grew to like sciences as my favorite subjects--opening new ways to view the world around us. In my teens and in college, being in science was also fairly radical, set one apart, and cultivated deeper and more analytic thought patterns in those rebel years. Being involved in physical sciences was quite different from the mainstream studies of even the most rogueish students in the 60's and 70's.
My professional interest in astronomy and physics became more focussed and formal in graduate school. One has to make a choice and narrow down what to study, and the combination of the two slightly different physical science disciplines was attractive, although biology and physics as a combined thread of endeavor was a strong pull. My expertise is in stellar populations, to study star clusters such as the globular clusters and the rich clusters in the companion galaxy to our own, M33. But astronomical research is only a piece; the building and bringing to operation instrumentation, that is, "getting one's hands dirty," was also an interest for me. I worked in the physics research laboratories all through undergraduate school, but my greatest opportunity to participate in instrumentation was at the national observatories in Arizona and also in Hawaii.
I also have had a strong interest in information technology and in all things new and inventive. For several years at STScI, I have been responsible for bringing the news and latest results from Hubble to the public. Further, by creating an educational program, we have been able to make Hubble not only fun, but relevant to students, teachers, and families. My urge to pursue the new and different had driven me on to found a new entity at STScI to develop technology and foster innovation. Examples include webcasting of live events, and merging broadcast media with the internet to make the riches of Hubble ever more accessible. For me, Hubble Heritage is a natural extension of my interest in bringing science, particularly astronomy, to the public in new, better, and unusual ways. Science is art.
I currently spend half of my time at STScI working in the Community Missions Office and the National Virtual Observatory where I am the Director of Education. The other half of my time I work at the US Department of State bringing technologies such as Geographic Information Systems and satellite earth looking imagery to diplomats for use in foreign policy. The rest of my life, filled with flying, aerobatics, skydiving, scuba, climbing, myriad other activities, and a love of dogs (I mean big dogs) allows me to view the planet from unusual perspectives including in free fall and upside down. I would not have it any other way.