NASA Scientist from Eastern Kentucky to Speak at UK

By Ashley Cox

(April 11, 2016) — The University of Kentucky Department of Physics and Astronomy is hosting Kentucky native and NASA civil servant Pamela Marcum April 14-15 for a Sky Talk titled "NASA’s SOFIA Observatory: Exploring the Universe from 42,000 Feet” and a meet-and-greet.

Marcum’s Sky Talk is open to the public and will take place 8 p.m. Thursday, April 14, in the Chemistry-Physics Building room 155. Her meet-and-greet will take place from 12-1:30 p.m. Friday, April 15, at the UK Appalachian Center, located at 624 Maxwelton Ct. The meet-and-greet is open to university faculty, staff and students.

Marcum was raised in a rural, coal-mining community in Eastern Kentucky, Louisa, where at the time, the path to a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) career was mostly uncharted.

Since then, Marcum has had many positions within NASA. She served as program scientist for the WISE and Kepler missions at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., where she also managed the UV/optical/IR portfolio of the research and analysis grants program.

Marcum is now the project scientist for NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA). SOFIA is the largest airborne observatory in the world, capable of making observations that are impossible for even the largest and highest ground-based telescopes. Her non-technical Sky Talk will describe how SOFIA has been used to investigate exoplanets around nearby stars, giant black holes in the centers of galaxies and how stars form. Through photos and images, she will describe what makes SOFIA so unique and highlight the discoveries it has made. 

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