A Busy Galaxy Zoo Day
Sometimes in scientific research opportunities collide and lead to rather busy days. Yesterday I had such a day, and since it involved me giving two presentations about Galaxy Zoo I thought you might be interested to hear about it.
In the morning I gave a talk “Galaxy Evolution in the Galaxy Zoo” at the “Unity of the Universe” conference in Portsmouth, a conference celebrating the opening of the new Dennis Sciama Building for the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation (ICG, where I and several other “Zoo Keepers” work). This talk was aimed at summarizing for astronomers and cosmologists at the meeting the exciting results on galaxy evolution which have come out of Galaxy Zoo. Many researchers in astronomy are aware of Galaxy Zoo, and in general are very interested in it, but they tend to think of it more an an opportunity for outreach with the interested general public and less in terms of the exciting science which can come out of it. The point of my talk was to say that it should in fact be viewed as both. It seemed to go over well.
Over lunch I took a train to London where in the afternoon I was interviewed by an esteemed panel of scientists (including Baroness Susan Greenfield, Director of the Royal Institution, and Prof. Alec Boksenberg, Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO). This interview was because I was a finalist in the competition for the 2009 L’Oreal UNESCO UK/Ireland Fellowships for Women in Science. My proposal for this fellowship (for £15000) was to extend my period of study at Portsmouth so I could spend more time studying the red spirals in Galaxy Zoo (among other things). I gave a 10 minute talk about this proposed research, then answered questions from the panel.
Later that afternoon I had a L’Oreal makeover (really – but don’t worry this was not a requirement for the fellowship just a treat, and a positive sign in my opinion of a recognition that scientists can want to be feminine) and in the evening I attended a reception at the Royal Institution at which the winners of the fellowship were announced. Unfortunately I did not win the competition, but as I did make the final 8 (out of 240 applicants) I can’t feel too bad about it. I also got a nice engraved pen, met some very interesting people, and I’m assured I can still expect some free makeup. So that’s not too bad after all!
Quite a busy day in the life of an astronomer!