She's an Astronomer: Elizabeth Siegel

elizabeth photo

Elizabeth Siegel lives in California in the USA. She is 57 years old and has worked as a registered nurse for the last 9 years after going back to college at 42 to do a nursing degree. She has two grown up kids – a son in college and a daughter who works in the aerospace industry.

  • How did you first hear about Galaxy Zoo?

I found out about Galaxy Zoo  through the science news page at Yahoo two years ago as the project was beginning.  It was only on the page for one day, but I remembered the name and was able to find it on my own.

  • What has been your main involvement in the Galaxy Zoo project?

My main involvement has been classifying galaxies.  Specifically: Galaxy Zoo 1 and 2, mergers, barred spirals, AGN-clouds, and Irregular spirals.  I have found a few asteroids and some possible gravitational lensens I did and OOTD on polar rings. I am an active member on the galaxy zoo forum, and have posted pictures in the pure art thread, not to mention one or two galaxies..  I’ve recently started working on the Solar Storm Watch, Supernova Zoo, and the Moon Zoo Beta test.  Between these projects I have contributed around 200,000 classifications and spent almost 4000 hours on Galaxy Zoo.

  • What do you like most about being involved in Galaxy Zoo?

I love looking at the galaxies, learning about them and discussing them with fellow zooites from around the world online or in person through group meets like the one we had in September 2008 at Chabot Observatory in Oakland California (West Coast Meet Ups Forum Thread).

  • What do you think is the most interesting astronomical question Galaxy Zoo will help to solve?

I am not a Astronomer so I really cannot answer that question. I do known as volunteers we are providing  the Astronomers loads of information which would have taken them a long time to research otherwise. Of course there is Hanny’s Voorwerp that the scientist and zooites would like to learn more about. Personally it’s all the galaxies I like. I find Polar Ring galaxies to be the most interesting to me since there are so few of these type galaxies. If Astronomers could learn more about these galaxies that would indeed be cool.

  • How/when did you first get interested in Astronomy?

When I was around 14 years old I had read a lot of books on the moon and meteorites and wanted to be an astronomer.  That year my Christmas present was a telescope. One night, my friends and I decided that we were going to ride our bikes to Lick Observatory.  We snuck out at one in the morning rode twenty miles East of San Jose California.  We made it by mid-morning but of course everything was closed.  There was an old man and he asked us what we were doing.  We told him we had come to see the observatory.  He smiled and said the best time to see the observatory was at night.  He gave us some water to drink, and we smiled and  thanked him for the water and information.  But 20 miles up hill on bikes is a long way to go to be told to come back at night. The old man did not even show us around.  When I found out that most of Astronomy had to do with math I lost interest in being a Astronomer  as a profession since math was never my strong subject. Over the years I kept up on Astronomy though reading science articles watching programs like Nova etc. Then I found Galaxy zoo I can look at all the galaxies, stars, nebulae,  clusters which is my favorite part of Astronomy

  • What (if any) do you think are the main barriers to women’s involvement in Astronomy?

I have no idea.

  • Do you have any particular role models in Astronomy?

I do not have any particular role models in Astronomy but I do admire the way the Galaxy zoo team has taken the original Galaxy zoo project and is now expanding it to the Zooniverse. I would like to invite everyone to come and participate in these wonderful zoo projects.

This post is part of the ongoing She’s an Astronomer series on the Galaxy Zoo Blog is support of the IYA2009 cornerstone project of the same name (She’s an Astronomer). We are listed on the She’s an Astronomer website in their Profiles.

We’re almost done – this is the penultimate entry, and last Zooite we will be interviewing. Just one more researcher to go.

About karenlmasters

Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Haverford College, USA. Project Scientist for Galaxy Zoo. Spokesperson for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Busy having fun with astronomy!

11 responses to “She's an Astronomer: Elizabeth Siegel”

  1. Joseph K. H. Cheng says :

    Congratulations, Liz on your contribution to science. Keep up the good work.


  2. Els says :

    Go Liz ! 🙂

  3. Alice says :

    What Liz doesn’t mention is how she welcomes and helps newbies every day and is wonderful to have on the forum. Good for you Liz! 😀

  4. Alice says :

    (Clicked Enter too soon) And bad luck about the observatory that day. Grrrrr! Just have to make up for it with more days out with other zooites.

  5. Lovethetropics says :

    Wonderful interview dear Liz! Thanks for all the help through the years on Galaxy Zoo.

  6. Caro says :

    Yay! Liz is my buddy. 😀

  7. Infinity says :

    Oh nice Liz! 🙂

  8. Jo says :

    Wonderful Liz!

  9. Curtis W. Garrett says :

    Nice article. And a brave answer.
    It is surprising how many people who have no idea about the answer to a question will answer it anyway.
    Smiles and hugs.

  10. lodilady says :

    Liz warmed up the Zoo for me right from the start with her kind answers to newbie questions and a personal connection…her hometown isn’t far from mine. Great interview, Liz. You speak for me when you talk about being interested in astronomy, but not math-equipped for the hard-core science end of it. Thanks for articulating how the Zoo welcomes us and values our contributions.

  11. Michelle Ayers says :

    Liz!!! Awesome. 🙂 MIss you tons!!!! XO

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