Outreach Astronomer: Dr. Valerie Rapson

Valerie Rapson image 090815Valerie’s interest in astronomy started when she was a young child. She watched endless Star Trek episodes with her father and hoped to one day better understand how the universe works. During her undergraduate career at the University of Rochester, Valerie had the opportunity to teach a summer physics course for young women, and this is where her passion for science education and outreach blossomed.

Valerie went on to get her Ph.D. in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her dissertation focused on the chemical composition and structure of planet-forming disks around nearby young stars.

Valerie spent much of her free time during graduate school educating the public about astronomy. She taught summer camps, visited senior living communities, and presented star shows at the Strasenburgh Planetarium. For two years Valerie was also president of the Rochester Academy of Sciences Astronomy Section, a large organization of amateur astronomers that love to share their passion for astronomy with the world. In 2014 Valerie was inducted into the American Astronomical Society’s Astronomy Ambassadors program, recognizing her extensive participation in astronomy outreach throughout Rochester, NY.

Valerie is really excited to be spearheading the astronomy education programs at the Dudley Observatory at miSci. She hopes to reach out to all members of the public, both young and young-at-heart, and teach them the wonders of outer space. Her motto is: “You don’t need to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to learn about, understand, and enjoy astronomy”.

Archivist: Angela Matyi

S-149 Particle Collector – Used during the 1973 Skylab experiments, to record micro-meteorite impacts on polished slides and thin films

Angela’s enthusiasm for archival work is derived not from a single definable source, but rather is the result of a lifetime of curiosity.  From childhood, she has read voraciously on subjects ranging from black holes and tsunamis to medieval history and classical mythology.  Coming from a family long involved with academics and the arts, she had instilled in her from a young age a deep respect for active scholarship and the institutions that facilitate and protect it.

Angela received her Masters of Library Science from Indiana University at Bloomington and a Bachelors in History from Fordham University.  She acted as a volunteer at the Museum of Innovation and Science (miSci) before assuming the position of Archives Assistant for the Dudley Observatory Archives.  She continues to split her time between the Dudley Archives at miSci and the Schenectady County Historical Society.