You might think by looking at my weblog that I am pretty much interested in Space stuff. Well, that’s true, but there’s a lot more to me than that. While much of what I do relates to education or promotion of space science, my “real-life” has given me a whole universe of experience to draw on.
I’ve had a number of jobs in my working life. I’ve done everything from being a theatre projectionist to a bookshop manager, a fast food outlet manager to a museum curator, run my own website business and working in the magazine publishing business. I’ve also done quite a few volunteer and grass-roots type activities.
My main passion though has always been with public outreach andscience education. I have been doing my own stuff in that arena now for nearly 30 years. I think I have a good reputation in this area and along with a lot of other skills I have picked up over the years, this has all lead me to where I am now in life.
When I turned 40, I couldn’t have imagined that life was going to bring so many changes. I moved to Canberra (our nation’s capital) and took up my new job at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex. This was a big step and made only bigger by the fact that I had only gotten engaged a month earlier.
However, it was also made all that much easier by the fact that a very special person had entered my universe – the beautiful love of my life, Cathryn (Buchanan).
I can tell you, nothing, not even space exploration can make me happier than I am being with her. She’s perfect and understanding, loving and caring, funny and serious – and for some reason loves me?!
I am presently working at the NASA tracking station in Canberra (our nation’s capital).
The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex is a part of NASA’s Deep Space Network and is managed by the CSIRO. At the Complex, I am the Education and Public Outreach Manager. My primary responsibility is to manage our Visitor Centre which sees about 70,000 members of the public – including over 10,000 students – coming to learn more about space exploration.
For me, this is my dream job, working for a NASA centre. There, I get to tell people about all those things that have fascinated me for so many years, and hopefully encourage a new generation of explorers, scientists, and maybe the odd astronaut.
My Outreach role has provided me with a few fantastic opportunities. There has been a couple of trips to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and the Kennedy Space Center. There has also been the chance to meet with a number of incredible scientists and space engineers. My kindof heroes!
I had done quite a bit of television in the past, giving interviews for newspapers, radio, TV news and kids programs. A dream job came my way once when our national TV broadcaster offered me the chance to host my own TV show.
For three years I was the researcher, writer and presenter on a program called Skywatch – a 5-minute, weekly update on space. The program was pre-recorded and screened twice weekly on TV and also made available online. Television is a fickle business of course and changes in the networks programming plans meant we were put on hiatus indefinitely.
We made 100 episodes of Skywatch and it was a lot of fun and a great experience. Learning how to write and present for television was invaluable. I hope that one day I might get another chance to present a regular space program. In the meantime, I am a regular head-to-camera for several breakfast and news-style programs whenever they need someone to talk about space and astronomy matters.
When I get time (not often), I like to relax and watch a movie, read, write, do some art through Photoshop, create movies, build or paint something or talk about matters other than ‘space, work and computers’. Mind you there’s not too much time spare to relax these days – so many missions, so little time.
I can’t complain though, it’s not a bad life at all.