Visiting Professor to Speak About NASA Missions and Space Science

Sept. 17, 2007

by Devany Severin, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

Dr. Pamela Marcum, an associate professor of physics and astronomy at Texas Christian University and current program scientist for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Kepler missions at NASA, will speak at 2 p.m., Friday, Sept. 21, in room A236 of the Baylor Sciences Building on Baylor's campus.

Marcum will give an overview of the technical capabilities and science goals of NASA astrophysics missions focusing on development or production, including WISE and Kepler, and the opportunities they bring to the community.

"Just as the Hubble Space Telescope has awed and inspired the public for nearly a generation now, these promising future missions are sure to provide new surprises about our universe and to address such fundamentally human questions such as how unique is Earth?" Marcum said of her lecture.

Marcum attended the Florida Institute of Technology and received bachelors degrees in physics and space science and then received her doctorate in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For her post-doctoral work, she attended the University of Virginia, where she worked with a team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on the shuttle-based ASTRO science missions, analyzing data taken with the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT).

Currently, Marcum is taking a leave-of-absence from TCU to work on a temporary assignment as program and discipline scientist at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Her responsibilities as a discipline scientist include managing the grant program, which supports detector development, laboratory astrophysics and suborbital payloads.

Marcum believes her lecture will interest students because the nature of the missions on which she works at NASA touch on topics that interest nearly everyone.

"How often have many of us contemplated if we are alone in the universe, or what the universe would look like if we could fast-forward to the future?" she said. Instead of focusing on "pure science talk," Marcum will explain how these concepts translate into real missions.

Marcum's lecture is sponsored by the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER), an official Baylor center existing around a formal partnership between Baylor University and Texas State Technical College-Waco. The center conducts fundamental research in physics and engineering, offers educational opportunities for students from first grade through graduate school, and conducts outreach impacting more than 2,000 students annually through its Physics Circus experience.

The lecture will conclude with a Q&A session, and is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Truell Hyde, vice provost for research at Baylor, at (254) 710-3763.

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