Dr. Pamela Gay is an astronomer, writer, and podcaster focused on using new media to engage people in science and technology. Her best-known project is Astronomy Cast, a podcast in its thirteenth year that she co-hosts with Fraser Cain (producer of Universe Today). She also helped build the CosmoQuest virtual research facility, a second-generation citizen science site designed to provide the public with opportunities to participate in NASA-related science programs, while also giving them access to online seminars, star parties, classes, and more.
Dr. Gays passion for science communications is evident in her work blogging about astronomy at StarStryder.com, and in frequent public talks and popular articles in Astronomy, Sky and Telescope, and Lightspeed magazines, and in appearances on TV shows like The Universe. She received a BS in astrophysics from Michigan State University in 1996 and a PhD in astronomy from the University of Texas in 2002. Today, Gay is the director of CosmoQuest and a senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute (the largest non-governmental employer of planetary scientists in the world). Although her first research love was and remains variable stars, she has also used her technology skills to explore the secrets of galaxy evolution and planetary surface geology.
In a 2012 interview with God & Nature magazine, Gay spoke about her Christian faith and how important she thinks it is to combat anti-science positions held by religious fundamentalists. "People who deny science are denying how detailed and beautiful the cosmos really is. They're living in a universe that is just too small."
Dr. Gay received the American Humanist Associations 2019 Isaac Asimov Science Award at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on June 7, the first segment of the AHAs first-ever free, livestreamed rolling conference. Her remarks are adapted here with her permission.
Memory is a strange and fickle thing. Not every moment is stored. Somewhere I lost the names of the dinosaurs that I knew when I was five. Gone is the family tree of the Greek gods I memorized in fifth grade. There is an inexplicable alchemy to what is remembered--did you know that birds can't fart, wombats poop cubes, and Ceres was a former planet more than seventy years before Pluto was even discovered? Some things, I just can't forget.
There's one school memory that stays with me. I was about twelve years old--a seventh grader--and a boy was teasing me for my...