Astronaut Sunita Williams inspires me:
I once saw Suni give a talk to a packed auditorium of schoolchildren, and I was amazed at the patience she had for all their questions. As far as I can tell she spends a lot of time talking to people about her experiences with NASA, and she’s enthusiastic about it even when she’s not “on the clock.” I’ll admit that I’m not always so enthusiastic…when I’m on an airplane and someone asks me a million questions about my work, sometimes it seems hard to make the effort to engage with that person. I asked Suni how she finds the energy to talk to so many people. One thing she pointed out was that the outreach is an important responsibility…the space program is very expensive and she has had this wonderful opportunity because the taxpayers have financed it. The outreach is something she can give back to people who don’t have the same opportunities. Every time I think of that conversation it reminds me that outreach is part of my job too. Being a scientist is hard work, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity and a privilege.