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Who I am and what I do:
Some characteristics you need in my job:
How I first became interested in this profession:
My Career Journey:
After finishing my dissertation, I realized that I really wanted to do something to help people, so I moved to Papua New Guinea and taught volcanology at the national university. They have a lot of volcanoes! Along the way I did consulting work for foreign aid, biodiversity, and environmental projects.
After six years in New Guinea, the Program Director job at NSF for volcanology opened up. Some of my friends thought it would be a good job for me, and recommended that I apply, so I did.
After being in that job for about a year and a half, the job for Antarctic Earth Sciences opened up. I was attracted to it because it covers so many areas of geology, and I would get to go to Antarctica a lot, which is quite a change from living in the jungles of New Guinea!
What I like best about my job:
What I like least about my job:
Advice to kids/students pursuing careers in this
Say you’re into video games—that’s fine, but take it beyond just playing. Learn how they are made. Learn to program or write game stories and learn about game theory or find out about the physics models they use. A lot of the visualization tools used in games will eventually be used in science.
As to picking a career, pick something that involves activities that you like to do. Everyone worries that they need to pick something that they love now and will love forever. That’s true only for very few people. Most people have multiple interests, and their interests change throughout their lives! So, start by picking something that includes a few of the things you're interested in. Otherwise you wind up doing nothing, and that’s sad.
But don’t be afraid if what you pick is hard or seems like it will have some boring, hard work to get to the exciting stuff. If it was easy, it would be boring too! Ever play an easy video game? How long did you play it for? There is a lot of studying that goes into being a scientist and it can be easy to lose sight of your ultimate goal—exploring! That’s what scientists are, when you get right down to it. They’re explorers, looking over the edge of the known into the unknown to understand how the universe works!
My role models or inspirations:
I’m also always surprised when I read about any very successful person, even famous entertainers. We tend to think that they just got lucky or fell into it, but it’s not true. Most of them have been acting or singing since childhood. Like Britney Spears.
NASA Official: Liza Coe
Last Updated: May 2005
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