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Haley Wahl awarded an American Astronomical Society Media Fellowship


Haley Wahl, a fifth year PhD student in Physics and Astronomy at WVU, has been awarded the AAS (American Astronomical Society) Media Fellowship.

Haley Wahl

As an AAS Media Fellow, she will train alongside the press team of AAS and gain valuable experience in science communication, specifically astronomical sciences.  The fellowship was developed in 2017 by the AAS to provide a graduate student in the astronomical sciences a position for one year who has expressed a talent and interest in science communication.  As a fellow, Haley will write for AAS Nova, help write press releases, and assist in running press conferences at winter and summer AAS meetings. 

Haley began exploring her interest as a scientific communicator at WVU, where she created and presented shows at the  WVU Planetarium. The planetarium gave her the training to adapt to very different audiences. She could be the bridge between scientific concepts and young audiences who may have never been exposed to astronomy.   

Following her passion, she then applied to be a writer for Astrobites, an astrophysical literature journal written by graduate students in astronomy. Once she began writing for Astrobites, her interest in science communication peaked.  She had always loved science, especially astronomy, but noticed a shift in her purpose, weighing more into her science communication projects.  As a jumping board, Astrobites sharpened her communication skills, teaching her how to explain science to a broad audience, and to those in a different field.  “Astrobites has been key in helping me improve my science communication skills because it allows me to get feedback from other authors when they go through a round of editing before the piece is put out,” Haley said.    

"This fellowship is a huge opportunity to explore the world of professional science communication, which will help me prepare for a future career in the field” Haley Wahl

After attending a career panel, she realized she wanted to be the bridge between the public and scientific community.  She wanted to take the science and make it accessible to the public.  

She has also explored multiple, creative avenues of scientific communication and outreach, all in an effort to inform and inspire the general public on complex scientific topics such as pulsars.   

Widow Pulsar

She finds creative ways to share her pulsar science with different audiences, including Great British Baking Show fans! She created the “Pulsars and Profiteroles Project” which combines her love of baking and pulsars into an educational and fun project (right).  

As a thriving social media communicator, she took to Twitter and developed #PulsarFridays, where she publishes a thread each Friday featuring different areas on pulsar science including scientist highlights, fun facts, and science threads.  One her of her favorite #PulsarFriday threads featured the cover art of the Joy Division album “Unknown Pleasures” (below). 

The famous cover art is actually an image showing the single pulses of pulsar B1919+21, the first pulsar ever discovered.  

Joy DIvision's album "Unknown Pleasures"Haley loved the Joy Division/Pulsar connection, because it resonated with different audiences. “This is a fun connection because the Joy Division album cover is something people have seen before but never really thought about. Showing them that this cool image is actually radio emission from dense stellar objects and that pulsars have been right in front of them is always fun,” Haley said.

Haley has also been a guest on The Helix Show and Skype a Scientist Live, explaining concepts like pulsars to younger audiences which brings her joy.  She was also on the “Starts with a Bang!” podcast with Ethan Siegel discussing pulsar polarization. 

In her AAS Media Fellowship, she will gain in-depth, professional development while writing scientific articles on behalf of AAS to target audiences.  In this role, she is looking forward to networking with the press team.  Haley notes "This fellowship is a huge opportunity to explore the world of professional science communication, which will help me prepare for a future career in the field.” 

Haley is currently pursuing her PhD with her research focusing on pulsar polarization under Prof. Maura McLaughlin. She is active in the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology and a member of the NANOGrav Scientific Collaboration. 


CONTACT: Holly Legleiter

Public Relations Coordinator, 

Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology, 304-685-5301