Haley Wahl, a fifth year PhD student in Physics and Astronomy at WVU, has been awarded
AAS (American Astronomical Society) Media Fellowship.
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.
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).
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
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 Cosmologyhlegleiter@mail.wvu.edu, 304-685-5301