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Celebrating Female Scientists: Amy Mainzer

We're celebrating Women's History Month by highlighting female scientists! Each Wednesday of the month on the blog, we'll feature a new female scientist that is changing our world as we know it (also featured on our Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter every Thursday of the month). Our fourth highlighted female scientist is Amy Mainzer; learn about her work and accomplishments below!

Amy Mainzer is an American astronomer specializing in astrophysical instrumentation and infrared astronomy. She is the Deputy Project Scientist for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and the Principal Investigator for the NEOWISE project to study minor planets and the Near Earth Object Surveyor space telescope mission.


Amy received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics from Stanford University with honors in 1996, a Master of Science Degree in Astronomy from California Institute of Technology in 2000, and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. Her research interests include asteroids, brown dwarfs, planetary atmospheres, debris disks, star formation, and the design and construction of new ground and space-based instrumentation.


Amy appears in several episodes of the History Channel series The Universe. She also appears in the documentary featurette "Stellar Cartography: On Earth," included on the Star Trek Generations home video release from March 2010. Mainzer is also in the 2016 documentary about the life of Leonard Nimoy and the effect of Spock on popular culture called "For the Love of Spock," which was directed by Leonard Nimoy's son, Adam Nimoy. She serves as the science consultant and host for the live-action interstitial on the PBS Kids series Ready Jet Go! Amy was also the science advisor for the 2021 Netflix film Don't Look Up.


Amy has received many awards and honors, including the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (2012), Lew Allen Award for Excellence (2010), and numerous group achievement awards for Spitzer, WISE, and NEOWISE. Asteroid 234750 Amymainzer, discovered by astronomers of the NEAT program at Palomar Observatory in 2002, was named after her. The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on July 26, 2010. Asteroid 251627 Joyceearl was named after grandparents!


To learn more about Amy, visit https://science.nasa.gov/science-committee/members/dr-amy-mainzer. Come back next Wednesday for a blog where you can learn about another female scientist that is changing our world as we know it!

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