Dr. Dawn Gelino, Senior Staff Scientist at Caltech/IPAC and Deputy Director of the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute, was elected as the newest AAS Vice President for a three-year term starting summer 2023.
Written by Seppo Laine
Dr. Dawn Gelino, Deputy Director of the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute (NExScI) at IPAC, was voted by the members of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) as its newest Vice President for a three-year term that starts in summer 2023.
Gelino obtained her BS from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1996 and a Ph.D. from New Mexico State University in 2001. Her other accomplishments and honors include leading the NASA Keck time allocation process, leading the popular NExScI Sagan Summer Workshops, co-leading the NASA Hubble Fellowship Program (NHFP) and NASA’s Nexus for Exoplanetary System Science (NExSS), selection as an Inaugural AAS Legacy Fellow, an invited TED speaker at CERN, and being a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal. Gelino joined Caltech/IPAC in 2004 after a postdoctoral fellowship at UCSD and was promoted to the deputy lead position of NExScI in 2017. In addition, she is the lead for NExScI’s Science Affairs Team.
Founded in 1899, the AAS is a professional organization that includes astronomers, physicists, mathematicians, geologists, and engineers, with 7,484 active members. Roughly a third of the membership cast ballots during its last election from December 2022 through January 2023. According to the AAS Voting Results page, “The Vice Presidents, as representatives of the Board of Trustees, are responsible for the overall scientific content of the Society's major meetings. They select invited speakers, review proposals for special sessions, and support and advise the Executive Officer in maintaining the scientific quality of the program.” The society has three members actively serving as vice president at any given time; a new one is elected every year to serve for three years.
We caught up with Dawn to chat about her experiences with the AAS and her plans for her forthcoming role.
Please describe your previous experience in the American Astronomical Society. Which positions have you held?
“I have been an active AAS member since I joined in graduate school, and I have attended every meeting since January 1998. I have consistently been an exhibitor with the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute since 2004, served as an AAS governing council member from 2013 to 2016, as a member of the Journals Futures Task Force in 2014, and on the society’s eBooks Board and Publications Committee from 2016 to 2022. I have also put together and spoken in countless employment and early career sessions for AAS meetings and was honored to be named as an AAS Legacy Fellow in 2020."
What inspired you to become a candidate for AAS Vice President?
“The AAS has given me a vibrant professional community, not to mention countless friends and colleagues, and has helped me obtain every astronomy job I have had. I have wanted to give back as much as possible and have been asked for the past few years to run for VP, but it was not until this year that I thought I might possibly have enough time to do a good job.”
What would you like to accomplish during your term?
“As Vice President, I will serve on the AAS’s Board of Trustees and Executive Board and contribute to all aspects involved with those boards. The additional job of a VP is not only to pick the speakers for and help run the society's meetings, but also to serve as an advocate for its members. I will use my experience and contacts in the broader science community to choose truly diverse speakers for meetings, work with the Board of Trustees and the AAS meetings team to lower the barriers (and hopefully the cost) for ALL to attend AAS meetings, and make community events, including AAS meetings, safe for all. I will work to provide additional opportunities for networking and to make the AAS as inclusive and safe from harassment as possible.”
Congratulations, Dr. Dawn Gelino!