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Meet: Kenwyn Long

Physicist
NASA Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, Ohio

What I do at NASA
I am a physicist working on space radiation damage to solar cells. There are radiation belts outside the Earth composed of very energetic particles that can really zap solar cells. We are designing shielding for these cells to protect them from damage while allowing enough sunlight through for the cells to convert to electrical energy to power the spacecraft.

What I like to do outside of NASA
I like to hike, bike, cross country ski - anything outdoors, which is a welcome change after being on computers and in labs all day. I also like to read (anything from historical novels to fashion magazines) and keep in touch with my two adult children. One is a political scientist, the other is an accountant, but they both enjoy science and love hearing about the latest Hubble and Chandra Space Telescope discoveries. My husband is a family and substance abuse counselor; he's also wowed by all the stuff out in space!

Why I became a scientist
I've always wondered how things worked, and was never satisfied with "just because..." as an answer. Getting a chemistry set for Christmas when I was eight really got me started on the idea of science as exploration and enjoyment. I had to get over the prevailing attitude that existed even when I was in college that "real girls aren't supposed to be scientists or engineers." Today I'm glad I didn't let that stop me from doing what I really wanted to do!

If I could redo high school, I would have...
I wish I had taken more mathematics in high school. Courses like physics and college math, especially calculus, are much easier if you've had enough trigonometry and geometry in high school.

 
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