Who I Am and What I Do
I am a Branch Chief for the Thermal Protection Materials and Systems
Branch, a research and development organization at NASA Ames Research
Center located at the heart of Silicon Valley, in Mountain View, CA.
My background includes 18 years at SRI International where I gained
expertise in the mechanical behavior of ceramics, application of preceramic
polymers, sintering kinetics and phase equilibria, ceramic forming techniques,
joining of ceramics, ceramic processing, powder synthesis, composite
fabrication, degradation behavior of ceramics, and synthesis and processing
of high-temperature superconductors.
As a Child
For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a chemist. I grew
up in Sydney, Australia and attended Willoughby Girls High School, where
I first became interested in my profession after reading an article
that talked about ceramic engineering.
There are events in a young person's life that make a profound impression.
For me, one of these events was the Apollo 11 landing on the moon on
July 20, 1969. I can still recall listening to the radio commentary
(there were no television sets at school in those days). The mission
was considered important enough that we were sent home, so that we could
watch it on the television.
Coupled with my interest in chemistry and all science was my love of
reading, which drove me to read anything I could get my hands on. Later
on, when I embarked on a professional career, I was determined to show
that women could do whatever they set out to accomplish. One
of my favorite quotes is: "If at first you don't succeed, try,
try, and try again." I also like, "Pick yourself up, dust
yourself off, and start all over again."
I attended the University of New South Wales in Australia, and graduated
in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in Ceramic Engineering (1st class honors).
I then moved to the United States, and came to the University of California
in Berkeley, where I got my masters degree in 1979 and my Ph.D. in 1983,
both in Materials Science. After working for 18 years at SRI International,
where I learned much of what there is to know about ceramics, its behavior,
properties, methods of fabrication, and applications, I came to work
for NASA. Here at Ames I enjoy immensely to be involved in the development
of novel and sturdy materials able to withstand the heat and other challenges
of space travel. My goal as Branch chief, is to make our Thermal Protection
Systems Branch a leader in the field, and to pursue technical excellence
in everything we do.
My advice to students is that you get a really good educationboth
in depth and in breadth, remembering that as a part of a team you depend
on others for results, therefore you must continue to cultivate and
develop the people side of your profession.
I am married and live in Piedmont, in Northern California, with my husband,
and two children, ages 12 and 14. Reading is still one of my favorite
pastimes. I also enjoy traveling, hiking, cooking, and sailing.
Page Last Updated: October 17, 2001