Week 1: AAAC Meeting and First Writing Assignment

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Sunday, June 6, 2021


Julia Bauer

I spent the majority of my first week attending and writing about the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee’s (AAAC) biannual meeting. AAAC is responsible for coordinating select interagency efforts within the Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and NASA. Representatives from the three agencies discussed a variety of pressing issues, including recent budgetary developments under the Biden Administration, COVID-related delays to the construction of the Rubin Observatory, and cross-agency efforts to address the impact of satellite mega-constellations on optical/radio astronomy.

Dr. Paul Hertz began the meeting with a discussion of the adoption of dual anonymous peer reviews and a new partnership with several HBCUs as part of NASA’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Incoming and outgoing AAAC chairs inquired about a recent petition to rename the James Webb Space Telescope, which bears the namesake of NASA’s second administrator. Webb was responsible for the implementation of discriminatory policies aimed at purging LGBTQIA+ employees from NASA’s workforce during the lavender scare.[1] The petition in question accumulated over 1,000 signatures, prompting NASA to conduct a historical review. 

The Webb debate is the focus of my first blurb in FYI’s weekly bulletin, “This Week.” I had the opportunity to revise my first draft with my (fantastic) mentor at FYI. I learned a lot during our discussion about how to follow journalistic best practices and style guidelines. I look forward to further revising my AAAC blurb, educating myself about science policy developments, and attending upcoming SPS colloquia this week.



Julia Bauer