NASA Women's History Month Profile - Amy Mainzer

Uploaded by NASAtelevision on 23.03.2012

“My name is Amy Mainzer. Hi I am Amy Mainzer. I am a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion
Laboratory. Right now I am working on WISE. I am the deputy project scientist for that
mission. I am also working on another project using the data from WISE to search for asteroids
and comets. That project is known at NEOWISE. I am the principal investigator of the NEOWISE
program. My first thought of being an astronomer was when I was about six years old. I would
say the single most influential on my career as a whole has been my mother. My mom is not
a scientist. She is an artist by profession. She has always been interested in things.
She loves nature. Loves to look at birds and plants.  When I came home one day and said
I wanted to become an astronomer. She thought hey that is great. Go do that. Have fun. Because
of that she gave me the freedom to pursue my dream. She was always very happy for me.
I was learning something. She was supportive of me when times got tough. When I had hard
problems to solve at school.  When I got my first job. It really made a big difference
to have someone like that in my life. I remember reading in this particular book about a place
called JPL. The Jet Propulsion Lab. I said wow I guess that is where I ought to be. That
is where they do this stuff. I was growing up in Ohio and JPL was in California which
seemed like it was on the other side of the planet. I always knew I needed to go there.
There is a lot of variety which I really like. One day is never the same as the next. Every
day is different and really fun. I started off as a kid wanting to work at JPL because
of missions like Voyager. The fact that it is still going on is incredible to me. Don’t
be afraid to be curious. Don’t be afraid to ask silly questions. Why is the sky blue?
It turns out silly questions have profound answers. That at its heart is what science
is all about. Not being afraid to ask why.”