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March 8, 2024

For International Women’s Day, women from the Astrogeology Science Center share stories of their work and achievements to inspire women and girls everywhere who might be considering STEM-related fields. 

Women's Day is internationally celebrated on March 8. This is an important day to remember how far women have come in traditionally male-dominated fields. Doors are opened in many places, where there once were only walls. 

At Astrogeology,  you don’t need to be a rocket scientist or to be able to train astronauts to contribute to the exploration of the Solar System. We are proud of all the work we undertake together in this Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) field. Here are a few words some of the women here  have said about working at Astrogeology.  

Picture of two women who work at Astrogeology Science Center

Lauren Edgar (Left): "I am grateful to work with a fantastic team of scientists at the Astrogeology Science Center. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, I’m particularly thankful for the women in Astro and the diversity of perspectives and experiences that they bring.  It has been very fun and rewarding to work together on various projects, missions, and fieldwork. Planetary science has come a long way towards a more diverse and supportive work environment, and I’m grateful to be part of this new era of space exploration!"

Picture of woman that works at Astrogeology Science Center.


Amber Gullikson: “You can always tell who the strong women are. They are the ones you see building one another up instead of tearing each other down.” –Unknown

When I look back on all the amazing women I have worked alongside, the support and encouragement that I have felt has always given me strength through times of uncertainty. I am proud to be both a woman working in the planetary science community, as well as part of such an incredible group of women working at Astro.





Picture of a woman (and dog) who works at Astrogeology Science Center

Lillian Ostrach: I came to Astrogeology following my first postdoc at NASA Goddard, and one of the things I looked forward to at Astrogeology was the positive attitude toward teamwork to achieve our goals. With few and rare exceptions, our work efforts are collaborative and promote an atmosphere of excitement and opportunity, particularly when we are tasked with supporting NASA goals for space and planetary exploration. Our focus on creating products and data for the scientific community is also something I like about Astrogeology. While many of the researchers have their own scientific interests and projects, including my own personal interests in impact cratering and volcanism on the Moon and Mercury, many of us are also involved in efforts to improve community access to a variety of data sets and data products.



A picture of a woman who works at Astrogeolgy Science Center

Lori Pigue: I've worked with Astrogeology for nearly 7 years, and in a few different positions from student through full-time scientist. Through the challenges and difficulties, I'm thankful to have a compassionate and hard-working team surrounding me. The work that we do is strengthen by the commitment that we have to each other and the collaborative atmosphere we foster at Astrogeology. One of the things that I'm grateful for (outside of my research) is outreach and communications, through which I get to share the work that I and others at Astro do. I get to learn more about what my colleagues are involved with, and help more people explore the Solar System with us.


A woman pictured who works at Astrogeology Science Center

Janet Richie: I am the first Black woman to work at Astrogeology Science Center, for which I am likely to be remembered as such in our notable history, but particularly in reference to some of the great works that we do for the planetary science community.  I would describe Astrogeology as little America, the place where I found opportunity far greater than I ever expected. A few highlights are IT support, optronics, editing, writing, cartography, and working as a Payload Downlink Lead on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission for about 13 years. Opportunities still abound. I have had to pinch myself!  I attribute my achievements first to God, and then to many wonderful scientists at Astrogeology and NASA, and especially to the women of the past, present, and future, who have and will continue to pioneer our contributions to science. 


A picture of a woman that works at Astrogeology Science Center

Melody Hartke: I have worked for Astro and the USGS Flagstaff Science Campus since 2015 as a Technical Information Specialist and Acting Facilities Operations Specialist.  I am also the Deputy Project Manager for the NASA Planetary Data System (PDS) Cartography and Imaging Sciences Node.  There are so many different types of jobs that women can do in the STEM fields – not only doing the science or the technical work itself but supporting and facilitating it as well.  It is a continual honor and pleasure to work with the Astro team and make meaningful impacts in the larger effort to advance human understanding and capabilities in STEM fields.  


photo of Tenielle Gaither

Tenielle Gaither: I started working for Astrogeology as a graduate student in 2010 under the STEP/SCEP program. Today I work with the Planetary Geologic Mapping group and lead the Planetary Nomenclature project. As a teenager I’d hoped to become either an astronaut or a crew member of the Starship Enterprise, and working for Astrogeology is as close to those dreams as I could wish for! I would not have this career today without the women’s suffrage and equal rights movements of the 19th and 20th centuries. On this International Women’s Day, I am grateful for the progress that has been made toward equality in the U.S., and recognize that this struggle continues across the globe, to achieve equality for all women. 


Picture of woman at Astrogeology Science Center


Sonya Bogle: I’ve been at Astrogeology for around 4 years, collectively, first as a student worker in our archive, and now as a geographer, and I am so thankful to have landed in such a fulfilling, positive, and stimulating workspace as Astrogeology. As a youngling, I went on many road trips with my father, who taught me to navigate on a paper map from the age of around 6, and when I wasn’t getting my hands on a map, I was staring out the window, staring at the moon at night, and taking in the vast landscapes of mountains and deserts around me in the day. I had never even considered going into a STEM field until I got to college and took an introductory geology course, but now I am so touched by the fact that I get to work with planetary maps for a living and help others with their planetary research! One of my favorite parts of working at Astrogeology is participating in our outreach efforts so that more folks, including non-scientists, can experience the joy of science in the same way that we do! I know that little girl looking up at the moon with a map in her hand would be super proud.

The USGS strives for a welcoming and inclusive workplace. We recently developed a multi-year Strategic Plan for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA).

USGS also has a variety of resource groups to support employees:


Happy International Women’s Day!


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