Ashley L. Walker
Senior chemistry major, Chicago State University & visiting research assistant, Johns Hopkins University
And - experimental astrochemist, planetary scientist, & science communicator
Perseverance is the best thing to have while becoming a scientist!
WHAT DO YOU DO?
As a planetary astrochemist, I study the chemistry of planets and planetary atmospheres. I want to understand the chemistry of this planet or planet-like atmosphere and it’s habitability. I’m currently studying Saturn’s moon, Titan and it’s prebiotic chemistry.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
I didn’t know astrochemistry existed until I took a basic astronomy class. I began doing research on extragalactic astronomy and I knew then that this was something that I am willing to dedicate my life to. I remember reading about Emmitt Chappelle who is an African African astrochemist, he’s 92 years young!!!! I realized that I want to be like him. I noticed that there weren’t too many people that look like me that are astrochemists. My job is to encourage more Black people to pursue this brand new field.
WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"
Everything that I am currently doing now! But I am grateful that I am doing it now because I believe that this is the perfect time for me.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?
I love educating the public space related facts, encouraging other people to get involved with STEM. Learning! You can never stop learning. I like reading about things in space that I didn’t know that existed or that is happening on the other side of astronomy (i.e Black holes, galaxies, stars etc.)
BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?
Be yourself and continuing going forward! Never let anyone discourage from being a scientist! Perseverance is the best thing to have while becoming a scientist!
INSPO / FUN FACT
My role models are my mom, best friend Elizabeth Gutierrez, Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz, Dr. Nia Imara, and Dr. Sarah Horst. Favorite website is Twitter!