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Women of SDO - Emilie Drobnes
Emilie Drobnes › View larger
Emilie Drobnes Credit: NASA
Q & A with Emile

What first sparked your interest in science or engineering?
I sat on a plane next to someone who worked for the SOHO solar mission who ended up offering me at job at Goddard Space Flight Center. My interest in science and engineering was fueled by my evolving position into NASA Goddard tour guide, website editor, and ultimately lead of the Solar Dynamics Observatory education and public outreach program. Until I worked for NASA, I thought science and engineering was too hard for me. After 10 years at NASA I can say that it’s not so hard after all and can in fact be quite fun!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love to talk and I love to play, so this is the perfect job for me. Through my partnerships and travel, I get to meet new people all the time and speak with other education specialists, scientists, and space enthusiasts. I also get to play by creating special programs that make science fun for families, teachers, and many others. I love having the flexibility to find new and innovative (even unexpected ways) of sharing our excitement in science.
What advice would you give to students who would like to work on a project such as SDO?
No matter what type of job you want on a project such as SDO, you need math and science. This is true whether you are a scientist, engineer, manager, education specialist or administrative assistant. They are important no matter what you do. The next important thing is perseverance. Don’t ever give up. You have to fight for what you want. Life and work are what YOU make of it. Also don’t forget to talk to a lot of people, you never know when the person sitting next to you on a plane could change you life forever!
What do you do on an average day?
Just like every job there are fun tasks and not so fun tasks. On an average day I answer a lot of emails. A LOT! Then I write reports to keep everyone aware of everything going on. But once those are all done, the fun begins. I get to give tours of Goddard, run Family Science Nights, travel from conference to conference and see the US, and I get to design brochures, posters, stickers, and whole lot more.
What are the greatest challenges of your job?
Teamwork. Teamwork is both amazing and a challenge at the same time. It is great to be able to bounce ideas off people and come up with the best solution as a team. That is how some of the most creative ideas come about. However, a team approach means different personalities, goals, and desires. Sometimes it can be hard to balance it all out and make sure everyone is happy with the outcome. It certainly makes work more interesting!
What is your favorite hobby/activity outside of work?
I love to travel. I have been to Latin America, Asia, and Europe and have seen many different countries in each. I love trying to new foods and learning new languages to interact with the local folks from every country I visit. I also quite enjoy cooking. Some of my favorite moments in life are inviting friends over, cooking a great meal, and sitting around a table for hours talking about everything and anything.

About Emile

Full Name: Emilie Drobnes

Position/Title: Solar Dynamics Observatory Education and Public Outreach Lead

Hometown (City,State): Chapel Hill, NC

  • M.A., Contemporary European Political Culture and Identity, 2000
    Université Paris III – La Sorbonne, FRANCE
  • B.A., International Studies, 1999
    University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, NC
Career Highlights:

I created and managed the SDO Education and Public Outreach (EPO) presence, leading a local and national team in the development, assessment, and dissemination of a variety of programs and products. I led the development and implementation of innovative and award-winning EPO programs and events based on current pedagogical best practices that actively contribute to the field of education research and evaluation. I have been involved with the strategic internal and external communication coordination for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. I initiated, organized, and was appointed chair of the first Solar Physics Division EPO committee and helped guide the direction of EPO efforts of the American Astronomical Society and American Geophysical Union through the implementation of family science and educator professional development programs.

What influenced your career choice?

I was about to finish my master’s degree and had no idea what to do next. While flying home to visit family I sat next to someone on the plane who worked for the SOHO Mission at Goddard Space Flight Center. About two month later I was working at NASA as the ESA/SOHO administrative assistant. The ESA group encouraged me to learn new skills to explore any and every opportunity. I learned how to code websites, earned my certificate in Graphics Design, and ultimately worked my way into a career in EPO.

Hobbies and Interests:

love traveling and meeting new people. I have been to: Belgium, Belize, Canada, Columbia, Costa Rica, England, France, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, and Vietnam. I also enjoy scuba diving, dancing, cooking, reading, singing, and pretty much any type of creative activity. Since I believe it is important to face your fears and push your limits, I have been known to jump from planes, ride mechanical bulls, and go white water rafting.