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Julie Rathbun Personal/Professional Page

Basically, I study planets. Planets with solid surfaces, to be exact. I have degrees in Physics and Astronomy, but the research I do is usually called planetary science, sometimes planetary geophysics. In the past I have studied volcanoes on Venus and hydrothermal systems on Mars. Currently I study moons of planets, mostly those of Jupiter.

Diversity in Planetary Science

During my career, I've experienced first-hand the lack of diversity in Physics, Astronomy, and Planetary Science. When I received my Bachelor's degree in 1994, I was the only women in a class of 7 students graduating with physics degrees. I was hired by the University of Redlands in 2001, the first woman to be hired in the physics department. I was made a full professor in that department in 2015, and was the only woman hired into a tenure-track position in that department. According to the APS, in 2010 only 8% of Full Professors of physics were women.

Since October, 2017, I have been the chair of the DPS Professional Culture and Climate Subcommitte. The Subcommittee has invited speakers for the annual DPS meeting for the past 3 years and those slides are posted at the link.

In July 2018, I attended Hearts of Gold (Geosciences Opportunities for Leadership in Diversity) which was a 2 day workshop on issues in diversity and inclusivity.

Women on NASA spacecraft Science teams

Many planetary scientists aspire to involvement in robotic spacecraft mission science teams. Membership on such a team offers brand new data, financial security, and a sense of awe and exploration. It can lead to a cascade of opportunities from conference and public presentations, to membership in subsequent missions, and prestige in the community.

I have led a group of planetary and social scientists to determine the percentage of women on 26 robotic planetary missions over the past 41 years. Our results were presented at the 2015 and 2016 DPS meetings, in the Women in Planetary Science and Planetary Society blogs, and in Nature Astronomy. The conclusion is that from 2001 through 2016, the percentage of women involved in spacecraft science teams has remained flat, at 15.8%. At the same time, the percentage of women in the field has increased from ~15% to ~25%. I was also interviewed on this topic by Science Magazine.

Other Presentations

At the Planetary Science Vison 2050 Workshop, I presented a poster on workforce issues. The abstract is also available.

At the 2017 Women in Astronomy IV and the 2018 Women in Planetary Science and Exploration meetings, I presented posters on behalf of L. Quick, S. Diniega, and myself, on Women of Color in the Planetary Science Workforce. We showed that if you assume 100% of white men that have the talent and desire to be planetary scientists do so, then only ~30% of white women do and less than 3% of women of color (not including Asian women). This represents a major loss of potentially talented women of color who are kept out of the planetary science community.

At the Women in Planetary Science and Exploration meeting, I also presented a poster on behalf of the DPS Professional Culture and Climate Subcommittee (PCCS). We highlighted several events at the 2017 DPS meeting, including the lecture on Microaggressions and the use of pronoun stickers.

At the 2018 Lunar and Planetary Science meeting, I presented a poster on The Planetary Science Workforce: Who is missing?. At the 2018 Division for Planetay Science meeting, I gave a talk on the History of the Planetary Science Workforce: Why does the DPS need a subcommittee on Professional Culture and Climate?.

DPS prizes

In early June, 2017, DPS announced the winners of their major prizes. Margie Kivelson was awarded the Kuiper Prize, which honors outstanding contributions to the field of planetary science. In May 2016, Margie was awarded the Monolith award from the Europa Clipper team and, after the award presentation, she gave an amazing talk about her career. I was lucky enough to have attended this talk.

Of the six 2017 DPS award winners, 4 were awarded to women. ALL of the women highly deserved their awards, but when such a large percentage of a minority group gets prestigious awards, there is bound to be those who call it out as undeserved or pandering. However, DPS awards have ignorded deserving women for many years. In 2016, only 1 out of 5 awards was given to a women, and that that was the jornalism award (not given to a scientist). Furthermore, in the history of the awards, most have been awarded primarily to men. During Pat Knezcek's Plenary lecture at the 2016 DPS meeting, she showed a chart showing the numbers of men and women that had been awarded DPS prizes. At that time, even the Urey prize, for young scientists, had only been awarded to 16% women when there has been more than 20% women in the field since ~2004. The awards that have gone to the most women are the Eberhart, which is for journalism, and the Masursky, which is for service. Margy Kivelson is only the second women EVER awarded the Kuiper prize (the other was Carle M. Pieters, in 2004).

Europa's thermal surface

Jupiter's moon Europa may be one of the best places in the solar system to look for life. The major ingredients for habitability are: liquid water, organic compounds, and energy that life can use. On Europa, that energy likely comes from tidal heating, which may also cause a surface heat flow, or endogenic thermal anomalies that would be detectable by an instrument that measures surface temperatures.

I'm one of the Co-Investigators of the Europa - THermal Emission IMaging System (E-THEMIS) instrumment, which, when launched aboard NASA's Europa Clipper spacecraft, will measure surface temperatures at Europa.

Volcanism on Io

In collaboration with John Spencer at Southwest Research Institute, I have been using Galileo Photopolarimeter-Radiometer (PPR) and ground-based data to study volcanism on Jupiter's moon, Io. Io is the most volcanically active body in the Solar System, putting out more than 40 times the amount of energy that the Earth does. (And Io is only about the size of our moon!) Approximately twice a month, using occultation techniques, I observe Io from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. These observations are performed remotely from my office in California and can be used to monitor the status of Volcanoes on Io. I generally concentrate on the most powerful volcano on Io, Loki, which erupts approximately once every year and a half for several months.

In 2002, we found that Loki erupts periodically. In 2006 we refined our model for Loki and developed a quantitative, mathematical model of an overturning lava lake that matched our observations including the end of periodic overturn in 2002 and the new eruption in late 2003.

In 2006, I hosted an Io Workshop at the University of Redlands.

Cassini Imaging

I spent the Fall of 2005 on sabbatical at Cornell University. There, I worked with Steve Squyres and the Cassini spacecraft imaging team studying tectonics on the moons of Saturn, especially Enceladus.

Student Research Projects

Sebastian Saballett '17 worked with me during the summer of 2016 analyzing NIMS data of Io's active volcanoes. Hannah Wehrner '18 worked with me during the summer of 2016 deconvolving ground-based images of Io. Kyle McMillian '13 worked with me during the summer of 2010 studying New Horizons data of Io.

Nathaniel Rodriguez '11 worked with me during the summer of 2008 and independent studies in 2008-2009 to use the Galileo PPR instrument to search for thermal anomalies on Europa. While none were found, he has determined the thermal properties of Europa's surface.

Emily Dahlberg '10, spent summer 2008 trying to determine how the ridge on Iapetus formed. She was able to disprove that a convection model could create the unique feature.

David Miller '09 worked with me during the summer of 2007 continuing the work of Alicia Barnash comparing tectonic and impact crater interactions on the icy satellites of Saturn.

Nate Papapietro '09 worked with me during the summer of 2007 analyzing short wavelength ground-based data of Io's volcanoes.

Alicia Barnash '08 worked with me during the summer of 2006. We used Cassini imaging data to study the relationship between tectonics and impact craters on icy satellites.

Mara Block '06 worked with me during the summer of 2004 examining the large volume of PPR data in order to pick out those data worthy of further study.

Chase Ellis '06 worked with me during the summer of 2003 looking at mutual occultation data taken at the IRTF in Hawaii.

Steven Johnson '03 studied Jupiter occultations of Io during 2 semesters of independent study and the summer of 2002. This work became his senior thesis.

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