We celebrate our female rockstars #AOTeamWomen

March 8, 2018


#AOTeamWomen - Picture

Our female Rockstars from left to right: Dr. Eliana Nossa, Mrs. Wanda Santiago, Dr. Anne Virkki, Mrs. Luz Lopez, Mrs. Carmen Rosario, Mrs. Maria Muñiz, Mrs. Maria Mercado, Mrs. Eva Robles, Dr. Alessandra Pacini, Dr. Pedrina Terra, Mrs. Sujeily Santiago

Arecibo Observatory (AO) joins the celebration of the #InternationalWomenWeek, which is a global event celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. We celebrate and value our #AOWomenTeam, as they are such a strong and important asset to the daily operations of our telescope. Their outstanding contribution is palpable in all our departments and their labor can be distinguished in their administrative, support, scientific and technical roles.

The #AOWomenTeam makes up approximately 26% (31/118) of all our staff. The current role distribution is as follows: 29% Administrative, 7% Technical / Engineering, 35% Scientific , 7% Support Staff, 22% Museum Guides


Our female Rockstars love what they do and are always willing to share their experience working in a world-class research facility like the Arecibo Observatory. Scientists like Dr. Tapasi Ghosh, Dr. Anne Virkki, Dr. Flaviane Venditti, Dr. Nipuni are part of the Radio Astronomy and Planetary scientific staff.


Dr. Anne Virkki

"I have worked as a postdoctoral scientist at the Arecibo Observatory for almost 2 years. My work includes both planetary radar observations of asteroids and comets with the most powerful planetary radar system in the world, and also theoretical research. I study how our planetary radar measurements can be used for understanding the physical properties of the targets, such as their near-surface density, mineralogy or even the shapes of baseball-sized rocks on their surfaces. I think planetary radar is cool because it can reveal things that optical instruments cannot."

“I think planetary radar is cool because it can reveal things that optical instruments cannot.”
- Dr. Anne Virkki
Dr. Flaviane Venditti

"I joined the Planetary Radar Science group almost one year ago, and together we work observing and characterizing near-Earth objects. My main research area is orbital dynamics, more specifically I study asteroid deflection techniques and gravitational perturbation of irregular shaped objects. I find it hard not look up at the night sky and wonder about everything outside our little planet; I'm happy I get to be part of it."

"I find it hard not look up at the night sky and wonder about everything outside our little planet, I'm happy I get to be part of it." - Dr. Flaviane Venditti
Dr. Nipuni Palliyaguru

"I am interested in various radio transients and here at the Arecibo Observatory. I study pulsars and fast radio bursts. I am also involved in the North American Nanohertz Obsevatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) that aims to detect gravitational waves by timing pulsars. Pulsars are awesome because they are basically laboratories that allow us to study extreme conditions that we cannot even imagine having on earth. "

"Pulsars are awesome because they are basically laboratories that allow us to study extreme conditions that we cannot even imagine having on earth. " - Dr. Nipuni Palliyaguru

Also, we have Dr. Eliana Nossa, which is part of the scientific staff within the Space & Atmospheric group and also serves as an Engineer in charge of the operation of the AO's Heating Facility.

Dr. Eliana Nossa

"I am an aeronomer, a scientist that studies the Earth’s Ionosphere. I have expended almost a decade hunting the natural RF aurora over Puerto Rico. They have the same RF signature as the northern lights at high-latitudes, but they do not emit light. I study how the neutral particles at around 100 km interact with the metallic ions creating this phenomenon. To do that, I use the incoherent scatter radar (ISR) at Arecibo Observatory as well as a coherent radar located in St. Croix. I also perform experiments to generate artificial ionospheric plasma layers using HF waves launched from the ground. Some of these artificial layers produce artificial aurora. "

" “I am fascinated with the fact that the ionosphere is a layer that needs to be understood as well as a laboratory to study wave propagation and plasma interactions. And I can do all of this just here at the Arecibo Observatory, the only place in the US that holds an HF Facility as well as the most sensitive ISR in the World." - Dr. Eliana Nossa

Dr. Shikha Raizada, Dr. Pedrina Terra and Mrs. Eva Robles are also part of the Space & Atmospheric group. Dr. Shikha is a Senior Research Associate, and her research work is mostly done at the Lidar Lab. Dr. Terra is a Senior Research Associate, and she leads the Remote Optical Facility (ROF) of AO at Culebra island. On the technical side, we have Mrs. Robles who is a senior programmer and data analyst.

Dr. Pedrina Terra

"I have worked as a Research Associate at the Space and Atmospheric Group at AO for over 12 years. My work includes passive optical aeronomy and radar observations. I study the ionosphere - thermosphere coupling and associated phenomena. However, my relationship with AO started about 25 years ago when I was a student in Brazil and saw a picture of the big dish. From that moment on, it became a dream to be able to work here. It has been an amazing opportunity to study our atmosphere from a such a unique site."

“It has been an amazing opportunity to study our atmosphere from a such a unique site."
- Dr. Pedrina Terra
Mrs. Eva Robles

"Working as a data analyst for different airglow emissions has been so gratifying. The daily challenges combine with many colleagues at this unique facility is magnificent. I take great pride in my job performance. I'm so proud of being a part of the successful achievement acquired on the Culebra project. The scientific research has been exceptional!"

“ "Dreams do become a reality! However one must really work hard to pursue them with people who are supportive and recognize each other's talents." "
- Mrs. Eva Robles

On the administrative front, we are ably assisted by strong women like Mrs. Luz Lopez which is our HR manager from UMET side, Mrs. Maria Mercado - who serves as our Purchasing Agent, Mrs. Sujeily Santiago - who serves as Administrative Director at the Science & Visitor Center, Mrs. Wanda Santiago - who serves as Administrative Assistant at the Electronics Dept. and Mrs. Carmen Rosario - who currently serves as Office Manager in the administration area.

Mrs. Sujeily Santiago

"As an Administrative Director, I have the chance to make a difference in the people that come to visit us. If we can inspire people to learn more about science and the AMAZING work that we do in AO, we achieved the goal."

“The secret to success is keeping positive... Your attitude determines your direction!"
- Mrs. Sujeily Santiago
Mrs. Wanda Santiago

"I have worked as an Administrative Assistant for over 18 years at the Arecibo Observatory. I am involved in all the aspects of the Electronics Dept. Why I like my job at the Arecibo Observatory because it is one of the most interesting places to visit and it gives me the opportunity to meet people from another culture. "

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim"
- Mrs. Maria Mercado
“I have met people from all over the world and I am proud to work at one of the best places, where I have grown professionally; The Arecibo Observatory."
- Mrs. Carmen Rosario

And last but not least, we would like to distinguish our enthusiastic and charismatic Science & Visitor Center Tour guides, which are our visitors first contact at the museum and who have the big responsibility of sharing the great science that is done at AO and inspire our children visitors.

  • Thalia Garcia, Jomaries Rivera Zariel Berdier, Melissa Rivera, Amaya Gabriela, Rebeca Ortiz, Delismarie Maldonado

List of our Female Staff

(Sorted by Alphebetic Order)

Dr. Alessandra Pacini
Visiting Scientist
Space & Atmospheric Sciences

Dr. Anne Virkki
Postdoctoral Associate (USRA)
Planetary Radar Group

Annette Soto
Administrative Assistant
Telescope & Facilities
Maintenance/Environmental

Betzaida Aponte
Research Assistant (USRA)
Planetary Radar Group

Mrs. Carmen Rosario
Administrative Assistant (SRI)
Administration

Dr. Eliana Nossa
Research Associate (SRI)
Space & Atmospheric Science

Mrs. Eva Robles
Data Analyst / Programmer (SRI)
Space & Atmospheric Sciences

Dr. Flaviane Venditti
Postdoctoral Research Scientist (USRA)
Planetary Radar Group

Gladys Picon
Human Resources Representative (USRA)
Administration

Ivelisse Negrón
Administrative Assistant (UMET)
Telescope & Facilities
Maintenance/Environmental

Mrs. Jasmine Velez
Administrative Director (UMET)
Administration

Dr. Kristen M. Jones
Postdoctoral Associate (USRA)
Astronomy Group

Luisa Zambrano
Research Assistant /
Graduate Student (USRA)

Planetary Radar Group

Mrs. Luz Lopez
HR Manager (UMET)
Administration

Mrs. Maria Mercado
Purchasing Agent (UMET)
Administration

Mrs. Maria Muñiz
VSQ Hosuekeeping (UMET)
Support

Dr. Nipuni Palliyaguru
Postdoctoral Associate (USRA)
Astronomy Group

Dr. Pedrina Terra Dos Santos
Sr. Research Associate (SRI)
Space & Atmospheric Sciences

Dr. Shikha Raizada
Senior Research Associate (USRA)
Space & Atmospheric Sciences

Mrs. Sujeily Santiago
Administrative Director (UMET)
Science & Visitor Center

Dr. Tapasi Ghosh
Senior Radio Astronomer (USRA)
Astronomy Group

Mrs. Yasmin Santiago
Supervisor (UMET)
Science & Visitor Center

Mrs. Wanda Menendez
Administrative Assistant (UMET)
Science & Visitor Center

Mrs. Wanda Santiago
Administrative Assistant (SRI)
Electronics Department


Keywords: IWD, international, women, march, 8, Arecibo, observatory, AO, rockstars, radio, telescope