MU graduate student Marlee Baldridge did not major in science, she does not have any scientific background nor did she ever participate in lab work. Baldridge, though, spent her fall as an intern for NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Even with a lack of professional science training, Baldridge’s main job as a NASA communicator was to take the science the scientists researched and translate it for the general public to understand.
“Goddard helped build the James Webb space telescope which is said to launch in the 2020s and it is the most powerful telescope we’ve ever built,” Baldridge said. “It can see so far, it can see light so old, it’s near the beginnings of the universe. So we describe it not just as a telescope to people, we describe it as a time machine because it’s going to let us understand how the universe actually formed.”
Although she can’t help the researchers develop new technology or build new telescopes, they told her she does play an important role in the scientific process.
Baldridge said scientists “are actually very very thankful for the communication team and was very gracious and always say, we do all the science, but none of it would matter if we couldn’t get it out to people and you guys help us do that.”
It is part of a science communicator’s job to ensure the public is interested in the discoveries taking place at NASA, so Baldridge frequently needed to place the new findings in a context which the general public could not only understand them, but be interested in them.
“Science journalism is how we can help viewers better understand how they navigate their day,” Baldridge said.
After she finishes her master’s degree, Baldridge plans on staying in the science communication field and already has submitted job applications for open positions.