An Interview with Debra Buczkowski

Meet Dawn Participating Scientist Debra Buczkowski from the JHU Applied Physics Lab
The following interview is a written interview conducted by the Outreach team at Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
Dawn participating scientist Debra Buczkowski

What do you think is the most compelling aspect of the Dawn mission?

It is always exciting to visit a Solar System body that has never been visited before.

How are you participating in Dawn science as it relates to the Dawn mission?

As a Participating Scientist, I will be mapping the linear structures on the Vesta surface, analyzing their morphology and modeling their formation mechanisms.

What are some of the challenges that accompany your job with the Dawn mission?

Mapping on an irregularly shaped body is always challenging.

What do you enjoy most about your work with the Dawn mission?

I've enjoyed learning about the spacecraft, instruments and mission plan.

Describe your thoughts and feelings as the Dawn spacecraft is approaching at Vesta?

Impatience, eagerness, excitement.

What are the most critical aspects of your job in the next several months in preparation for Vesta arrival?

As a participating scientist, I do not have a role in preparing Dawn for Vesta arrival. Instead I am preparing the software and tools I will use for mapping Vesta's surface.

What are your leisure time activities?

Swimming, biking, running, horseback riding.

Do you have a yet-to-be-achieved life goal?

I'd love to walk on the moon. I wouldn't mind going to Mars either.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An astronaut.

At what point did you determine that you would pursue a career in space science? Tell about the path that led you to this field.

When I first saw the Viking images of Mars. I was seven. I took a lot of science and math in high school and studied Astronomy as an undergraduate. I switched to Geology for graduate school, specializing in planetary studies.

What subjects were you interested in as a young student?

Physics, math.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

I first read Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card as a teenager. It remains high on my personal 'best books ever' list.

What advice would you give to aspiring engineers or scientists?

It is far too easy to assume that you can’t possibly succeed and so not even try. Don’t ever be afraid to try.

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