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Karen Jean Meech

Astronomer, Institute for Astronomy, Hawaii
Ph.D. Planetary Science, MIT 1987
B.A. Space Physics, Rice University, 1981

Research Interests: Karen Meech is an astronomer at the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. Her scientific interests include several areas of cometary science: evolution and aging processes in comets, observations of distant comets, Kuiper belt comets and astrobiology. Recently, as PI of the University of Hawaii NASA Astrobiology lead team, she has become keenly interested in exploring the origin of Earth's ocean water using interdisciplinary techniques (comet observations and geophysical field work).

Her teaching experience at UH is extensive and ranges from basic undergraduate astronomy courses to upper level space exploration to graduate level planetary physics, as well as supervising graduate students on thesis and research projects. She has also been involved in seminars and adult education classes. She also participated in an international educational series by giving a teleconference lecture in Spanish to a class in Honduras.

Description of Karen's E/PO activities:
Karen is extremely active in educational outreach in astronomy. From 1993 to 1995 she volunteered 1500 hours of her time to run a week-long summer workshops in astronomy for the top high school science teachers and students statewide. The program gave teachers hands-on training and experience with innovative new educational materials in astronomy, gave the students a personal look at science careers and everyone a glimpse of the forefront astronomical research being conducted in Hawai'i. This program was reborn as a major NSF-Funded Teacher-Enhancement program (1999-2004). In the context of the UH NAI program, Karen is working with her EPO lead to help with a variety of outreach projects, including an Astrobiology Laboratory Institute for Instructors summer program, an Astrobiology Winter School (2005) for graduate students, an Astrobiology Summer School (2006) for graduate students, as well as a large amount of public speaking and other activities. Through the NAI we are also developing an Astrobiology web magazine resource for the public. All of our resources are on the web at www.ifa.hawaii.edu/UHNAI.

Why do you like doing E/PO?
The students of today are the researchers of tomorrow, and it is important to engage them in the excitement of science now, as a preparation for our future advancement.

Why do you think participation in Education and Public Outreach is important for scientists?
E/PO is important as the avenue to share what the scientists do with this future generation - both to educate the people who will be our next generation of scientists, and to generate the broad base for support of the science and technology.

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