About Summer Ash

StarTalk All-Star

Summer Ash is the Director of Outreach for Columbia University’s Department of Astronomy where she has been based since 2008. She spent her first three and a half years teaching as a Science Fellow on Frontiers of Science in Columbia’s Core Curriculum before transitioning to public outreach for the last five.

As a self-professed space cadet, Summer grew up dragging friends and family out at all hours of the day or night to look up at the sky. She earned a bachelors in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and a masters in space studies from the International Space University and worked as an aerospace engineer on the X-34 Program at Orbital Sciences Corporation (now Orbital ATK) before making the jump from low-earth orbit to intergalactic scales. Summer did five years of graduate research at the University of Cambridge on the evolution of radio galaxies and the effect of active galactic nuclei (a.k.a. AGN or supermassive black holes) on galaxies and galaxy clusters. Consequently, she will work AGN into everyday conversation whenever possible.

Having been both a rocket scientist and a radio astronomer, she’s now harnessing her powers for science communication and to advocate for equity and inclusion across all STEM fields. Her written work has been published online in The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Scientific American, Slate, Nautilus Magazine, and Now.Space. Summer has been doing web videos for NBC.com since 2014 and hosted a series of science videos for the Science Forward program at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College in 2015. She is also a consultant for the Science & Entertainment Exchange arm of the National Academies of Science and the “In-House Astrophysicist” for The Rachel Maddow Show.

She tweets as @Summer_Ash, is one-half of @Startorialist, and one-fourth of @AstroOnTapNYC.