PostHeaderIcon Ada Lovelace Day and Carnivals of Space

Susan Sakimoto

I want to tell you about Susan Sakimoto. No, you haven’t heard of her. No, you won’t be asked to write a report on her (at least, probably not this year). She was the unofficial adviser for my Bachelor’s Honors thesis project in Astronomy-Geology at Whitman College. At the time she was working at NASA Goddard, now she’s a professor at Notre Dame. She studies lava flows … on Mars. And the part that really impresses me: she has kids (whose dad also works full-time at Notre Dame), she runs, and yet somehow her house is still cleaner than mine. Let me reiterate that:

Susan has:

  • children (and it’s not like they have a stay-at-home-dad instead of a stay-at-home-mom)
  • a full-time job – doing science (which you kinda never stop thinking about, and sometimes you have to work all night on to meet deadlines, and often sends you to meetings in who-knows-where)
  • a regular “physical” hobby (not the kind of hobby you can put aside for a month and come back to)
  • and then she took me on as an unofficial advisee…
  • oh yeah, and her house is clean!

I dunno about you, but one or two of those sound like plenty to me. She’s one of those amazing people who does it all. I often feel like I can barely handle my full-time job and house chores. You start talking to me about kids and trying to make it to yoga every week, regularly, and I start wondering what I can drop or cut short.

I’m impressed, but these women are not rare. I’ve met many of them, and I continue to meet more. The key seems to be commitment. If you set your mind do something, and commit to it, you can. So go for it!

Ada Lovelace Day

So why am I telling you about Susan Sakimoto? Because today is Ada Lovelace day. Ada is widely attributed as the woman who wrote the first computer program. She worked closely with Charles Babbage on developing the first mechanical computers. She is one of the many amazing women in science and technology.

As part of the celebration of Ada Lovelace Day I signed a pledge saying I would write about a woman I admire, someone who works in technology. Unfortunately for me, there are so many women in science and technology I admire, that I didn’t know who to write about! There’s Ada herself, of course, and Annie Jump Cannon, Cecelia Payne-Gaposhkin, and Williamina Fleming. And then there are the current scientists (most of whom you’ve never heard of because you tend not to get famous until you’re dead or almost dead): Hannah Jang-Condell, Susan Sakimoto, Andrea Dobson, Pamela Gay (the list goes on and on and on). As you now know, I finally settled on Susan.

Carnival of Space

In the interest of clearing up loose ends – I owe you links to several Carnivals of Space:

Where’d I Get My Info:

7 Responses to “Ada Lovelace Day and Carnivals of Space”

  • Hannah says:

    Awww, I’m so flattered you included me in your list of scientists!

    FWIW, you’re pretty awesome yourself. I love reading your blog!

  • Rita says:

    Dear Alice,

    I remember learning about Charles Babbage and the first computer! :) Also, I can’t remember her name, but I believe a WOMAN was credited with being the first in space…she darlingly sailed high above…in France, I believe, in a hot-air balloon. Oh, who was it?
    Scratching my head…


  • alicesastroinfo says:

    Actually, that story sounds slightly familiar…

    Are you talking about this?
    Jeannette Ridlon Piccard –


  • Steve says:

    There’s a robot character in my current novel named Ada, after Ada Lovelace. (Or possibly after the character in the game “Resident Evil 4.” But then, the character in RE4, Ada Wong, is certainly named after Ada Lovelace. Programmers dig her).

    Can you confirm for me that it’s pronounced “Ayda” and not “Adda”?

    — Steve

  • alicesastroinfo says:

    My husband has only ever heard “Adda.” I’ve only ever heard “Ayda.” I guess I can’t help you, Steve ….

  • Bill Wilson says:

    Susan happens to be a client of mine, and I think this is a great tribute. We lawyers occasionally joke that some of our not-so-bright clients are “rocket scientists.” I love to mention Susan (not by name) and say “she’s a rocket scientist.” I take great pride in saying, “No–really–she’s a rocket scientist. She studies geological movement and other similar stuff on Mars.”

    Susan is one cool scientist. As a kid who used to dream of being an astronaut, I really enjoy having her as a client.

  • alicesastroinfo says:

    Bill – I agree, she really is cool. I also like the fact that she’s not someone that everyone knows about already.

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