cara battersby

Assistant Professor
University of Connecticut

CU-STARs Outreach Trip

Cara Battersby Fiske Planetarium Eclipse Day VolunteerOUTREACH

Astronomy inspires awe and reminds us all of the tiny piece of the cosmos that we inhabit.  Awareness of our place in the universe, this pale blue dot, diminishes the magnitude of our conflicts and encourages us to be good to one another.  I feel fortunate to be an ambassador on this mission, and eager to share my love of astronomy with the public.

I am passionate about improving equitability in the sciences and am dedicated to developing programs to help improve the diversity of the next generation of scientists.  I have been involved in a number of outreach programs in Boulder and Boston, including taking a leading role in the development of the CU-STARs program and women in astronomy group in Boulder


Currently, I am co-leading a new program called BiteScis to connect science graduate students with K-12 teachers to develop lesson plans that bring modern science research into the classroom. Our first workshop was June 2015, held in connection with the highly successful communicating science conference for graduate students, ComSciCon. Our next workshop is November 2015, supported by a $25,000 grant from the Templeton Foundation. By the end of the workshop, we hope to have 10-20 lesson plans hosted on the web in an easily searchable and freely available platform that bring modern science research into the K-12 classroom. This program is the first of its kind, and we hope these unique lesson plans will educate and inspire our next generation of scientists.

University of Colorado Science, Technology, and Astronomy Recruits: CU-STARs

As a graduate student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, I developed and led the CU-STARs program from the ground up (2010-2013).  CU-STARs is targeted to address the main triggers of early career attrition for underrepresented minorities in STEM disciplines. By providing financial support (through work-study at the campus Planetarium), social engagement, mentorship, free tutoring, and an active support network, we aim to build an inclusive community to support the STARs in their STEM major.

The culmination of the program for the recruits are a series of high school outreach events in underserved areas (inner city and rural alike -- see pictures below), in which they become the expert. The STARs are paid for their time and take the lead in planning, teaching, and facilitating programs for high school students, including classroom presentations, interactive lab activities, solar observing, and star parties. The high school outreach events provide role models and STEM exposure for the underserved high school community while simultaneously cementing the personal achievements and successes for the STARs. CU-STARs is now in its 4th year and is still growing.

CU-STARs Outreach Trip in Denver      CU-STARs Outreach Trip in Denver     CU-STARs Outreach Trip in Denver

Women in Astronomy

As chair of the Women in Astronomy (WIA) group at the University of Colorado (2010-2012), I transformed the group from a social, monthly lunch meeting to an influential group in the department. During that time, we hosted a forum on women's issues for the department, submitted recommendations for promoting equitability in graduate admissions, and hosted the first-ever women in astronomy retreat (see pictures below), in addition to monthly lunch discussions about issues concerning women in astronomy.

First ever University of Colorado Women in Astronomy Retreat   First ever University of Colorado Women in Astronomy Retreat   First ever University of Colorado Women in Astronomy Retreat

Other Outreach

WorldWide Telescope Ambassdor (2015),  Sommers-Bausch Observatory Open Houses and Astronomy Day Volunteer (CU-Boulder, 2008-2013), Cool Girls Science & Art Club Presenter (2012), Boulder Safehouse Children’s Volunteer (2009-2013), Women in Science Career Panel (Flagstaff Academy, 2011), Career Day Mentor (Westview Middle School 2010), Science Fair Judge (2009, 2011), Boston Museum of Science Discovery Center Interpreter (2007), Horizons for Homeless Children Playspace Activity Leader (2005-2008).