Amber Straughn: Where is the Astrophysicist Now?

As a documentary giving us an insight into the ambitious December 2021 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, Netflix’s ‘Unknown: Cosmic Time Machine’ is absolutely unlike any other. That’s because it comprises not only beautiful imagery but also exclusive interviews with renowned engineers and scientists alike to really shine a light upon the realities of our expansive universe. Amongst those to thus feature here to help move the narrative along was actually Astrophysicist Amber Straughn — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about her, we’ve got the details for you.

Who is Amber Straughn?

It was back when Amber was merely a young girl growing up on her family’s cattle, pig, and watermelon farm that she first developed an interest in space, just for it to expand as the years passed. “From the time I was six or seven, I’d decided… I want to be an astronomer,” she candidly elucidated in the original production. “I grew up in rural Arkansas on a little farm, middle of nowhere. There were no city lights around. It was very dark [at night]. The sky was beautiful, and I was enthralled,” which further got pushed once she saw the images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on television while she was in fourth or fifth grade in the early 1990s.

It hence comes as no surprise Amber enrolled in the University of Arkansas for a Bachelor’s in Physics as soon as she finished high school in 1998, only to graduate Magna Cum Laude in 2002. The truth is she’d already worked alongside a team of fellow students to write a successful research proposal on NASA’s microgravity KC-135 2001 plane by this point, enabling her admission to Arizona State University. It’s from here that she completed her Master’s degree in 2004 prior to earning a 3-year NASA Harriett Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship for minor groups in STEM and then her Ph.D. a little over three years later in 2008.

That’s when Amber kickstarted her career as a NASA Postdoctoral Program Fellow at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, just to become a James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) project member by 2011. She actually evolved into Deputy Project Scientist for JWST Science Communications, especially because she already had the appropriate earlier experience of using the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope. In other words, her unwavering passion for comprehending how stars and black holes form in distant galaxies, along with how such processes change over time, sparked her ultimate standing.

Amber Straughn is a Proud Family Woman Today

From what we can tell, since Amber continues to remain utterly devoted to aspects such as galaxy formation, evolution, dark energy, black holes, as well as all their effects on our universe as a whole, it’s honestly no surprise she still serves as a Research Astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. However, it’s imperative to note that for a couple of years (2014-2015), she was primarily based at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington DC to fulfill a satisfactory stint at the Office of the Chief Scientist before suddenly taking on the role of Chair for Hubble’s 25th Anniversary Celebration Committee.

Coming to Amber’s precise current standing, apart from being an Astrophysicist, it appears as if she’s even a public figure dedicated to sharing her/NASA’s work with the world through not just social media but also speaking engagements. In fact, whether it be at schools, astronomy clubs, museums, research societies, or private events in the local Maryland area or nationwide, she’s willing to make appearances everywhere — all you have to do is book her through her website.

Then, going into a bit of Dr. Amber’s personal standing; well, she’s happily married, is a proud dog mom, a Pear Jam superfan, a hobby pilot, a hiker, a yogini, and a homebrewer, making it clear she presently loves her life at home as much as she loves her work and space.

Read More: Mike Menzel: Where is the NASA Engineer Now?