Influential scientists

We all have certain scientists that we look up to. I asked our panel about most influential scientists. Who did they look up to?

Nicole Gugliucci (“Noisy astronomer”, blogger, educator, post-doc)

Carl Sagan – because “Contact” had such a huge influence on me early on in helping me decide to become an astronomer. Also, his book “Demon Haunted World” was very influential on how I deal with extraordinary claims. Sadly, I never met him.

Joanne Attridge and Bob Phillips – my very first research advisors. I was a wee little undergrad doing a summer program at MIT Haystack Observatory. They took me in, taught me the basics (even when I’m sure I knew frustratingly little) and showed such great mentorship that I hope to emulate one day with my own students. Also, they were the first working lab/observatory scientists that I ever got to know, and found out that not only are scientists smart, but they are fun!

Phillip Plait – He’s been a big influence on me as a science communicator. Plus he’s been a really great friend, and I love sharing grad school stories with him! (We went to the same PhD program, though years apart.)

Fraser Cain (publisher at, co-host of Astronomy Cast)

I know it’s a common answer, but obviously Carl Sagan had a huge influence on me when I was younger, through his television shows and books. I couldn’t get enough of his inspirational work. As I got older, though, and got closer to real working scientists, I became inspired by the people working to extend our knowledge of the Universe and share this with the public. People like Dr. Phil Plait and Dr. Pamela Gay, whom I’m honoured to consider friends too.

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