End-of-Year Updates

 

 

This month has seen a lot of science communication! I sat down with my colleague Jacqueline Campbell a few weeks ago to chat with students at a Spacelink participating school to discuss surface exploration of Mars. You can watch our broadcast here. I also had a lovely conversation with the fantastic podcast Superwomen in Science this spring and the episode has now been released! We talked about science communications, the relationship between art and science, and my work at MSSL.

The lab recently honored me with the 2018 Elizabeth Puchnarewicz Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Outreach for my engagement work in the past year. I am immensely grateful and look forward to new outreach and communications projects in the new year!

In the world of writing, my poem “a good child in 1907” – a piece partially based on A House for Mr. Biswas by the late & great V. S. Naipaul – has been published in Issue 3 of The Brown Orient alongside some incredible work. I’d highly recommend reading through this issue; please also consider purchasing previous issues to support this upcoming journal. Finally, I’ll be reading my poetry at the Rutland Arms in London on January 15 as the final stop of the “Global Poets Corner” – get your tickets here!

This has been a quiet year with respect to new art. I’ve written the following “microsettings” of my short poetry:

and have, very excitingly, been collaborating in-person with Najia Khaled on our album (listen to some demos here). The end of the year has me tackling some new scores for these songs, thinking about future directions with my composition (following the large volume of work from 2017 that I haven’t revisited at all), and finishing off a new collection of poetry.

It’s otherwise been a fast-paced first year of my Ph.D; I’ve been to Vienna, Madrid, Berlin, and Nantes for workshops and conferences, and have been finalizing the first chapter of my thesis. Next year brings experiments in data visualization for Mars over different rover landing sites, with new and ongoing collaborations. It’s an exciting time to be studying Mars!

Happy New Year x

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November Updates

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, so here’s a rundown on what I’ve been up to since May:

I was so honored to have five poems, including my music composition/poem/planetary hope “A Song for Mars,” in Trascender Magazine’s beautiful summer issue! Read them here (and make sure to check out all of the other lovely content, too). I will also have another five poems in Anomaly‘s Caribbean Folio, as well as a poem in the upcoming third issue of The Brown Orient Literary Journal.

Composing has been slow, but I’m continuing my “microsettings” of my short poetry. Here’s “orogenesis” for voice, violin, saxophone, and piano (and read the poem here):

I’ve had quite a hectic late summer/autumn in the way of my Ph.D. – in June I attended a NASA training at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Madrid, Spain, and in September I had the pleasure of attending the European Planetary Science Congress, as well as the AbGradE early career astrobiology symposium, in Berlin, Germany. You can read my poster abstract here.

A few weeks later I participated in the final three sols of the ExoFiT rover field trial, an experiment in remote science operations that involved a mock rover exploring a field site in Tabernas, Spain. As part of the PanCam team in the Rover Control Center (RCC) in Harwell my duties included processing panoramas and color images from the wide-angle camera (WAC) and high-resolution camera (HRC) of the PanCam emulator, AUPE. You can read more about the trial and see some footage from the Spain site here.

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The RCC during ExoFiT. Image credit: STFC.

Meanwhile, I wrote a short essay on equity and space science for fellow geologist Jazmin Scarlett’s series on diversity in the geosciences for Black History Month (UK). Finally, this week I’m in Nantes, France for a planetary science technical school on fluid-rock interactions, where I am presenting work on processing and visualizing 3D orbital datasets to understand the fluvial history of Gale Crater, Mars, having just submitted the first chapter of my thesis.

My art has been slow but playing with visualization – especially of a shiny new mosaic I have of Gale Crater, the result of several months of processing/analysis and eleven (!) 3D products – has been really satisfying.

Visualization of my 3D model of a channel in Gale Crater, Mars. The left shows the bird’s eye ‘map view’ and the right is ‘on the ground’ inside the channel. Visualization is in NASA DERT and these images are false-colored (for fun). Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / MSSL / D. M. Persaud

The next couple of months are a bit quieter before the new year, but I’m fleshing out and submitting new poetry projects, glaring at my music notation software and waiting for art to manifest, and working on some exciting Mars things – to be updated here hopefully more regularly!

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May Updates

 

It’s been a busy spring and I’ve been neglecting my updates!

In music — I had my electro-acoustics piece “Godspeed, John Glenn” at The Art of Planetary Science 2018 show at UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in February (in absentia). The piece is a bonus track of THEY WILL BE FREE and is an homage to John Glenn’s legacy, and I’m really glad to have shared this piece at such a wonderful event! You can listen to the track here. Najia Khaled and I are working on new music for our chamber-pop duo, as well – here’s a preview of “The Best of It.” After a few months’ break, I’m also starting to get back into setting my poetry; listen to “Alpha Lyrae” here.

I am blessed to have been interviewed about my upcoming book do not perform this by my wonderful uncle-cousin Rajiv Mohabir in Jacket2 as part of his landmark series on “Coolitude Poetics” – read the interview here. Additionally, I had a poem called “astronomy” published on The Aerogram for World Poetry Day, and have a new poem, “crime and science,” in the sixth issue of The Deaf Poets Society in conjunction with the Split the Rock Festival, at which I was honored to read a few poems via Skype. Another new poem of mine will be in this summer’s issue of Trascender Magazine. These poems are part of a new manuscript, house of mud, that I hope to share with you soon!

In outreach and public engagement, several UCL students and I successfully ran the Sutton Scholars “Mission to Mars” event in February for ~120 young students. I was also very honored to have been invited to speak at the Women in Physics London 2018 Conference at Kings College London on March 10th – read more about the event here  – and demonstrate rock fluorescence for kids at UCL’s International Day of Light celebration this month. Sharing aspects of earth and space science with children is always extremely rewarding, as I find it a two-way learning experience about our place in the solar system and what it means to relate to and study physics.

In this vein, I wrote a short reflection on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch for a great article by Emily Lakdawalla (The Planetary Society), “Talking About The Tesla,” on the AAS Women in Astronomy Blog in February. Finally, I’ve recently recorded an interview about my work for an episode of the spectacular podcast, Superwomen in Science, which will be out soon – this was a great conversation about the ways we define science vs. art, especially with regards to science communications.

In April I spent a week Vienna to participate in a 3D visualization workshop for planetary terrain and the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting; last week I presented at the ExoMars PanCam science team meeting and in the next month will also present at the Centre for Planetary Sciences meeting at MSSL – it’s been an extremely chaotic but rewarding spring! You can find ongoing updates from my group here on Twitter. x

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October Updates

It’s been a VERY long time since I did some updates, so here we go!

I spent a short time at NASA JPL at the end of August, finishing up my project using Cassini imaging to investigate crater relaxation on the icy moons of Saturn. It’s felt momentous leading into the Grand Finale of the mission as well as my doctoral studies, and it was a wonderful time.

The Cassini mission did sadly end on Sept. 15 but I was excited to spend the week tweeting about my work and hopes for the future beyond Cassini from the marvelous scicomm account Real Scientists, alongside several wonderful planetary scientists. Read my intro post here.

September also saw my very brief release of my self-produced album THEY WILL BE FREE: a song cycle. This was a genuine labor of love over the course of a full year, and I was so blessed to work with so many talented and wonderful artists – from musicians to poets – on this work (see the page for the full credits), and to explore electroacoustic and multimedia composition, epic poetry, poetic storytelling, and space science history in developing the album. TWBF really became the culmination of my composition challenge – to write 120 pieces in as many days, before starting graduate school – as well as my deep interest in fusing modern composition and poetry, and I’m proud of the work we’ve produced.

The AAS Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting is next week, and UA’s The Art of Planetary Science initiative will have an exhibition at the conference. I’ll have a song from the album, “Earthling 1,” playing as video! The exhibition is open to the public on Monday, Oct. 16.

Looking Ahead

I’m so excited to be an upcoming guest on the Femmes of STEM Podcast, a wonderful show that discusses women in science. I’ll be discussing my own journey in STEM as well as the astronomer and fellow polymath, Paris Marie Pişmiş. Listen to the Season 2 trailer here!

I spent some of July writing a semi-autobiographical novella called “gone,” which follows a girl on her nightly walks – and subliminal encounters with various forms of Death – in five parts. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this work but it was absolutely thrilling to return to writing fiction after 2-3 years, and I hope to finalize and submit to a few contests.

Last – but not least – I’ve started my Ph.D. in Space & Climate Physics at University College London, with a focus on imaging for Mars. The past year has been non-stop in my creative endeavors and I feel so fulfilled in beginning my doctorate this fall. I’ll be stepping back a bit with my art and writing (besides finalizing DNPT), and definitely reflecting on what I want my art to be in the future, as well as enjoying the wonders of planetary research. x

April Updates

Tonight, I’m heading to the Lit Exhibit – a literary gallery in Brooklyn curated and hosted by the ever-pioneering Lana C. Marilyn! I will have a poetry installation/performance piece called ‘write me a letter,’ which challenges the dichotomy of strangeness vs. intimacy. I’m so excited to be part of such a unique space, and I will definitely post updates about the event here.

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I’m still working on my “140 pieces in 140 days” challenge. I’m a little behind, but I’ve just reached #75 with “Journeys” for voice and piano:

This piece is part of a recent set of “microsettings” of my shortest poems.

Looking forward:

This spring has seen a lot of poetry-music hybrid projects for me, first with my “microsettings” and then “do not perform this,” in addition to a still-developing project as I’ve mentioned before. I’m hoping to announce this project soon!

Last: I’m so humbled to say that I will be starting a PhD in Space & Climate Physics this fall at University College London! I will continue to update on my travels and studies.

February Updates + Recommendations

I spent a fantastic evening in Brooklyn earlier this month, sitting on a panel of other self-published women at a Book Swap Party hosted by friend and fellow writer Lana C. Marilyn. We spoke about theme, style, honesty, and process in everything from poetry and confessional writing to our personal lives.

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Photo credit: Lana

I’ve challenged myself to write a piece (or complete movement, arrangement, etc.) every day from mid-January to mid-May, which will result in 140 pieces and hopefully expand my technique and voice. In this vein, I’ve begun work on 78 variations on a theme by Beethoven for woodblock (to follow up on a joke that I maintain is still quite funny) and a string quartet arrangement of Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances, and I’m continuing my work on the Dream Palace pieces, the newest of which, ‘nuit,’ can be found here.

I’ve also started work on a cohesive project involving both my composition and poetry, about which I won’t give details quite yet. As a preview, however, listen to my tribute to John Glenn, “Godspeed, John Glenn”, an electronic piece which utilizes Mercury-Atlas 6 mission recordings and is based on Glenn’s heartbeat. Also read “On Living” by Nazim Hikmet.

My recommendations for the start of the year:

  • My darling friend Najia Khaled has released “Dough Re Mi,” a fabulous “kitchen folk” EP that utilizes only kitchen implements and her lovely voice. Available to purchase and stream at the link.
  • “strength,” an EP by disconnect red, also a dear friend, is an incandescent set of a capella songs that plays with mode with a startling rawness. Steam “fragility” here.
  • The aforementioned Lana released her debut book, “Wet Sand in an Hourglass: a self portrait in words,” last year and I’ve been taking my time reading it. The book is a deliberate memoir, both intricate and exhilarating in its tone and narrative.

November Updates

I have been collaborating with poet and friend Sanjana Rajagopal on musically illustrating her fantastic, otherworldly poem series ‘Dream Palace.’ The first four demos of these pieces can be found here with links to the original poems.

I recently wrote on my NASA Academy and honors thesis project for Madame Mars, a transmedia production documenting the role of women in space science, which interviewed me in 2014 (and quoted my interview on HuffPost). You can read the article here, and subscribe to their fantastic media here.

My uncle Rajiv Mohabir, a talented poet and teacher, writes on the liminality of Indo-Caribbean experiences and discusses several authors and poets, including myself, and how we relate to this heritage via our work in this blog post for the North American Review.

I’m working on a series of poetry zines with several artists. The first topic of this series is ‘the void’; read my take here.

Finally, all of my books are on sale for the holidays! Check out details here.

August updates

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I’ve just given my final presentation at JPL and am wrapping up my internship in the next few days! I’m so grateful for all of the support and encouragement that helped me get to this point. I am proud of my work, and JPL is truly a special place to which I hope to return one day soon.

My books are now on Goodreads and I have an active author page! Reviews can now be left for each book, and I may begin updating the author page in the future.

Najia (with whom I performed at “THE THINGS WE CAN CONJURE”) and I are working on some music – check out this reduced electronic demo of “Talisman” and look forward to completed songs in the next few months. x

May Updates

The Things We Can Conjure went wonderfully! We had a nice turnout, made new friends, and had a beautiful time sharing our work. We also both completed National Poetry Month strong with 30 poems each! Don’t forget to check out Najia’s beautiful book “Wanderers, Witch-Talkers.”

Last week (4.30), I presented my senior thesis – the geology portion of the 2015 NASA Academy Mars mission design – for the EES department and had my composition final “performed” – you can find the track here. The piece utilizes voice and cello recordings of myself, as well as recordings of planes from last summer. Completing my time with both the EES Department and the Eastman composition department has been a delight and I am so grateful for the resources to which I’ve had access during my time at Rochester.

I finished executing my project ‘i can’t hear myself’ for my anthropology course this week. The reaction has been so involved and wonderful, and I look forward to continuing to discuss the work and the social issues behind my ideas with other musicians.

At the end of this month, I’ll be heading off to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a summer research program in surface processes of icy moons, which is a thrilling way to end my undergraduate career!

Stay tuned – I’m hoping to start some new things in the next handful of weeks x