Amy Mainzer

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Amy Mainzer

Amy Mainzer (January 2, 1974 –) is an American astronomer, specializing in astrophysical instrumentation and infrared astronomy. She is the Deputy Project Scientist for the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer and the Principal Investigator for the NEOWISE project to study minor planets and the Near Earth Object Surveyor space telescope mission.


  • I'd say that getting started on research early as an undergraduate makes a big difference. If, like me, you don't come from a family background in this area, there are so many exciting things to work on that I knew little about. Undergraduate research upended my preconceived notions of what work in space research is like. I had no idea about what jobs even existed. Working in industry can also be a tremendously valuable experience. Systems engineering work provides a great overview of how spacecraft are built and operated, and seeing the teamwork and cameraderie is inspiring. Teamwork is essential to making missions work; it's like being part of a band or a sports team in that regard. A successful space mission represents hundreds or even thousands of people working together for a common goal, so building teamwork skills is a good idea.
  • My family was always interested in nature, and that made me curious about it too – we liked to learn about birds and plants and rocks together. It was really fun! In every bird, plant, or rock, there’s a great story waiting to be learned – it’s like watching a really interesting movie or reading a great book. Now, as a professional scientist, it’s my job to learn things about nature. Every day is different from the next, and there’s always something wonderful to learn about the universe and the world around us.

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