Valerie's interest in astronomy started when she was a young child. She watched endless Star Trek episodes with her father and hoped to one day better understand how the universe works. During her undergraduate career at the University of Rochester, Valerie had the opportunity to teach a summer physics course for young women, and this is where her passion for science education and outreach blossomed.
Valerie went on to get her PhD in Astrophysical Sciences and Technology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her dissertation focused on the chemical composition and structure of plant-forming disks around nearby young stars.
Valerie spent much of her free time, during graduate school, educating the public about astronomy. She taught summer camps, visited senior living communities, and presented star shows at the Strasenburgh Planetarium. From 2014-2015, Valerie was president of the Rochester Academy of Sciences Astronomy Section, a large organization of amateur astronomers that love to share their passion for astronomy with the world. In 2014, Valerie was inducted into the American Astronomical Society's Astronomy Ambassadors program recognizing her extensive participation in astronomy outreach.
Upon completion of her degree, Valerie knew that she wanted to enter the museum field and focus on informal astronomy education for people of all ages. Past female colleagues and mentors inspired her to become a role model and mentor for other young women pursing the sciences. Valerie is now the Outreach Astronomer for the Dudley Observatory at miSci where she develops and teaches astronomy curriculums to the young and young-at-heart. Through student and family programs, lifelong-learning programs, public lectures, teacher professional development and the Rising Star Internship, she shares the wonders of the cosmos with everyone in the Capital Region.
When Valerie is not at the telescope or in the classroom, you can find her at home baking sweet treats, or at the local county fair watching the tractor pull or demolition derby.