Carol Christian, American (1950 - )

Carol Christian (born December 28, 1950) is an American astronomer, educator, and Information Technologist. Her astronomical work is focussed on stellar populations. She has worked extensively in studying the use of emerging technologies for science education.


Carol Ann Christian was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. She experienced her childhood in that city, characterized by dark skies and quiet summer nights. She participated in the usual activities of girls in the 1950s: piano lessons, ballet and horseback riding, an activity she still loves. When she was very young she had a dog named Koko followed by other canine companions until the present day. Ever since her youth, Christian has been an animal lover with special affinity for dogs and horses. She is also a strong advocate for animal rights.

Christian received a PhD in Physics and Astronomy at Boston University. She has been a staff scientist involved at instrument, software and archive development at several observatories including Kitt Peak National Observatory, Canada France Hawaii Telescope, and the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer mission at UC Berkeley. At the STScI she served as the Head of the Office of Public Outreach from 1995-2001 and also managed a division devoted to innovation and emerging technology use. She serves on Board of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, was a councilor for the American Astronomical Society, is a member of the NASA Earth Science archive users group, and is on Rochester’s Center for Imaging Science Board of Directors.

Christian serves as the Education Director for the National Virtual Observatory Project. In that role, she fosters collaboration across a variety of education projects making use of the growing astronomical archives available to researchers and the public. She also is the Deputy of the Community Missions Office, a unit that provides technical support from Hubble to other astronomical observatories.

For three years until October 2006, she was on partial detail as a Science and Technology Policy Advisor at the Department of State. At State, she examined methods for deploying simple interfaces to satellite imagery and geographic information (map systems that depict information such as roads, terrain, vegetation, population density, temperature, soil content, etc.) for diplomatic and foreign policy. Her other interest is in emerging information technologies for research and education.

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