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Womens History Month - Agnes Pasco Conaty
by Jaha Knight
As we continue our Women’s History Month celebration, we would like to highlight Senior Research Scientist and Science Lead at the NASA GLOBE Observer Program, Dr. Agnes Pasco Conaty, PhD.
Dr. Conaty, who holds a doctorate degree in environmental science, a master’s and bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Philippines, and a certificate in secondary teaching (Physics) from the American University, has a different day to day life than what most people would envision when they hear “research scientist.” Dr. Conaty is also a college mathematics professor at Marymount University, Montgomery College, Howard Community College, and Trinity Washington University.
As an Earth Science Research at Challenger Center for Space Science Education, she co-wrote an Earth Science system module, with scientific background, activities, and hands-on workshops for teachers, including beta-testing at DC public schools as part of the package.
Dr. Conaty has worked full time as an earth science researcher at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center looking at several decades of ocean color satellite data sets from the SeaWiFS Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) and sea-surface temperature from the Advanced Very High-Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) for their seasonal and inter-annual variabilities along the western Pacific Ocean and South Chine Sea areas. She has used MATLAB and IDL software’s, learned UNIX and C programming language, and presented scientific papers at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) conference.
Now what even inspired Dr.Conaty to earn her very impressive background?
“My father and eldest brother were civil engineers who inspired me to follow their footsteps. My mother was a home economics teacher and supervisor, and almost all my aunts and grandfather were all teachers, and I share their love for education, so it was not surprising that I ventured into both STEM and education,” Dr. Conaty said when asked what inspired her career path.
Dr.Conaty’s work and educational experience in the Philippines provided her a different outlook on what it is like being a woman working in the STEM field.
“During my college years in the Philippines, I was one of a handful of women in our civil engineering cohort who worked side by side with men peering through blueprints, wearing hard hats on site, and getting our hands dirty like everyone else,” Dr. Conaty reflected.
That hands on experience paid off as one of Dr.Conaty’s favorite projects was to be a part of a structural engineering team at DCCD Engineering Corporation in the Philippines, which was assigned to renovate the administration building of the University of the Philippines, her alma mater.
“I worked side by side with the Chancellor of the University, who happened to be my professor and supervisor who hired me right after graduation,” Dr.Conaty said.
“Another favorite experience of mine was designing plate and shell structures for a high-rise building in the Republic of Nauru,” Dr. Conaty expressed.
Dr. Conaty’s extensive and impressive background should be a motivation to all but especially to women who are interested in studying many different avenues in the STEM field. Her encouraging advice to any young women interested in the field is to,
“Follow your dreams and stay focused and rise up to the challenge and believe in yourself,”
When Dr, Conaty is not conducting research, presenting scientific papers, or teaching she is also an artist (painting, photographs, cartoons) exhibiting her art at established venues in the Greenbelt and Laurel areas. She is an editorial cartoonist, staff writer, and photographer for her local news publications.
We love having a diversified staff with many different talents and skills that make up our SSAI family! We invite you to read about our previous highlight, Dr. Marangelly Fuentes, PMP, and encourage you to check our page later on today for our next highlight, Desiray Wilson!