The Hallau family in their proverbial "backyard," Yellowstone National Park (August 2012). Clockwise: Keri, husband Charlie, and children, Lian (age 5), Sylvie (age 3).
Keri Hallau believes that without Education and Public Outreach (EPO) teams engaged in space missions, much of the profound and inspiring science discovered on those missions would be lost to the public and to our next generation of scientists.
“While I believe we all benefit from scientists and engineers participating in EPO, they have other primary responsibilities that necessarily limit the time they can spend on EPO,” Hallau says. “The primary goal of EPO teams is to ensure that the discoveries made by the scientists and engineers are effectively communicated to broad audiences, thereby engaging students and the public in the process of science and the rewards of our scientific endeavors.”
Hallau grew up in Traverse City, Michigan, and she earned her B.S. in Geology from the University of Michigan. She went on to get an M.A.T. in Physical Science from Northern Arizona University and an M.S. in Land Resources and Environmental Sciences from Montana State University, where she is now an online science curriculum developer and outreach coordinator in the Department of Physics.
Hallau joined the MESSENGER EPO team in July 2004 and, as a member of that team, she maintains the EPO website and creates print and web materials for a broad range of projects. For example, she’s created Mosaic Postcards from Mercury, pages for the Mercury Surface Interactive, and features for the EPO site.
Hallau says that her favorite part of the job is learning the science of the mission from the science team directly. “I love seeing the scientific process as it unfolds and twists and turns in a very authentic way,” she says. “With new data come new questions and hopefully answers, which are then either verified as many people collaborate, sharing ideas and expertise, or fade away in favor of something better supported. I wish everyone could see this process and appreciate how many very bright people have devoted so much of their time to furthering our understanding of Mercury and planetary science in general.”
In addition to her work on MESSENGER, Hallau also works on EPO teams for New Horizons and the Van Allen Probes. “All of the missions are interesting in their own right,” Hallau says. “It has been very rewarding to work on MESSENGER since launch and into the orbital phase and I think I will have the same feeling when New Horizons makes it to Pluto and beyond, but during that long journey the EPO team has been a bit quieter. And since the Van Allen Probes just launched in August 2012, I am still learning the science and meeting the team members.”
Hallau lives in Bozeman, Montana, with her husband and two young daughters. She balances her work life with outdoor activities such as rafting, hiking, ice skating, alpine skiing, and cross country skiing, and quieter pursuits such as knitting and sewing.
By Lydia Zuraw