Dr. Laura Peticolas is Associate Director of EdEon STEM Learning at Sonoma State University, where she works to engage teachers, high school students and college freshmen in earth and astronomy participatory experiences using coding, hardware, and experimental design. Dr. Peticolas received her B.A. in mathematics and physics at the University of Oregon Honors College and her Ph.D. in physics studying the aurora at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. She spent 3 years as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California’s Space Sciences Laboratory continuing her study of Earth’s aurora using NASA’s Fast Auroral SnapshoT satellite data and computational models. During this time, she expanded her research to include developing computer models of the Martian aurora. She continued these computational research efforts while transitioning to the profession of education and outreach in 2008. In 2010, she became a Senior Fellow at the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of Multiverse, the Space Sciences Laboratory’s education group. This move completed her transition from science research to science education as a focus. In 2017, she moved to Sonoma State University in order to continue her work with high school science teachers and undergraduate students historically underserved in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
Dr. Peticolas has over 15 years of experience in the education and outreach profession. She has led, co-led and is currently co-leading NSF-, NASA- and Department of Education-funded national science education programs. With large collaborative teams, she continues to create STEM activities and curriculum; and provide professional development to educators on topics in physics, computer science, engineering, earth science, and space science. Dr. Peticolas led the effort to crowd-source high quality photographs across the path of totality during the 2017 total eclipse of the Sun in the United States, a project called the “Eclipse Megamovie.” Today, she is a Co-Investigator on two large grants led by Professory Cominsky, Director of EdEon: NASA’s Neurodiversity Network and Department of Education’s Student-Driven STEM and Computer Science Curriculum for Rural Students. Dr. Peticolas continues to mentor undergraduates, primarily those who are first generation students, in NASA research efforts including a CubeSat project led by the University of New Hampshire.