AAVSO Volunteer Ambassador Program

Ambassador program vision 

Our Ambassadors created a united vision for themselves: to be involved, love what you do, and showcase AAVSO.

Ambassador program goal 

To get diverse people interested and capable in beginning variable star astronomy with AAVSO. This helps the AAVSO achieve its mission to: enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.​

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View this video by our ambassador superstars on their niches, their contributions, and their why 

 

AAVSO Ambassador activities 

Primarily: outreach and educate through:

  • conducting astronomy outreach to schools, clubs, and communities,
  • creating astronomy education videos for online distribution
  • participating in or hosting online or in-person astronomy events, such as star parties, sidewalk astronomy, or webinars; and/or
  • presenting on variable stars and representing the AAVSO at conferences.
  • Maintaining an astro-blog or other online presence, and/or engaging with AAVSO's social media content

Activities can also include adding value to the AAVSO databases through:

  • observing and submitting data
  • analyzing AAVSO data
  • and/or mentoring new observers

Program Communication:

  • Group ambassador Zoom meetings are held nearly every month. For those who cannot attend, the meetings are recorded, and ambassadors can touch base with the program manager separately
  • Discuss your activities and their outcomes
  • Opportunities learn with and from each other and collaborate on projects

 

Qualifications and Expectations: who are AAVSO Ambassadors? 

AAVSO Ambassadors are a mix of students either working towards a degree in an astronomy-related field or actively learning about astronomy, or a young professional engaged in astronomy.

Each volunteer Ambassador is expected to:

  • participate in the "Ambassador Activities" outlined above throughout the year
  • effectively communicate why they are passionate about astronomy and the benefits of being involved with AAVSO, with the outcome that their audience members become knowledgeable and excited about AAVSO, and engage in AAVSO science
  • be self-directed, and take initiative with their own outreach and education projects 
  • network and collaborate with others, both within and outside the AAVSO community
  • commit to help build a diverse community of citizen scientists
  • be knowledgeable about astronomy, and passionate about science education
  • ensure their work exemplifies AAVSO's mission and values, and is completed as expected
  • read and agree to abide by AAVSO Policies

 

Perks of volunteering as an Ambassador 

  • Volunteering as an ambassador can be done entirely remotely
  • Our Ambassadors are a community of individuals who can “geek out” about astronomy together
  • Ambassadors further their knowledge and develop valuable presentation and other career skills through educating
  • Activities can be completed at a fairly self-directed pace, as long as deadlines are met
  • Additional benefits

 

YOU can be part of our teamjoin us! 

If you would like to become an Ambassador, please either fill out the ambassador application in Adobe, or type the requested information into an email.

Please email your application or application responses to Lindsay Ward at Lward@aavso.org, or reach out for more information. 


Meet our volunteer Ambassadors 

  Picture of a young man in a hat and jacket looking to the sky with arms crossed. Stonework, mountains, and trees are behind him.

 

 

 

Nasir Rizwan--Islamabad, Pakistan: I'm an amateur writer, an avid hiker, & SUPARCO Space Ambassador of Pakistan. As a kid, I was always advised to think big, so I started learning astronomy; now I cannot think under a light year. My journey started by educating orphan children about astronomy & the wonders of space. Looking at the vastness of the cosmos gives me the strength to dream big and contribute back to the community. As an AAVSO ambassador, I look forward to spreading the light of optimism and curiosity for learning among students of all ages, empowering them to work with global scientists toward sustainable exploration of space. Moreover, variable stars and radio astronomy fascinate me.
  A smiling man with short-cropped hair and mustache wearing a shirt that says, WE DEFY foundation. Geovanni Cano--IIlinois, United States: I’m a retired Purple Heart Recipient Marine. The study of space and Astronomy have had a huge impact in my transition. I will welcome the opportunity to be able to continue to learn and advocate Variable Stars. I’m very passionate about talking about Astronomy. I believe my passion can help not only the community, but Veterans find passion through space exploration.
Ana Veronica Parra--California, United States: I am a Translational Research Scientist at an oncology company in San Diego, and a part-time community college student pursuing a higher education in Astrophysics. I also spend time attending social/environmental justice movements, art/music camping festivals, and astronomy events. At home, I enjoy cooking/baking vegan food, playing board games with my family and friends, and researching exoplanets. I am currently learning how to compost, be a crew member of a sailboat, and use my personal telescope. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A young woman in a tie-dyed hat and shirt looking through a telescope with her arm on it, standing on pavement.

Lauren Herrington--Texas, United States: The first telescope I got my hands on was a junk refractor (Toys-R-Us brand!), but that didn't stop me from enjoying the views of stars. Fast forward 6 years: I'm again enjoying those views, this time through the lens of the AAVSO. I spend most clear nights shooting stellar spectra through my dobs using the drift scanning method. As of summer 2020, I enjoy making visual variable star estimates; it keeps me in touch with my visual observing roots while contributing to science. Teaching is my passion--I'm happy to lend a hand to those starting out, and I run tiedyeastronomer.com. Other interests include meteorology and budget astrophotography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gabriel Neagu--Romania: I've been an astronomer for about 4 years, doing photometry, light curve analysis for asteroids and variable stars. I have over 3 years of experience in variable star analysis, but only in the last 6 months have I started discovering some, having done much research at the beginning. In 2020, I discovered over 50 variable stars (49 of them are named using my code, NGCA-V%). I volunteer at an observatory and engage in public outreach, and enjoy teaching and empowering others.

 

 

Picture of a smiling young woman in a jacket and knit hat, on the sand

Erika Dunning--Oregon, United States: I cannot recall a time I did not want to work in astronomy research, and I feel so lucky to now be able to start researching for myself. I am currently working on an educational program to use photoelectric photometry to do live detections of an exoplanet transit and hope to be able to start running transit star parties sometime in late 2021. I still have a lot to learn, but I feel so lucky to work with AAVSO and to learn from all of the lovely people in the association. I hope to get a PhD in planetary science or astrophysics and then to work as a professor teaching astronomy and physics to the next generation of star watchers. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skylar Larsen--California, United States: My astro journey started with the Boyce Astro organization, where I published papers with the Journal of Double Star Observations and the Society for Astronomical Sciences. I since mentored students at the organization, who later published papers themselves. I am an undergrad at MIT studying planetary science and astronomy. I am interested in astrophotography, double stars, astrochemistry, astrobiology, and other aspects of astronomy. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leonardo Becegato--Sao Paulo, Brazil: I am currently a graduate student in astronomy at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, but if you asked me three years ago if I planned to study astronomy, the answer would probably be an emphatic no. I never imagined that I would become an astronomer, not even in my most creative dreams as a child did I think that I would be observing stars rising and dying millions of light-years away from Earth through a telescope. As a child who grew up in a small city in Brazil, it was not part of my reality to study galaxies, black holes, dark energy, or the big bang itself. I still have problems explaining what I do to my family. But today I am here; I am an astronomy student at one of the most important universities in Latin America, and this is one of my greatest achievements. And since then, I have had a particular mission to bring astronomy to the reality of as many people as possible. So I got to AAVSO… Enable anyone, anywhere, to participate in scientific discovery through variable star astronomy.

Young man smiling, wearing sunglasses, and holding a camera in a field

Christopher Colvin--Minnesota, United States: I have been into astronomy since I was 12, purchasing my first telescope at 18. Through astronomical data collection projects, I have contributed over 10,000 data points to scientific research. I have been an AAVSO member since 2016, and contribute observations via AAVSOnet telescopes while away from home, but use my own equipment and charts when I am back. Volunteering, I have opportunities to tie AAVSO with NASA science and missions. I am a degreed meteorologist and environmental scientist, but by night, an amateur astronomer and citizen scientist. I am extremely passionate about the work AAVSO does and believe that as a young(ish) member, I can play a role in securing the future of AAVSO and variable star astronomy for amateurs around the world. 

 

Man standing with arms crossed in front of an large astrophotograph of a galaxy

 

 

Pradip Karmakar--West Bengal, India: At present, I am a teacher of Mathematics in a XII-std. institution. I completed my research work from Calcutta University, Kolkata, India, in the Department of Applied Mathematics. My research topic was Dwarf Galaxy formation and its properties. Our four papers have been published in the International Journal and one is communicated. I received my Ph.D. degree in March, 2017. A couple years prior, I attended a seminar, held in our University. There, I listened to a lecture on variable stars. After listening, I became greatly interested in variable stars, started my journey in this field, and communicated with Horace A. Smith (Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University) after reading his several papers in this field. He helped me to become a member of AAVSO in 2018. I am glad to say that one paper with him was published in JAAVSO in 2019 on V1 in M12 about period change analysis. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelcey Davis--California, United States: I am an astronomy undergraduate student at San Diego State University in my final year, with double minors in mathematics and creative writing. My astronomical interests are in radio astronomy. Specifically, I work with data from the Murchison Widefield Array. We look for an important cosmological signal from the early universe. My passion for astronomy started at community college when I got involved with Boyce Astro, an amateur astronomy organization. I work as a mentor for their students who study double star systems. I have a strong drive towards outreach in science, and want to bring astronomy education and opportunities to community college students.

 

Selfie of a smiling young man Aakaash Narayan--Telangana, India: I have passion and dedication for astronomy and astrophysics--I have worked in the field for over 10 years, and am pursuing my PhD in Stellar Astrophysics and Astronomy. I am also a member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) in translation group for the Hindi language. I work for an astronomy outreach program for students who are in financial need. I don't have a telescope, but am working towards incorporating them into students' astronomy studies. At night, I gather people to explain constellations. I also gather stars' information; among them is alpha square CVn's.

 

 

 

 

 

Melanie Crowson--Florida, United States: Melanie recently received her Master's degree in astronomy
from American Public University. She began her journey into science as a curious-minded child who reached for every book on space she could find, culminating in the telescope she built with her father in high school. She has been a planetarium operator and has led astronomy outreach events for her community. She also served as Vice Chair on the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space USA national board and has worked on RR Lyrae variable star research and supernova hunting
projects.

 

Devanshu Jha--Karnataka, India: I am very passionate about science related to space and radio technology. I am a member of citizen science projects, including NASA and ESA projects, and IASC and SOHO project groups. I discovered 16 main-belt asteroids, 2 of which received provisional status. In college, I enjoyed astro club activities.

 

Michael Lewis--Virginia, United States: I am a college student at Richard Bland College of William & Mary, majoring in science. I am Assistant Regional Division Chief of Region One Sciences (SFI.org), where I work toward getting members in Region One states (Kentucky, Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia) more familiar with Astronomy and light pollution. As an ambassador, one of my aims is to include my peers in building an astronomy learning community. 

Smiling teenaged boy wearing a suit and tie

Teja Begari--Telangana, India: I got my interest in Astronomy in my grade 3, and my quest for the Cosmos started. I started with citizen science projects, and then I was preparing for the International exam and the International Astronomy and astrophysics competition, and I won the silver honour. The India Book of records recognized me as a Junior Astronomer and I was awarded the Global kids achievers award for the category of Astronomy in 2021. I was invited as a guest speaker at All India Radio to speak about My journey in Astronomy. I received the Talents Confluence Award (2022) from Nallor Vattam, receiving from Padmashri Dr. Mylswamy Annadurai, retired scientist ISRO. Being a part of AAVSO is such an honour and I feel delighted to be amongst the people with same interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smiling young woman standing in a field next to a telescope Molly Wakeling--California, United States: I am currently a PhD student in physics at UC Berkeley, with a specific interest in nuclear astrophysics. I got my first telescope in 2015, and after seeing how incredible Saturn was in it, quickly figured out how to do astrophotography so that I could share its beauty with others!  From there I dove pretty deep into astrophotography, which has been an ever-evolving adventure of new equipment, software, and techniques. I share those images, and do as much public outreach as I can!  I am also a Girl Scout leader for middle school- and high school-age girls, and have been a Girl Scout for over 20 years.