Maria Charisi (Μαρία Χαρίση)


I love talking about black holes. The interactions with the public help me keep a cosmic perspective, when I get lost in lines of code and statistics. I also see outreach as an opportunity to challenge the lab-coat, crazy-hair stereotype.

Public Lectures and Stargazing Nights (2011-present)
Columbia Astronomy Public Outreach

I am a regural volunteer for the biweekly events in the department. As a roof volunteer, I have facilitated stargazing from the roof of Pupin [photo]. As a lecture volunteer, I have made short presentations covering a variety of topics, held extended Q&A sessions, following the main lecture, and discussed short astronomy-related documentaries. I have also served as the lecture captain, in charge of coordinating the event. Here are the summaries of the events I coordinated:
The History and future of Black Holes (May 2016) by Dan D'Orazio [summary] [photo]
On the care and Feeding of Black Holes (Dec. 2015) by Aleksey Generozov [summary] [photo]
The Glorious Past of Our Monster Black Hole (Oct. 2015) by Shuo Zhang [summary]
Neutral Particle Power (Feb. 2014) by Jia Liu [summary]
I have also given two of the Friday night lectures:
Explosive Lighthouses: Gamma-ray Bursts from the distant universe (Oct. 2014) [poster] [summary] [photo]
Black Hole Duet: Hearing the universe for the first time* (Oct. 2016) [poster] [summary] [photo] [crowd]
*The lecture was featured in Barnard's eNews BWOG

1000 Girls, 1000 Futures (2015-2016)
New York Academy of Science, Global STEM Alliance

The program connects high school girls around the world with women STEM professionals. I participated in the pilot year and I was paired with Julia (Huiyuan) Chen from the Chinese Academy of Science, currently an undergrad at UPenn. For her project, we attempted to develop "the Break-App", an iphone application that helps you manage the time spent of your phone and forces you to take breaks (or break-up with your phone).

Saturday Night Lights and Street Science (2014 and 2016)
World Science Festival
The WSF is a week-long celebration of science with events throughtout NYC. I was a telescope volunteer for the Stargazing Party in Brooklyn Bridge Park. I also helped with the LIGO exhibit at the Science Street Fair in Washington Square.
[photo] [photo] [photo] [photo] [photo]

Goals For Girls (2015)
Intrepid Summer Science Camp
With fellow graduate students and the chair of the department, we hosted the middle school participants of the Science Camp for a day visit in the Astronomy department. The girls were very curious about black holes and we had a nice chat about our lives outside of science (personal life, hobbies, etc.) and our paths to Astronomy.

Girls' Science Day (2015 and 2016)
Women in Science @ Columbia Outreach Program
The biggest outreach event organized by WISC brings to campus middle school girls for a day-long program of hands-on activities. With a group of astronomy graduate students, we developped interactive experiments to demonstrate astronomical concepts. Some of the experiments included the scale of the universe, hot-air balloons, air-rockets, the expanding balluniverse.

Saturday Science Starters - S3 (2015)
Women in Science @ Columbia Outreach Program
As part of the astronomy team, I helped with astronomy-related demonstrations for middle school students. For this event, we built a comet with dry ice and talked about the solar system. We also explained why the sky looks blue and the sunset red, simulating the Earth's atmosphere with a tank of water and milk.

Methods of Science Research Honors (2014)
Tenafly High School, Tenafly, NJ
I was invited as the guest scientist to talk about my research in astronomy and discuss with the students "how to turn your hobby into your day job".
My lecture was on "Neutron Stars, Black Holes and Gamma-ray Bursts"

Explorations of Science (2013 and 2014)
Double Discovery Center, Columbia College
The program is addressed to low-income, first-generation college college-bound and minority students from Manhattan. The class "Exploration of Science", lead by Kerstin Perez brought the students in touch with real scientists from various disciplines. I was invited to run the Astronomy session, which included a short lecture, some hands-on activities and discussion about my career in astronomy.

●2014 Session: "Electromagnetic Spectrum", Optics experiments, and Career in astronomy Q&A
●2013 Session: "Gamma-ray Bursts", Solar observing, and Career in astronomy Q&A

Sidewalk Astronomy (2012-2016)
Columbia Astronomy Public Outreach
Sidewalk astronomy brings telescopes to various locations throughout the city for impromptu observing. This gives the benefit to do science outreach, when people are not seeking/expecting it. This way we approach a different crowd that we normally wouldn't get a chance. Over the past few years, I have participated in the following events:

● Stargazing at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York 2016 [photo]
●Lunar Eclipse observing event, Columbia Univ. campus, New York 2015 [photo] [photo]
●Stargazing nights, Harlem, New York 2015 [photo]
●Venus Transit observing event, Union Square, New York 2012 [photo] [NY Times]