Profiles of Astronomers: Stacie Mahuna

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Who are you and where are you from? My name is Stacie Mahuna. While I’m originally from Wisconsin, my hubs and I fled that snowy wasteland back in 2011 and I’ve been here in Seattle ever since!

  • How did you become interested in Astronomy?

Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always loved space. (I was “that kid” that knew the order of the planets before I knew the months of the year.) The first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova, was my hero. I wanted to be just like her! As I got older, I discovered Neil Degrasse Tyson, Annie Jump Cannon, and Stephen Hawking and was fascinated by the work they did. It felt like the more humanity discovered about the Universe, the bigger and more mysterious it got, and the more its puzzles drew me in. Now I’m hooked for good. J

  • If you’re an astronomer (grad/post-doc/faculty), what do you study?

I’m not currently part of the astronomy program – I just participate vicariously through others. Maybe that will change one day!

  • What’s the coolest thing (not literal) in the Universe?

The coolest thing in the Universe for me is the Noctis Labyrinthus, just west of Valles Marineris on Mars. It’s a section of criss-crossing fissures in Mars’ surface that hovers around -100 degrees Farenheit at the bottom (-70 C). There are two reasons why this is my favorite thing in the Universe. One, Noctis Labyrinthus is Latin for “Labyrinth of Night”, which is easily one of the creepiest/most epic names ever. Two, a deposit “of unknown origin” was recently discovered at the bottom of one of the canyons. What it is exactly and how it got there is unclear. I just think it’s amazing that something so mysterious can be found so close by on our next-door neighbor. How little we know about the space around us!

  • What’s the coolest thing outside of your field?

My field is health research, so I do a lot of population-based studies, specifically tobacco cessation and obesity research. There’s a lot of research projects going on outside of pop. health that sound incredibly interesting! I saw an article the other day that talked about robotic prosthetics and several studies that are focusing on amputees’ use of their new limbs. That’s way more futuristic than anything I currently do!

  • What is your favorite non-astronomy hobby?

I write a lot of fiction in my spare time. Currently, I’m trying to get a novel and a screenplay published. We’ll see how that goes. J

  • Is there anything else you’d like the public to know about you?

I’ve never had a tooth pulled before. It felt like an important piece of information to share.

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