NASA astrophysicist’s path started with the night sky in tiny Bee Branch, Arkansas.
As a girl, astrophysicist Amber Straughn fell in love with the night sky that twinkled above her family’s watermelon farm in tiny Bee Branch, Arkansas, and was determined to study astronomy.
“My decision to come to the University of Arkansas was one of the most important decisions I’ve ever made,” she said. “It really set me on my path to becoming an astrophysicist.”
She came to the U of A to study physics with the Honors College, and the opportunities here set her trajectory toward a career with NASA and the most advanced telescopes in the world.
As part of an undergraduate research team, Straughn applied for and received a NASA grant to run experiments in NASA’s zero-gravity test environment for her undergraduate Honors thesis. That experience opened the door to the possibility of a career with the space agency.
Today Straughn is an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and serves as the deputy project scientist for James Webb Space Telescope Science Communications. She is also the associate director of the Astrophysics Science Division. She has also worked with the Hubble Space Telescope in her research into star-forming galaxies and galaxy formation.