An interview with Hannah Lerman

Name: Hannah Lerman

Current Job: Research Associate

Scientific Discipline/Field: Instrument Science

Country: UK

Pick some letters (L,G,B,T,Q,+, etc.): B!

Twitter or other social media handle: http://instagram.com/ootobeagooner

What does your job involve?

Design, developing, and testing analytical instrumentation for future space missions; including astrophysics missions (e.g. Einstein Probe, THESEUS) and planetary missions (ExoMars, NASA Europa Lander, lunar lander). I help to ensure the instrument will be able to collect the data that is necessary to achieve the science goals of the mission. This includes designing the instrument so that it will perform optimally in the space environment, and given the engineering budgets (e.g. mass, volume, power, etc.). We model how the instrument is likely to perform during the mission, and then test a prototype version of it in analogous environments on Earth to verify its performance. We then collect data and analyse it when it comes back from the mission after it is launched.

How did you get to this job (education etc.)?

I completed a Masters in Physics and Astronomy (2014) and then a PhD in Space Science (2019) at the University of Leicester.

Do you feel being LGBT has affected your career decisions?

No, I have been very passionate about space for many years and wanted to pursue the career. I did not want to let anyone stop me due to my sexuality.

Have you had any reactions from colleagues about being LGBT, either good or bad?

Thankfully, I have had good reactions from my colleagues – they are very supportive and have encouraged me to be proud, stand up for myself, and try to encourage other LGBT+ students in the department to feel secure and proud in themselves. The department has regularly celebrated diversity and equality and I feel very comfortable there.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to continue developing my skills as an instrument scientist, working on a number of upcoming space missions. I also want to help promote LGBT+ in STEM and try to encourage LGBT students to go into the field and strive for their goals!

Anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you! Happy to add anything and talk further!

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