an Explore Mars Event

May 16-18, 2023

The National Academy of Sciences Building

Washington D.C.

Summer Ash

National Radio Astronomy Observatory | STEAM Education Manager; Astrophysicist; Science Communicator

Having been both a rocket scientist and astrophysicist, Summer Ash is now harnessing her powers for science communication to bring the universe down to earth to help those who want to reach for the stars and to advocate for equity and inclusion across all STEM fields. 

As a self-professed space cadet, Summer grew up dragging friends and family out at all hours of the day or night to look up at the sky. She is currently the STEAM Education Manager for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) where she heads up education and outreach efforts to K-12 audiences including schools, after-school programs, special interest groups, and the general public. Summer also manages the visitor experience and guided tours at the Very Large Array (VLA), the world’s most scientifically productive ground-based telescope. She can be seen sharing her passion for radio astronomy as the host of NRAO’s Baseline video series. 

Summer holds a bachelors in mechanical engineering from Stanford University and a masters in space studies from the International Space University and worked as an aerospace engineer on the X-34 Program at Orbital Sciences Corporation (now Orbital ATK) before making the jump from low-earth orbit to intergalactic scales. Summer did graduate research at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge on the evolution of radio galaxies and the effect of active galactic nuclei (a.k.a. AGN or supermassive black holes) on galaxies and galaxy clusters. Consequently, she will work AGN into everyday conversation whenever possible. 

Before coming to NRAO, Summer did education and outreach work for Oxbridge, the World Science Festival, and Columbia University while also doing freelance science communication. Her written work has been published online in The Atlantic, Smithsonian, Scientific American, Slate, Nautilus Magazine,, and Now.Space. She has hosted web videos for, science videos for the Science Forward program at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, and was the "In-House Astrophysicist" for The Rachel Maddow Show 2009 - 2016. Summer currently moderates Virtual Astro Live for the Intrepid Air & Space Museum and is a consultant for the Science & Entertainment Exchange, an arm of the National Academies of Science.