Dr. Kristine Larsen is the Assistant Editor of JRAEO. Astronomy education and outreach have been the central focus of her decades-long career, beginning in 1981 when, as a college freshman at Central Connecticut State University, she began working as a planetarium lecturer and observatory assistant. While completing a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics at the University of Connecticut, she returned to her alma mater as a faculty member in 1989, where she currently holds the rank of Professor in the Physics and Earth Science Department and serves as Faculty Coordinator of the Copernican Observatory and Planetarium. She teaches courses in introductory astronomy, observational astronomy, and astrophysics, as well as courses for pre-service teachers and interdisciplinary courses for both the University Honors Program and First Year Experience Program.
Larsen’s scholarly work focuses on the intersections of science and society, especially science pedagogy and outreach, the history of women in science, misconceptions of science, and depictions of science in literature and film. Her publication record includes two books for popular audiences – Stephen Hawking: A Biography (which has been translated into several languages) and Cosmology 101 – numerous book chapters, and articles in a wide range of journals, including Astronomy Education Review, The Planetarian, Journal of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, The Antiquarian Astronomer, Mercury, American Journal of Physics, and Physical Review D.
Larsen is known to not only integrate a wide variety of pedagogies (including online and flipped class structures, writing across the curriculum strategies, and interdisciplinary team teaching) but also continues to push the envelope in terms of exploiting the science found in popular culture to excite students in both college classrooms and K-12 outreach. Her work in this area has been recognized through numerous articles in journals such as Tolkien Studies, Irish Journal of Horror Studies, and Communicating Astronomy to the Public Journal, among others.
An active amateur astronomer as well as astronomy professor, Larsen built her own 8 inch telescope (including the mirror) and is a long-time member of the Springfield Telescope Makers, as well as the program co-chair for the renowned annual Stellafane Convention. She has completed a number of Astronomical League observing programs, and contributes sunspot observations to the American Association of Variable Star Observers. She also serves as an assistant editor for the Astronomical Leagues’ Reflector. Larsen is known as a highly effective communicator with the general public, and has been the keynote speaker at many amateur astronomy events throughout New England as well as conducted numerous interviews with radio and television outlets from around the world.
In recognition of her decades of inspirational and innovative work in astronomy education and outreach, she has received a number of awards, including the Walter Scott Houston award of the North East Region of the Astronomical League, and was designated a “Great Professor of Connecticut” by the Hartford Courant. She currently serves as Second Vice President of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, Higher Education Director of the Connecticut Science Teacher Association, and is a member of a plethora of professional organizations, including the American Astronomical Society, Geological Society of America, and International Planetarium Society.