TED Blog

Aomawa Shields is an astrobiologist who studies the potential for life on other planets. She also uses her training as an actor to teach middle school girls about the joys of astronomy. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED Aomawa Shields is an astrobiologist who studies the potential for life on other planets. She also uses her training as an actor to teach middle school girls about the joys of astronomy. Photo: Ryan Lash/TED

Aomawa Shields is a woman of “contradictions.” An astronomer and astrobiologist, she searches for exoplanets where life might exist by using computer models to calculate the kind of atmosphere they’d need to support it. And she’s also a classically trained actor, who — through her organization Rising Stargirls — teaches astronomy to middle school girls of color using theater, writing and visual art to spark their imaginations.

She talks to the TED Blog about how the threads of her life — scientist, actor, role model and educator — weave together into a unique whole.

“Astrobiology” is a new word to me. What does it mean?

Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe. It’s a huge…

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