Image - Aomawa Shields
Image - Aomawa Shields

Aomawa Shields: Life on Other Planets

Is anybody else out there? As a child, Aomawa Shields was always looking at the sky and dreaming of becoming an astronaut. Now an astronomer and astrobiologist at the top of her field, Dr. Shields studies the universe outside our Solar System, researching and uncovering the planets circling distant stars with just the right conditions that could support life.

In order to ultimately achieve her life-long dream Dr. Shields had to overcome discouragement from others, self-doubt, and uncertainty that she belonged. Her complex journey included a period where she left the field and pursued acting professionally.

Hear more as Dr. Shields reflects on her life as an astronomer, classically trained actor, and Black woman in STEM. Additionally, she is the founder and director of Rising Stargirls, a program dedicated to encouraging girls of all colors and backgrounds to learn, explore, and discover the universe using theater, writing and visual art.


In association with Wonderfest

This program is part of our Good Lit series, underwritten by the Bernard Osher Foundation.


Bernard Osher Foundation


Shields photo by Steven Meckler; Siler photo by Laura Kudritzki.

Image - Aomawa Shields

Aomawa Shields

Ph.D., Astronomer; Astrobiologist; Clare Boothe Luce Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Irvine; Author, Life on Other Planets: A Memoir of Finding My Place in the Universe

Image - Julia Flynn Siler

In Conversation with Julia Flynn Siler

Author; Journalist; California Book Award Juror; Twitter @jsilerauthor