Paul Mortfield
Astronomer - Stanford SOLAR Center
Stanford University, California

What is my job: Education and Public Outreach (EPO) for the SOHO/MDI Spacecraft Mission studying the Sun. I also created and host the webcasts you are watching.

How did I get here: The short answer: I drove my car. It's the only way to get around in California. Actually, I received an email one day asking me if I'd like to be part of the EPO effort on this mission. I had to say yes. I've been involved in astronomy all my life. I started educating people about astronomy and about what they could see in the sky when I took my first telescope to class to show the other students the sun when I was 10 years old. Since then I've built my own telescopes, taken photographs of outer space and talked about astronomy on TV news.

What is the most exciting thing about my job: I get to do what I love (Astronomy) for a living. Actually the exciting thing is to share my passion for astronomy with people of all ages, and making a complex subject fun and interesting so that everyone can understand. It's also pretty challenging (and fun) trying to create intelligent educational content that teachers and students will use. Most of all, I get to work with other scientists involved in the research side of the mission, which allows me to keep current on their discoveries about the sun. The really cool part is knowing that students and teachers are using the educational toys that I help develop.

What my workday is like: EMAIL !! Lots of email and poster requests come my way and solar questions from students need to be answered. I also have to plan/write the next webcast show, or plan my talk at an upcoming conference. I make updates to the SOLAR Center webpage, and build all the webcast pages.

Why did I pick this as a career: I wasn't fast enough to play hockey professionally and the bands I played in, weren't going anywhere. I've been doing astronomy since the age of 7. I also love photography and have always had a darkroom at home. Bottom line, this is what I enjoy doing. I wake up in the morning wondering what great stuff I'll get to do, or think about some new project to create.

Projects I'm working on: These webcasts. This is a whole new way to bring science into the classroom. There are lots of challenges to developing something new and trying to figure out how best to make it work for the viewers, the students and the teachers.
Claim to Fame: My astrophotos (some below) have appeared in books, magazines and on TV. The thousands of other photos that never made it.
Favorite Bands/Music: AC/DC, Bach, Mozart, Doors, Led Zeppelin, Blues
Favorite Food: CHOCOLATE
Favorite movie: Lots. And the not so widely released video, "Colors of The Sun"
Favorite book: "Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy" .