Feet on Earth, head in the stars


Toan Trinh

Toan Trinh

By Whitney Bauck

The thing that got Danielle Wood ’04, SM ’08, PhD ’12, interested in space was the joy of earthlings.

She’d never considered a career in space research, and in her mid-teens she was interested in what seemed to her “directly socially useful” work, like building hurricane-resistant buildings. But when a high school internship at NASA introduced her to the excitement that permeated the space community, she was hooked. 

Still, a career in space didn’t quite make sense to her when there were so many issues on Earth that felt pressing. This tension followed her into her undergrad years at MIT, when she studied aerospace engineering during the school year and volunteered at a school in Kenya in the summers.

“I started asking myself, ‘Can I actually make my version of working on space about helping Earth and addressing social issues?’” she says.

Related Content