Jump to content

Shaigh Sisk: Keeping the Wheels Turning in Projects and Pottery


Recommended Posts

  • Publishers
Shaigh Sisk, a woman with curly brown hair pulled back in a braid, smiles joyfully at the camera while holding a large blue and yellow crab in her right hand. She wears a green hat and navy tee, and is kneeling and holding the crab. Other people in yellow and white shirts stand behind her.
Shaigh Sisk, planner and scheduler for the Optical to Orion project in the Laser-Enhanced Mission Navigation and Operational Services (LEMNOS) office, enjoys traveling near water when she isn’t at work.
Credits: Courtesy of Shaigh Sisk

Name: Shaigh Sisk

Title: Project Support Specialist

Organization: Exploration and Space Communications Projects (ESC), Code 450

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?

I provide administrative support to division management and scientists on multiple tasks and projects. I also facilitate and streamline processes for official government travel and government purchases using a government credit card.

What is your educational background? How did you come to Goddard?

In 2017, I earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland University College in environmental management. My dream job through college was to work for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, where I started working in 2017 supporting their education department. In 2019, after a friend who worked at Goddard said how much she loved working here, I came to Goddard into my current position because of greater opportunities.

What is the most interesting work you have done at Goddard?

I started shortly before the COVID shutdown and associated restrictions. I had to navigate the COVID policies in terms of government travel and purchasing, which have changed over the last two years. One benefit is that sorting out these new processes and restrictions have allowed me to work with a great number of people at Goddard.

Shaigh Sisk, a woman with curly brown hair pulled back in a braid, leans to her right to stare intently at a container filled with water and holding a small yellow seahorse. Shaigh wears a green hat and navy tee, and other people are visible sitting behind her. The container with the seahorse takes up most of the image, with the seahorse's delicate spines and curved yellow back fin clearly visible.
Project support specialist Shaigh Sisk provides administrative support to several divisions and tasks at Goddard, helping with things like travel and project management. Her six-word memoir, she says, is “Dive in, the water is great!”
Credits: Courtesy of Shaigh Sisk

Who are your mentors?

Until recently, I directly supported Stephanie Getty, the director of our division. Her position keeps evolving so I have to keep up with her. She is brilliant! She supports so many amazing scientific ventures and is a phenomenal leader. She truly cares about the people in the workforce as individuals.

I was five months pregnant with my first child in March 2020 as we went into lockdown. Stephanie is a great role model, as she is a working mom of two in a leadership position. She is always very understanding about work-life balance and is an inspiration, especially on really hard days, to do your best and keep going forward. She has recommended me for opportunities to consult with other individuals in the directorate’s office to streamline policies and processes relating to travel.

Also, Juri Schauermann, the assistant director, has encouraged me and provided opportunities to work on tasks that continuously improve my skills. Juri creates a work environment that is fun and efficient. She is an amazing female role model balancing a successful career and a family of six. I feel grateful to have her as a supportive mentor but also as a friend.

What do you like most about working at Goddard?

It would be my group of people. Our front office group is very supportive and tight knit. I feel fortunate to work with people who look out for each other, and they are truly my work family The first thing we do Monday morning is catch up with each other as a group to go over what our week looks like and form a game plan. We ask about each other’s weekends, vacations, and children. Aside from everyone being amazing humans, we are all spectacular at what we do and keep the division running super smooth. The culture of Goddard is just unmatched.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

Over the next few years, I want to explore and develop skills in project management. In five years, I want to have gained experience in leading projects and tasks that I am excited about and continue to work with people at Goddard within different disciplines. What I love about my current position is that after only three years, I have been exposed to so many avenues.

Shaigh Sisk, a woman with curly brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, sits at a pottery studio workbench sculpting a ceramic mug, while the sun shines brightly in through the studio door and casts rays across the image. Shaigh wears a dark gray tee and small hoop earrings. The mug in her hands is gray clay, and blocks and rolls of the same clay sit on the bench near her, along with sculpting tools and sponges. Racks with drying pottery in various shades of beige are visible behind her.
Project support specialist Shaigh Sisk creates pottery when she’s not at work. “I love the opportunity that pottery provides to mesh creativity and science,” she said.
Credits: Courtesy of Shaigh Sisk

What are your hobbies?

In my spare time I love spending time at a local pottery studio near my house and creating new forms on the pottery wheel. I hope to one day have my own little pottery studio at my house where I can have a place to be creative and continue to practice a craft I started doing in high school. I love the opportunity that pottery provides to mesh creativity and science. 

After you create your form, it all comes down to chemistry. One of the most interesting examples of chemistry in pottery that I’ve experienced is Raku firing. This is an ancient Japanese ceramics technique that uses a mixture of high heat, combustibles, and starvation of oxygen to create unique and random colors within the glaze depending on how the different elements react.

Where is your favorite place in the world and why?

Anywhere near water. I find water very tranquil and relaxing, and I love how my senses come alive when I’m near it. I’m fascinated with the different ecosystems that exist within and around water. A trip to the state of Washington to see killer and humpback whales swim freely in their natural habitat was an unexplainable experience for me. My travel destinations are always chosen around what aquatic creatures I can interact with. My dream place to visit would be the Galapagos Islands.

What is your “six-word memoir”? A six-word memoir describes something in just six words.

Dive in, the water is great!

Editor’s Note: At the time of this interview, Shaigh worked as a lead project support specialist in the Solar System Exploration Division, and her answers reflect her work at that time. As of February 2023, she now works as the planner and scheduler for the Optical to Orion project in the Laser-Enhanced Mission Navigation and Operational Services (LEMNOS) office, while still supporting the SSED office group.

A banner graphic with a group of people smiling and the text "Conversations with Goddard" on the right. The people represent many genders, ethnicities, and ages, and all pose in front of a soft blue background image of space and stars.

Conversations With Goddard is a collection of Q&A profiles highlighting the breadth and depth of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s talented and diverse workforce. The Conversations have been published twice a month on average since May 2011. Read past editions on Goddard’s “Our People” webpage.

By Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By NASA
      4 min read
      NASA Selects 11 Space Biology Research Projects to Inform Biological Research During Future Lunar Exploration Missions
      NASA announces the award of eleven grants or cooperative agreements for exciting new Space Biology research that will advance NASA’s understanding of how exposure to lunar dust/regolith impact both plant and animal systems.
      As human exploration prepares to go beyond Earth Orbit, Space Biology is advancing its research priorities towards work that will enable organisms to Thrive In DEep Space (TIDES). The ultimate goal of the TIDES initiative is to enable long-duration space missions and improve life on Earth through innovative research. Space Biology supported research will enable the study of the effects of environmental stressors in spaceflight on model organisms, that will both inform future fundamental research, as well as provide valuable information that will better enable human exploration of deep space.
      Proposals for these eleven projects were submitted in response to ROSES-2022 Program Element E.9 “Space Biology Research Studies” (NNH22ZDA001N-SBR). This funding opportunity solicited ground studies using plant or animal models (or their associated microbes) to characterize the responses of these organisms to lunar regolith simulant similar to that found at NASA candidate landing sites for future lunar exploration missions. This funding opportunity represents a collaboration between the Space Biology Program and NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division within the Exploration Architecture, Integration, and Science (EAIS) Directorate at the NASA Johnson Space Center, who will be supplying the lunar regolith simulant required for these studies.
      Selected studies include (but are not limited to) efforts to 1) test the ability of lunar regolith to act as a growth substrate for crop-producing plants including grains, tomatoes and potatoes, 2) understand how growth in lunar regolith influences plant and microbial interactions, and how in turn, these interactions affect plant development and health, 3) identify and test bioremediation methods/techniques to enhance the ability of regolith to act as a growth substrate, and 4) understand how lunar dust exposure impacts host/microbial interactions in human-analogous model systems under simulated microgravity conditions.
      Eleven investigators will conduct these Space Biology investigations from ten institutions in nine states. Eight of these awards are to investigators new to the Space Biology Program. When fully implemented, approximately $2.3 million will be awarded in fiscal years 2024-2027.
      Plant Research Investigations
      Simon Gilroy, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin, Madison
      Tailoring Lunar Regolith to Plant Nutrition
      Aymeric Goyer, Ph.D.  Oregon State University
      Growth, physiology and nutrition dynamics of potato plants grown on lunar regolith
      simulant medium
      Christopher Mason, Ph.D. Weill Medical College of Cornell University
      Leveraging the microbes of Earth’s extreme environments for sustainable plant growth
      in lunar regolith
      Thomas Juenger, Ph.D. University of Texas, Austin
      Engineering plant-microbial interactions for improved plant growth on simulated lunar regolith
      Plant Early Career Research Investigations
      Miranda Haus, Ph.D. Michigan State University
      The sources and extent of root stunting during growth in lunar highland regolith and its impact on legume symbioses
      Joseph Lynch, Ph.D. West Virginia University
      The metabolomic impact of lunar regolith-based substrate on tomatoes
      Jared Broddrick, Ph.D. NASA Ames Research Center
      Phycoremediation of lunar regolith towards in situ agriculture
      Shuyang Zhen, Ph.D. Texas A&M AgriLife Research
      Investigating the impact of foliar and root-zone exposure to lunar regolith simulant on lettuce growth and stress physiology in a hydroponic system
      Plant Small Scale Research Investigations
      Kathryn Fixen, Ph.D. University of Minnesota
      The impact of lunar regolith on nitrogen fixation in a plant growth promoting rhizobacterium
      Animal Research Investigations
      Cheryl Nickerson, Arizona State University
      Effects of Lunar Dust Simulant on Human 3-D Biomimetic Intestinal Models, Enteric Microorganisms, and Infectious Disease Risks
      Afshin Beheshti, Ph.D. NASA Ames Research CenterSpaceflight and Regolith Induced Mitochondrial Stress Mitigated by miRNA-based Countermeasures

      Last Updated Nov 21, 2023 Related Terms
      Biological & Physical Sciences Space Biology View the full article
    • By NASA
      8 Min Read Goddard Earth Science Projects Featured at the American Geophysical Union
      Welcome to the 2022 AGU

      It felt like the first day at a new school – scrambling out of the car in the carpool lane, backpacks swinging over our shoulders, then facing the large entryway of the new and daunting building. For a week in December, nearly 23,000 people roam the large Chicago convention center where the 2022 American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting conference was held.
      I was one of those several thousand people. As a young professional who only recently graduated from college, this was my first conference, and an impressive one to start out on at that. I’ve always yearned for knowledge and had a desire to learn. AGU is one of the places where new information is never in short supply.

      That’s me, Erica, in the middle. And those other excited people are my work friends (also NASA communications folks). AGU is a hub for Earth science research presentations. Scientists from ranges of backgrounds gather at the conference annually to share, discuss, and disseminate information on a wide variety of topics all relating back to one thing we all have in common – Earth. Topics span from global environmental change and natural hazards to atmospheric sciences and ocean sciences, and much more.
      To research those topics, scientists need data. So much of that data about Earth comes from satellites that are way up in space, looking back at the planet where they were made. And that’s where my job comes in.
      I’m the staff writer for the Earth Science Projects Division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. I have the unique privilege of working with the people who design and build many of those spacecraft and instruments that are up in space, delivering crucial data. Eventually, those data get pulled into intense geoscience research, and for many of those researchers, the AGU conference is the pinnacle of platforms.

      Dr. Tom Neumann, Deputy Director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center speaks at the AGU 2022
      After it was confirmed that I was going, both excitement and nerves fell into place. Colleagues who had attended the conference before me offered their thoughts and recommendations, and almost every person acknowledged a key feature to the conference: its size. “It’s huge!” “It’s massive!” “There’s so much happening, and you’ll want to see it all – you won’t know where to start!”
      I always nodded and accepted their statements, but truly all I could think was that they must be exaggerating. How big could this conference really be?
      As I walked through the doors into the convention center, all notions of exaggeration fell away immediately. The hall was indeed massive and even though the conference had scarcely begun, there were crowds of people navigating the corridors just like I was. For as large as the hall was, it was filled to the brim with a feeling of excitement and a buzz of knowledge – so much so it was almost palpable.
      Walking though the poster hall, I was blown away by how many presentations shared the NASA symbol on their poster boards, and it brought me a sense of both humility and joy knowing that the work that I do is somehow connected to these scientists around me. Not only were there NASA scientists in attendance, but also student scientists who utilize Goddard data for their research.
      Dr. Doug Morton, chief of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Doug Morton, chief of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
      The Landsat series
      Landsat 9, the latest of the series, was developed at Goddard and launched in September 2021. With over 50 years of Landsat data and imagery available, the long timeline becomes a beneficial asset to many types of research. Nicole Abib, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oregon, used the expanse of Landsat data for her research on the properties of ice mélange – dense packs of icebergs and sea ice – in Greenland’s fjords. With the time series of Landsat data, Abib relayed that she was able to visualize the ice mélange in the fjords, an important step in understanding how its properties vary around the ice sheet, and how this has or has not changed over time.
      Landsat data made frequent appearances in the rows of poster presentations in the cavernous hall. One poster easily caught the eyes of curious spectators, as well as my own, with the beautiful background imagery of snow. Chase Mueller, remote sensing data scientist and contractor to the U.S. Geological Survey, explained to onlookers about how Landsat data is an essential tool in learning about snowmelt runoff and its effects. The large timeline of data is valuable in creating models to help with the prediction of the phenomena.
      “This work aims to improve access to snow runoff modeling through the utilization of a commercial cloud compute environment while leveraging the higher resolution of Landsat data,” Mueller said. “It will help users better characterize the role of high mountain snowpacks on regional water supplies.”
      Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2
      Across the convention center (an actual 10-minute walk away yet all in the same building, just another reminder of how huge this conference is), another mission with an impressive timeline shares how its data has been used in variation for different topics of research. The four-plus years of elevation data from the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite-2 (ICESat-2) mission have provided an extensive amount of data – the latitude, longitude, and height for every laser photon sent down to Earth and received back by the satellite.
      Nicole Abib, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Oregon. “The real power of this data is the aggregation of data over space and time,” said Tom Neumann, project scientist for ICESat-2 at Goddard, said during a town hall on the mission.
      With the limitations of time being the only reason why the town hall didn’t last hours to discuss all the research using ICESat-2 data, a few examples were presented to the group. The data helped reveal results on a range of topics, including sea ice thickness and a new record low for Antarctic Sea ice extent in February 2022. Spanning farther than just ice, ICESat-2 data also helped scientists understand canopy heights of the forests of Texas and Alabama, which are used to assess forest degradation and habitat suitability.
      As ICESat-2 continues orbiting and collecting data, the masses of data points will become even more accessible as it is transferred into the cloud.
      “With all the ICESat-2 data as well as many other satellite data now at your fingertips, we are approaching a new era of doing science,” said Thorsten Markus, cryosphere program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC.
      As I absorbed as much information as possible walking around the convention center, I couldn’t help but to think about where this data originated, and what the future will look like as new and different satellites continue to collect more data. Missions that are just in the beginning stages – either being meticulously constructed by engineering teams or are even just a thought in the minds of scientists and engineers – will one day have presentations like these, and viewers like me ready to learn.
      Some researchers and data users are looking to future orbiting observatories for even more precise measurements, such as the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, and ocean Ecosystem (PACE) mission, scheduled to launch in January 2024.
      Noah Sienkiewicz, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
      Shana Mattoo, a senior programmer at NASA Goddard, shared how she and her colleagues used a combination of Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite and Tropospheric Monitoring Instrument data to help prepare an algorithm for PACE’s Ocean Color Instrument, which will singlehandedly measure the full expanse of light wavelengths that that previously required a combination of datasets. Similarly, Noah Sienkiewicz, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, explained to the audience how he used previous versions of the Hyper-Angular Rainbow Polarimeter (HARP) to help calibrate another PACE instrument, the new HARP2.
      Shana Mattoo, senior programmer at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Atmosphere Observing System
      A bit further into the future is the Atmosphere Observing System (AOS), part of the Earth System Observatory, a set of satellites all aiming to view Earth from different perspectives. AOS, though still early in its planning stages, will look to measure the aerosols, clouds, atmospheric convection, and precipitation in Earth’s atmosphere. The measurements will ultimately help the understanding of weather and climate.
      I only was able to glimpse what this conference had to offer, and though I tried to take in as much of it as possible, there is so much more out there for me to learn, and I am eager to do so. Though the conference itself was expansive, there’s a whole world out there to cover, and each of these presentations, posters, or sessions highlighted details of our home planet and the universe beyond. The understanding of the planet grows as more research is completed, and the information provided by Goddard Earth science projects is essential to that growth.
      Erica McNamee
      Science Writer, Earth Science Projects Division
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      Fungi in space have been a plot point in Star Trek: Discovery, but they are also a very real problem for astronauts and space stations. United Nations co-sponsored testing by a team from Macau in China subjected fungi to hypergravity with ESA’s fast-spinning centrifuge.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      Turning Science Fiction into Science Fact: NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts Program
    • By European Space Agency
      When astronauts return to the Moon they will be bringing along a new generation of spacesuits, designed to withstand the harsh conditions of the lunar surface. But in keeping their human occupants safe and comfortable, these suits might also become a fertile environment for harmful microbial life – especially as astronauts will potentially be sharing suits with one another.
      View the full article
  • Check out these Videos

  • Create New...