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SMCC Faculty Dr. Sian Proctor Returns from Global Adventures

Dr. Sian Proctor, a member of South Mountain Community College’s geology, sustainability, and planetary science faculty, returned on July 17, 2017 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Teacher at Sea Program (TAS).  She believes in taking advantage of professional growth opportunities and gives presentations to students around the country on how a career in Science, Technology, Engineering, & Mathematics (STEM) has changed her life.

“It is important to engage in lifelong learning and to push yourself outside your comfort zone,” Dr. Proctor said. “When we do this, we truly experience and learn from the world around us.”

Dr. Proctor is one of nearly 700 educators to have participated in the TAS program since its inception in 1990. She set sail on the NOAA vessel Oscar Dyson to work with scientist tasked with completing an acoustic-trawl survey of Walleye Pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) around Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska., According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Alaskan pollock is the world’s second-most important fish species in terms of total catch. Scientists continually monitor the population to prevent overfishing. Even though Dr. Proctor is not a biologist she enjoyed being at sea and learning about the science behind creating sustainable fisheries.

In 2016, Dr. Proctor was selected for the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassadors Program and visited several of the country’s astronomy facilities. Through that experience she met astronomers from around the United States which opened up even more opportunities. She started her 2017 summer off with 2-weeks at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. doing astronomy education outreach with one of the ACEAP ambassadors. he then returned to Chile with another ACEAP ambassador   to engage in STEM outreach with k-12 schools in San Pedro de Atacama. While in Chile, she went on her first meteorite hunt and helped retrieve a meteorite from the Atacama Desert.

“I love having my summers off so that I can travel and engage in professional development. The best part about being a geoscientist is that everywhere I go, there is something for me to learn about our amazing Earth.

Dr. Proctor’s past adventures also include spending a month in Barrow, Alaska in 2014 with the National Science Foundation’s PolarTREC program, and serving as education outreach officer for a 4-month NASA funded Mars simulation called HI-SEAS. She has had a life-long love of space exploration and was a finalist for the 2009 NASA astronaut selection process. Her goal is to be a role model for students to purse STEM careers and she believes in leading by example.

“I hope that when students see me traveling the world, making connections, and creating unique learning opportunities then maybe they will be inspired to do the same.”

Dr. Proctor frequently appears in science-related media programming. She is currently featured in the Science Channel show Strange Evidence airing on Tuesday nights. She also appeared in the 2016 PBS series Genius by Stephen Hawking, Episode 2: Are We Alone. In 2012, she appeared in two episodes of the Cox7 Arizona series The STEM Journals. In 2010, she spent two months filming the Discovery Channel reality TV show called The Colony.