Shannon Schmoll to Lead the International Planetarium Society

Shannon Schmoll, director of the Abrams Planetarium and an instructor in the department of physics and astronomy in the College of Natural Science at Michigan State University, was appointed president-elect of the International Planetarium Society. She will serve a six-year term beginning this year — two years each as president-elect, president, and past president.

Founded in 1970 at Michigan State, the society now has members in 50 countries. The stated mission of the International Planetarium Society is to provide the global community of planetariums “professional development, science literacy and arts/humanities awareness, innovative ideas, and partnerships in order to enhance the world’s appreciation and understanding of our universe.”

“During my tenure, I want to deepen the professionalization of the field, which includes ensuring that planetarians are well respected and paid fairly and that their roles are understood by their superiors,” Dr. Schmoll said. “I would also like to see IPS membership grow by building up the ‘international’ part of its membership and bringing in more people from all over the world.”

Dr. Schmoll added that “for the most part, we share the same sky and see the same stars, but the way we interpret those stars, the way we tell stories, the way people used them for timekeeping and navigation— those are differences. We have this thing that connects us all, but it also helps us understand each other in a more fundamental way.”

Dr. Schmoll is a graduate of the University of Washington with bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy and astrophysics. She holds a master’s degree in astronomy and astrophysics and a Ph.D. in astronomy and science education from the University of Michigan.

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