The Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s 2018 Andrew Fraknoi Supporters Award goes to a longtime friend and supporter of the ASP: Mary Marcussen, consultant, grant writer, and project design specialist.
Named in honor of Andrew Fraknoi, former ASP Executive Director who shaped the Society’s educational mission and left an enduring mark and profound impact on the organization, the award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions towards ASP’s mission of advancing public understanding of science through astronomy. This year, Mary Marcussen is being honored for her tireless efforts in helping the society think through and fund projects that have firmly secured the ASP’s reputation as an international leader in supporting astronomy teaching and learning.
Mary has served as the ASP’s grant developer for over 25 years. Her specialty is helping organizations develop and craft National Science Foundation grants. The first NSF award she helped the ASP secure was in 1993 for Project ASTRO – ASP’s landmark education project that pairs amateur and professional astronomers with classroom science teachers. Project ASTRO continues to this day with a network of active sites across the country.
Since then, Mary has helped the ASP design, develop, and fund four additional NSF education projects: Astronomy From The Ground Up (providing informal educators and nature interpreters with innovative ways to communicate astronomy), Sharing The Universe (helping amateur astronomers improve the quality and effectiveness of their public outreach), My Sky Tonight (developing astronomy activities for preschool children), and most recently, On-the-Spot Assessment to Improve Scientist Engagement with the Public (providing early career research astronomers with the tools and knowledge needed to communicate effectively).
Over the last quarter century, Mary has helped the ASP secure an astonishing $9.6 Million in NSF support impacting millions of students, families, educators, and scientists. But more importantly, these projects represent a portfolio of successful work that has shaped and defined the ASP’s reputation and core mission – to insure everyone has an equal opportunity to engage in astronomy, learn astronomy, and share that knowledge with others.
Mary Marcussen’s professional record includes more than 50 successful proposals to the National Science Foundation raising more than $90 million to support museum exhibitions, planetarium shows, large format films, community and youth programs, informal learning research, and initiatives to build infrastructure for the field of informal science education. Her development experience includes capital campaigns and high production corporate, foundation, and government grant work. Mary is the former National Grants Manager for the California Academy of Sciences, prior to which she served as a systematic biologist and senior educator for the museum. Her strong combination of expertise in scientific research, informal science education, and fundraising transforms creative ideas into nationally competitive grant proposals.
About the ASP
The ASP is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to use astronomy to increase the understanding and appreciation of science and to advance science and science literacy. The ASP connects scientists, educators, amateur astronomers and the public together to learn about astronomical research, improve astronomy education, and share resources that engage learners of all kinds in the excitement and adventure of scientific discovery. Current ASP programs and initiatives support college faculty, K-12 science teachers, amateur astronomy clubs, science museums, libraries, park rangers, and girl scouts to name a few.
Through its annual awards, ASP recognizes achievement in research, technology, education, and public outreach. The awards include the ASP’s highest honor, the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal awarded since 1898 for a lifetime of outstanding research in astronomy. The Bruce Medal has gone to some of the greatest astronomers of the past century, including Arthur Eddington, Edwin P. Hubble, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, and Vera Rubin. The ASP also presents the Klumpke-Roberts Award for outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. Awardees include Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, and the Hubble Heritage Project.