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Fraknoi Supporters Award

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.

The ASP’s 2018 Fraknoi Supporters Award recipient was Mary Marcussen, consultant, grant writer, and project design specialist.

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. She 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 Andy Fraknoi
    About Andy Fraknoi

    After 39 years of service and support to the ASP, Andy Fraknoi retired from the organization in 2012. Fraknoi, who retired from the Astronomy Department at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California, in May, 2017 also served, prior to Foothill, for 14 years as the executive director of the ASP.While here, he created Project ASTRO, a program that trains and links volunteer astronomers with 4th-9th grade teachers in regional centers around the country, and Family ASTRO, which provides games and kits that allows families with children to enjoy astronomy together. He also organized a series of workshops and conferences about the teaching of astronomy, both at the K-12 and college level (Cosmos in the Classroom), and developed a DVD-ROM collection of classroom astronomy activities (The Universe at Your Fingertips), which is used in educational settings around the world. In the realm of publications, Fraknoi served as longtime editor of the ASP’s Astronomy Beat, a popular “insider’s guide” to diverse astronomy subjects, endeavors and professions.

    At the ASP 2012 Annual Meeting in Tucson, a new award was inaugurated and presented to Andy, the Andrew Fraknoi Supporters Award. The ASP staff will identify and honor an individual who has demonstrated exceptional service to and support of the organization as well as present the awardee with this honor at our Annual Awards Gala. The ASP looks forward to carrying on Andy’s remarkable spirit this way.

Please contact the Awards team if you have questions about the nomination process.