Professor honored with award from NASA

Sonoma State University professor Lynn Cominsky was honored with the Women in Aerospace Award last week in Arlington, Virginia. 

Only six women in the nation were selected to win this award which makes it so significant to the Sonoma State community. Dr. Hashima Hasan of the NASA headquarters nominated Cominsky due to her leadership skills and dedication to making a difference in the lives of girls and women in science. 

Having a Sonoma State professor win this award is both an honor for Professor Cominsky but considered an honor for Sonoma State as well. 

Cominsky has taught at Sonoma State University for over 25 years in the physics and astronomy departments. 

She has written over 100 research papers and is the principal investigator on over $15 million of grants to Sonoma State. 

“Professor Cominsky is the founder and director of SSU’s Education and Public Outreach Group, which supports several different NASA high-energy astrophysics missions, and also develops curriculum for the NSF-funded Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) project and for the U.S. Department of Education,” said Jean Wasp, media coordinator for Sonoma State. 

This group focuses on training for kindergarten through 12th grade teachers. They develop online interactive learning activities for math and science for the teachers to have their students use. This further makes a difference in the lives of young girls and has potential to make them find the same love of science that Cominsky found years ago. 

“In the past, she has served as the scientific director for the PBS NOVA television program ‘Monster of the Milky Way’ and accompanying planetarium show ‘Black Holes: The Other Side of Infinity,’” said Wasp.  

Cominsky has always been the type of person who likes to be involved and hold many leadership positions in her profession. 

She was also named Sonoma State’s Outstanding Professor in 1993 as well as the California Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education. 

As her career continued, she has been named with numerous more awards and titles including being named a fellow in 2007 by the California Council on Science and Technology, a fellow in 2009 of the American Physical Society and a fellow in 2013 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. 

One of her main focuses in her career is to be an advocate for young girls and women in aerospace. Aerospace is not a common field for women to be working in, so Cominsky finds it important to push women to further their studies in the field.

The Women in Aerospace program has been around for nearly 30 years. 

Their main focus is to expand opportunities for women and leadership in the aerospace community. Both men and women are able to enroll in a membership through Women in Aerospace. 

The volunteer-run organization holds a focus on networking for those who are members. It gives people from all over the country an opportunity to work together with a shared interest and bond.

For more information regarding the Women in Aerospace Award, students are encouraged to visit womeninaerospace.org or contact Hasan of NASA who nominated Cominsky for the award in which she earned.