Alumnae Achievement Award Winner 14
Dr. Amy Lo ‘93
Even by Crofton House School’s exceptionally high standards, Dr. Amy Lo ‘93 is an alumna with outstanding accomplishments. With a bachelor’s in physics from the famously rigorous Brown University, and a PhD in astrophysics from the equally prestigious UCLA, she is currently Northrop Grumman’s lead alignments engineer working on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. She is heading a team that’s objective is to create the first optical image of a planet beyond our solar system. In recognition of her remarkable contributions to engineering, in 2013 she received an Asian American Engineer of the Year award. Given these accomplishments and the promise of more to come, she is well-deserving of this year’s Alumnae Achievement Award, which was bestowed on her at this year’s school birthday by Alumnae Association Executive president, Dr. Christine (Wong) Applegarth ‘92.
Amy frames her successes in a unique way, noting that it was often a lack of impediments to her interests that was a key benefit of going to CHS: “At Crofton House, I didn’t have to experience the gender bias. There was never a restriction on girls doing science.” She went on to remark that this lack of bias positively affected her later pursuits at Brown and UCLA: “It never occurred to me that they wouldn’t listen when I said something.”
On the topic of the work she’s doing, Amy’s enthusiasm is contagious. “This is a kind of insane piece of equipment,” she notes with a chuckle: “It’s a once in a lifetime thing. It really is an honour.” In addition to working on the James Webb Space Telescope – also known as the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope – Amy is also working with a team on a developing a unique, star-shaped panel concept that could be deployed to block a distant star’s light in such a way that would allow for easier imaging one of its much smaller, less-bright planetary satellites. With palpable pride, she describes the joy of working with a team that operates in a seamless and invested way. She notes that “When any one of us encounters a tough problem, others are always there to jump in and suggest new ideas. For other women considering careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), Amy says, “Don’t be afraid to try new things. We all have a tendency to do the things that we know how to do. Because of the high fatigue factor in hard sciences or engineering and the extra gender baggage, you have to like it. You have to ask yourself if you like doing it.”
We are so happy for Amy and the astronomical contributions she’s making to the frontiers of human knowledge. When the James Webb Space Telescope launches in 2018, it will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. It’s an honour to count Amy among the many distinguished alumnae of Crofton House School. Congratulations Amy!