Optics Student Sheds Light on Science Exploration

Tuesday, October 25, 2016
RHIT Tayler Evans 26683

Focused On Future: Tayler Evans has returned from a NASA summer internship invigorated to learn more about light and its role in human life.

Tayler Evans doesn't shy away from a challenge.

She's close to earning a pilot's license to fly small private aircraft, has been voted to represent her student peers as a campus leader, and has an entrepreneurial spirit in hopes of someday owning her own business.

After all, this is a junior optical engineering student who says, "Life isn't fun and worth living if you don't challenge yourself."

Evans carried that can-do spirit to her internship at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, near her Maryland hometown, where she got to contribute to several innovative projects this past summer. She assisted a team of engineers and scientists that is examining the best position for mirror placement for NASA's upcoming Pre-Aerosols Clouds and Ocean Ecosystems (PACE) mission that is expected to deliver the most comprehensive global ocean-atmosphere measurements in American space exploration history.

The future NASA project will reveal systematic color sensing observations on the effects of aerosol gases and clouds on temperatures within the Earth's oceans. These long-term observations will monitor the impacts of climate change in ocean biology, ecology, and biogeochemistry.

"Light is magical. It contributes so much to our life-through color, energy, food, and vision," Evans says. "It is interesting to see how images collected and transferred millions of miles from Earth will reveal so much about the health of our planet."

The internship also gave Evans the opportunity to learn about early-stage development of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope, a NASA observatory designed to explore areas of dark energy, exoplanets, and infrared astrophysics; and the James Webb Space Telescope, which will allow astronomers worldwide to study phases in the history of the universe.

"I had to continuously pinch myself while walking around the future of space exploration. It is nice knowing that I now have peers at NASA," says Evans. "This summer helped give perspective to the many things I have learned in my college education. I have returned more invigorated and focused on what I'm doing and its importance."

Outside of the classroom, Evans has been elected vice president of the Student Government Association, is director of mentorship for the Escalate student entrepreneurship development program, and is a member of the Rose Innovative Student Entrepreneurs program. She also is a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.

"I like pushing myself and finding my personal limits," Evans says. "Every day offers something new and exciting."