With the “Mommy Wars” once again erupting around Sarah Palin’s nomination for V.P., a piece of valuable insight arises in the scientific realm. Planetary astronomer Heidi Hammel has managed to do world-class science requiring frequent travel while sharing the parenting of three children, ages 7, 9, and 11, with her equally busy husband. For insight into Heidi’s work and how she balances her life, read “A Conversation with Heidi B. Hammel” in the Sept. 2, 2008, issue of the New York Times.
Of course both the article and biography are more about Heidi as a scientist than as a parent, but part of Heidi’s ability to do terrific science is a direct result of her ability to find balance in her life.
Having gotten to know Heidi for the biography, I could almost hear her laughing while delivering her advice on meeting deadlines to NYT reporter Claudia Dreifus: “You have to always be ahead of the game. If your proposal is due at NASA on Friday, it has to be finished on Wednesday because, on Thursday, it could be fevers and head lice.”