My Work

Winter Updates/Upcoming Gigs

I’ve been huddled away writing my thesis and by the grace of wonderful friendships and some lucky turns of events, my spring is now packed. Here’s a (to-be-updated?) schedule and where to find me:

  • Panel on diversity in space science, National Student Space Conference, University of Birmingham, Mar. 7-8. Event info
  • Storyteller, Story Collider, Cambridge, April 23rd. Event info
  • Panel on diversity and women of color in space science, Women in Science Conference, Canadian Space Agency, May 6-8. Tickets
  • Poetry, Cheltenham Science Festival, date TBD within June 2-6. Event info
  • Poetry with An Evening of Unnecessary Detail, Backyard Comedy Club (London), June 30th. Event info

I also have a few non-public events, some of which will be recorded:

Also, catch my and my co-authors’ work in

October Updates

This summer was full of outreach! In May, MSSL hosted local Scouts who were returning after an exciting visit in 2018. We ran talks and activities based on the James Webb Telescope, IR imaging, 3D imaging for Mars rovers, and icy moon hydrothermal vents.

Later that month I hosted the Sutton Scholars Mission to Space (formerly Mission to Mars) event once again at UCL. This was a really wonderful day, with a handful of Ph.D. students from MSSL reaching about 100 bright students from London with activities and talks about space engineering, astrobiology, exoplanets, and space exploration.

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I had the great pleasure of speaking on the Melanin Memos Podcast in June about my work and thoughts on the future of space ethics. This is a great show highlighting women of color in STEM and a must-listen!

MSSL hosted three undergraduate physics students from Kyoto Sangyo University in September, one of whom I mentored for the week on a project to localize the Opportunity rover using simulated rover images compared with actual rover images. Summaries of all three projects can be found here! The following week, I attended the EPSC-DPS Joint Meeting in Geneva, where I gave a talk on my ongoing work of processing and visualizing 3D products of the Curiosity Rover exploration site in Gale Crater, Mars. The videos from that talk can be seen here!

On October 5th, I attended and participated in the Decolonise STEM symposium, which featured keynotes and panels addressing the relationship between science and colonialism and how we might address this relationship in our research and activist work. I had the pleasure of sitting on the second panel and speaking about colonialism and space exploration (my slides can be found here, and a recording is forthcoming). This was a fantastic and extremely vital event and I’m hoping to see this work continued, especially at this important moment for UCL specifically to address its role in the history of eugenics.

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New & Upcoming

On October 19th, you can catch me at the Bloomsbury Festival’s “Under the Moon Hub” running my rover localization game and performing two pieces from THEY WILL BE FREE (2017).

Speaking of my album, the entirety of TWBF is now on Soundcloud, including the bonus tracks and select instrumental tracks! Things have otherwise been slow artistically, but I’ve published my latest poem, “pardesi,” written for the UK National Poetry Day, on my website.

Recommendations:

  • My friend and colleague Dr. Jazmin Scarlett, a social volcanologist, talks about her work on the most recent episode of The Arch & Anth Podcast
  • Lisa Pettibone, the resident artist of MSSL, is having her end-of-residency exhibition in London from October 17th to the 27th, with a symposium on Oct. 24 – details here.
  • The #DecoloniseSTEMsymposium hashtag on Twitter!

Anaglyphs from Gale Crater

The Curiosity Rover is still sending home stunners. As it continues to image higher-relief terrain, its 3D views from its various cameras will become all the more dramatic. Here are some “lazy” red/blue anaglyphs (for use with red/blue glasses) of recent Navcam images from the rover as it clambers up the central mound of Gale Crater towards Mount Sharp.

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Red/blue Navcam images of the central mound in Gale Crater, sol 2463. Credit: MSL team via Mars Mission Images; D. M. Persaud/UCL.

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Red/blue Navcam “panorama” of the central mound in Gale Crater, sol 2463. Credit: MSL team via Mars Mission Images; D. M. Persaud/UCL.

Spring Updates

I had the absolute pleasure of reading my poetry at the Battersea Arts Festival with Heaux Noire in April at the Battersea Arts Centre, which was filmed by the British Library. This was truly a night of love, warmth, and healing: surrounded by friends in a beautiful venue; new friends made; wonderful, soul-warming art enjoyed. I’m humbled by the imagination, creativity, and artistry of the other artists who performed that evening (image credit: Myah Jeffers/Heaux Noire).

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I’ve recently had five new poems published in the Caribbean folio of Anomaly’s 28th issue by Anomalous Press. These poems are part of what will be my next book and I’m honored they’ve found such a home!

In March, I revisited one of my favorite events, the Women in Physics London Conference hosted by Kings College London, as an invited panelist. This was such a special day and I look forward to attending again! You can watch the panel here.

I also gave a talk for the Astrobiology and Planetary Exploration (APEX) seminar series at UCL. I’ve uploaded my visualizations of my 3D datasets of Gale Crater, Mars, which I demonstrated in this talk, here.

On the composition front, I’ve recently made a short electro-acoustics piece called ‘magnetopause’ using NASA THEMIS data simulating what Earth’s magnetopause sounds like, recordings from MSSL, and cello recordings old and new:

I’m also continuing work on new music with Najia Khaled as we formulate a new chamber pop album. You can preview some of our demos on Soundcloud x

Recommendations:

March Updates

It’s been a quiet first few months of 2019, but still exciting for me. In January I read my poetry at Rutland Arms in London as part of a global tour hosted by Global Poets Corner. This leg of the tour was called “Your Place in the World” and had a number of fantastic poets reading their work, and included two panels on which we discussed our writing process, our “place,” and what poetry means for us, especially as writers of color. This was a warming experience and I’m looking forward to what our hosts produce next. You can listen to my set below:

At the end of February I gave a lecture as part of the fabulous UCL Horizons program. My talk engaged topics in ethics in space exploration – from international space law, to morality among astronauts living on Mars – and, as always, I learned a lot from the students.

Finally, earlier in March I participated in the final sols of the second ExoFit rover field trial, once again on the PanCam team, processing images and interfacing with the operations team to plan data acquisitions. This time the rover was in the Atacama desert in preparation for a Mars environment – you can read more about the field trial here.

Upcoming events:

  • Tomorrow I’m giving a talk on my work producing and visualizing 3D orbital imagery of Gale Crater, Mars, at the Centre for Planetary Science’s Astrobiology and Planetary Exploration (APEX) seminar series at UCL (information here)
  • I’m returning to the Womxn in Physics London Conference this year as an invited panelist – I’ll be discussing issues in equity in the physical sciences on March 30 at Kings College London! Tickets are free.
  • On April 12 I will be reading poetry with the poetry/arts group Heaux Noire as part of the Homegrown Festival in Battersea. Get your tickets here!

End-of-Year Updates

This month has seen a lot of science communication! I sat down with my colleague Jacqueline Campbell a few weeks ago to chat with students at a Spacelink participating school to discuss surface exploration of Mars. You can watch our broadcast here. I also had a lovely conversation with the fantastic podcast Superwomen in Science this spring and the episode has now been released! We talked about science communications, the relationship between art and science, and my work at MSSL.

The lab recently honored me with the 2018 Elizabeth Puchnarewicz Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Outreach for my engagement work in the past year. I am immensely grateful and look forward to new outreach and communications projects in the new year!

In the world of writing, my poem “a good child in 1907” – a piece partially based on A House for Mr. Biswas by the late & great V. S. Naipaul – has been published in Issue 3 of The Brown Orient alongside some incredible work. I’d highly recommend reading through this issue; please also consider purchasing previous issues to support this upcoming journal. Finally, I’ll be reading my poetry at the Rutland Arms in London on January 15 as the final stop of the “Global Poets Corner” – get your tickets here!

This has been a quiet year with respect to new art. I’ve written the following “microsettings” of my short poetry:

and have, very excitingly, been collaborating in-person with Najia Khaled on our album (listen to some demos here). The end of the year has me tackling some new scores for these songs, thinking about future directions with my composition (following the large volume of work from 2017 that I haven’t revisited at all), and finishing off a new collection of poetry.

It’s otherwise been a fast-paced first year of my Ph.D; I’ve been to Vienna, Madrid, Berlin, and Nantes for workshops and conferences, and have been finalizing the first chapter of my thesis. Next year brings experiments in data visualization for Mars over different rover landing sites, with new and ongoing collaborations. It’s an exciting time to be studying Mars!

Happy New Year x

Recommendations:

November Updates

It’s been a while since I’ve updated, so here’s a rundown on what I’ve been up to since May:

I was so honored to have five poems, including my music composition/poem/planetary hope “A Song for Mars,” in Trascender Magazine’s beautiful summer issue! Read them here (and make sure to check out all of the other lovely content, too). I will also have another five poems in Anomaly‘s Caribbean Folio, as well as a poem in the upcoming third issue of The Brown Orient Literary Journal.

Composing has been slow, but I’m continuing my “microsettings” of my short poetry. Here’s “orogenesis” for voice, violin, saxophone, and piano (and read the poem here):

I’ve had quite a hectic late summer/autumn in the way of my Ph.D. – in June I attended a NASA training at the European Space Astronomy Centre (ESAC) in Madrid, Spain, and in September I had the pleasure of attending the European Planetary Science Congress, as well as the AbGradE early career astrobiology symposium, in Berlin, Germany. You can read my poster abstract here.

A few weeks later I participated in the final three sols of the ExoFiT rover field trial, an experiment in remote science operations that involved a mock rover exploring a field site in Tabernas, Spain. As part of the PanCam team in the Rover Control Center (RCC) in Harwell my duties included processing panoramas and color images from the wide-angle camera (WAC) and high-resolution camera (HRC) of the PanCam emulator, AUPE. You can read more about the trial and see some footage from the Spain site here.

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The RCC during ExoFiT. Image credit: STFC.

Meanwhile, I wrote a short essay on equity and space science for fellow geologist Jazmin Scarlett’s series on diversity in the geosciences for Black History Month (UK). Finally, this week I’m in Nantes, France for a planetary science technical school on fluid-rock interactions, where I am presenting work on processing and visualizing 3D orbital datasets to understand the fluvial history of Gale Crater, Mars, having just submitted the first chapter of my thesis.

My art has been slow but playing with visualization – especially of a shiny new mosaic I have of Gale Crater, the result of several months of processing/analysis and eleven (!) 3D products – has been really satisfying.

Visualization of my 3D model of a channel in Gale Crater, Mars. The left shows the bird’s eye ‘map view’ and the right is ‘on the ground’ inside the channel. Visualization is in NASA DERT and these images are false-colored (for fun). Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS / MSSL / D. M. Persaud

The next couple of months are a bit quieter before the new year, but I’m fleshing out and submitting new poetry projects, glaring at my music notation software and waiting for art to manifest, and working on some exciting Mars things – to be updated here hopefully more regularly!

Recommendations:

May Updates

 

It’s been a busy spring and I’ve been neglecting my updates!

In music — I had my electro-acoustics piece “Godspeed, John Glenn” at The Art of Planetary Science 2018 show at UA’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in February (in absentia). The piece is a bonus track of THEY WILL BE FREE and is an homage to John Glenn’s legacy, and I’m really glad to have shared this piece at such a wonderful event! You can listen to the track here. Najia Khaled and I are working on new music for our chamber-pop duo, as well – here’s a preview of “The Best of It.” After a few months’ break, I’m also starting to get back into setting my poetry; listen to “Alpha Lyrae” here.

I am blessed to have been interviewed about my upcoming book do not perform this by my wonderful uncle-cousin Rajiv Mohabir in Jacket2 as part of his landmark series on “Coolitude Poetics” – read the interview here. Additionally, I had a poem called “astronomy” published on The Aerogram for World Poetry Day, and have a new poem, “crime and science,” in the sixth issue of The Deaf Poets Society in conjunction with the Split the Rock Festival, at which I was honored to read a few poems via Skype. Another new poem of mine will be in this summer’s issue of Trascender Magazine. These poems are part of a new manuscript, house of mud, that I hope to share with you soon!

In outreach and public engagement, several UCL students and I successfully ran the Sutton Scholars “Mission to Mars” event in February for ~120 young students. I was also very honored to have been invited to speak at the Women in Physics London 2018 Conference at Kings College London on March 10th – read more about the event here  – and demonstrate rock fluorescence for kids at UCL’s International Day of Light celebration this month. Sharing aspects of earth and space science with children is always extremely rewarding, as I find it a two-way learning experience about our place in the solar system and what it means to relate to and study physics.

In this vein, I wrote a short reflection on the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch for a great article by Emily Lakdawalla (The Planetary Society), “Talking About The Tesla,” on the AAS Women in Astronomy Blog in February. Finally, I’ve recently recorded an interview about my work for an episode of the spectacular podcast, Superwomen in Science, which will be out soon – this was a great conversation about the ways we define science vs. art, especially with regards to science communications.

In April I spent a week Vienna to participate in a 3D visualization workshop for planetary terrain and the European Geosciences Union (EGU) meeting; last week I presented at the ExoMars PanCam science team meeting and in the next month will also present at the Centre for Planetary Sciences meeting at MSSL – it’s been an extremely chaotic but rewarding spring! You can find ongoing updates from my group here on Twitter. x

Recommendations:

October Updates

It’s been a VERY long time since I did some updates, so here we go!

I spent a short time at NASA JPL at the end of August, finishing up my project using Cassini imaging to investigate crater relaxation on the icy moons of Saturn. It’s felt momentous leading into the Grand Finale of the mission as well as my doctoral studies, and it was a wonderful time.

The Cassini mission did sadly end on Sept. 15 but I was excited to spend the week tweeting about my work and hopes for the future beyond Cassini from the marvelous scicomm account Real Scientists, alongside several wonderful planetary scientists. Read my intro post here.

September also saw my very brief release of my self-produced album THEY WILL BE FREE: a song cycle. This was a genuine labor of love over the course of a full year, and I was so blessed to work with so many talented and wonderful artists – from musicians to poets – on this work (see the page for the full credits), and to explore electroacoustic and multimedia composition, epic poetry, poetic storytelling, and space science history in developing the album. TWBF really became the culmination of my composition challenge – to write 120 pieces in as many days, before starting graduate school – as well as my deep interest in fusing modern composition and poetry, and I’m proud of the work we’ve produced.

The AAS Division of Planetary Sciences (DPS) meeting is next week, and UA’s The Art of Planetary Science initiative will have an exhibition at the conference. I’ll have a song from the album, “Earthling 1,” playing as video! The exhibition is open to the public on Monday, Oct. 16.

Looking Ahead

I’m so excited to be an upcoming guest on the Femmes of STEM Podcast, a wonderful show that discusses women in science. I’ll be discussing my own journey in STEM as well as the astronomer and fellow polymath, Paris Marie Pişmiş. Listen to the Season 2 trailer here!

I spent some of July writing a semi-autobiographical novella called “gone,” which follows a girl on her nightly walks – and subliminal encounters with various forms of Death – in five parts. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with this work but it was absolutely thrilling to return to writing fiction after 2-3 years, and I hope to finalize and submit to a few contests.

Last – but not least – I’ve started my Ph.D. in Space & Climate Physics at University College London, with a focus on imaging for Mars. The past year has been non-stop in my creative endeavors and I feel so fulfilled in beginning my doctorate this fall. I’ll be stepping back a bit with my art and writing (besides finalizing DNPT), and definitely reflecting on what I want my art to be in the future, as well as enjoying the wonders of planetary research. x