Dr. Carol Stoker, NASA Ames Research Center
What was your first job?
Dr. Stoker worked at a restaurant in Salt Lake City for a few months during her summer vacation when she was 16.
What got you interested in science?
Dr. Stoker was always interested in science. Even in grade school she would dream of being a scientist, more specifically a scientist who learned more about space. She would always be mixing chemicals and household products to see what would happen when she combined them. In one particular incident, she had just created a batch of homemade gunpowder, and decided to light it on fire. It almost burnt down her garage that she was working in!
Who has been a mentor for you and how was that helpful?
There weren't too many people to be mentors for her when she was younger. She grew up in an "ultra-conservative" family and community so most people didn't know what to do with a girl whose dream was to become a scientist. At her small college, her professors took the extra mile to help her learn concepts that she might have been lacking in previously so that she could succeed in becoming a space scientist.
If you weren't a scientist, what would you be?
She would be a sculptor or a National Park Ranger in Canyon Lands in southern Utah. She also would love to be a white water rafting guide because in college that was the way that her professors and classmates bonded and connected.