Rachel Zimmerman - MSS98


rachel zimmerman2Rachel Zimmerman’s life changed at the age of 12, when she was preparing a project for a school science fair. She developed a software program using Blissymbols and with the help of a computer and a special touch pad, people with severe disabilities are now able to communicate more easily with the persons around them. Her invention won first place in the London District science fair in London, Ontario, Canada, a silver medal at the 1985 Canada-Wide Science Fair in Cornwall (Ontario, Canada) and was showcased in Bulgaria at the World Exhibition of Achievement of Young Inventors.

Afterwards, Rachel earned a BA in physics from the Brandeis University (Massachusetts, USA) in 1995 and earned a Master of Space Studies degree from the International Space University (Strasbourg, France) in 1998.  She is still friends with many of her ISU classmates.  Rachel participated in the Space Generation Forum at UNISPACE-III in Vienna, Austria in 1999, and co-founded the Association for the Development of Aerospace Medicine (ADAM) while working as a contractor for the Canadian Space Agency.  She helped build part of the Space Vision System on the International Space Station in 1999-2000, then moved to California to work at The Planetary Society, and then the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, California, USA.

Since 2003, Rachel has been working at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California as Solar System and Technology Education and Public Outreach Specialist on topics such as NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn and two astrobiology projects.  She runs national and international essay contests about Saturn for students in grades 5-12, using her ISU contacts to facilitate contests in over 50 countries around the world.

Rachel's work has been published in “The Planetary Report”, the Journal of the National Space Society, and NASA's Ames Research Center Astrogram, among others. For outstanding performance and leadership in the field of space exploration, she has received numerous NASA/JPL awards, as well as many national and international awards for her work in science and technology.
She is interested in combining space technology with assistive technology. Her goal is to take NASA innovations and tailor them to fit the needs of people with disabilities, and she is on the national board for Science Education for Students with Disabilities (SESD).

For more information regarding the Blissymbol Printer,
check http://web.mit.edu/invent/iow/zimmerman.html
For information on the Cassini Scientist for a Day Essay Contest, check
http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/scientistforaday/