Dr. Christine Smit grew up immersed in a world of math and science. Her parents, her aunt, and her uncle worked as math educators, so along with Mad Libs and coloring books, Smit was given math puzzles to solve.
While in high school, Smit began exploring majors, and her father encouraged her “to give engineering a try,” she explains.
This path led her to work for Telophase as a software engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. At Goddard, Smit seeks to simplify the process of finding data, making it easier for climate scientists, educators, policy makers, and students to track down the information they need, from predicting famines to tackling class projects.
Smit works as a backend web developer for the GES DISC (Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center) archives on Giovanni-4, a web-based tool that gives users access to NASA earth science data without having to wade through the muck of massive data sets.
GES DISC provides a smorgasbord of global climate data from many NASA satellite missions, both current and historic. Smit helps make sure Giovanni-4 operates smoothly, troubleshooting issues encountered by users and working to resolve them.
“I do a lot of integration, as well,” Smit says, describing how major new features in Giovanni often require multiple developers to work on different pieces of the system at the same time. When she is the feature integrator, she makes sure all those updated pieces still work together.
This work ensures that scientists and other users of Giovanni-4 can readily access the information they need in order to complete research studies, many with global impact. Scientists have obtained data using Giovanni-4 to study everything from dust storms over the Arabian Peninsula to rainfall variability over Malaysia.
Smit says she appreciates how her job has a positive impact on the world, something not all engineers get to enjoy.
“There are a lot of ethical questions in engineering, and I like that we do work that benefits humanity,” she says.
With a PhD in electrical engineering from Columbia University, Smit says she considers herself a lifelong learner, and her work for Telophase allows her to continue learning about her rapidly changing field.
“Learning is the most rewarding part of my work,” Smit says. “I get to come here every day and find out how satellite products work, or discover more about the latest shifts in cloud services.”
At Goddard, Smit also explores another area of interest to her: music.
“I love music,” she shares. “It started with high school voice lessons, and I was able to keep singing through college.”
With a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance, Smit serves as secretary for the Goddard Music and Drama program and has been involved with a number of productions. Mostly recently, she tackled a role in the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies, playing the character of Young Heidi.
“Goddard has so many extramurals, which is one of the really cool things about it,” Smit says.
It doesn’t matter if she’s singing or programming – we’re proud to have Christine Smit on our team at Telophase.
Map images generated using Giovanni-4.