Ashley Walker (astrochemist)

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Ashley Lindalía Walker
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Chicago, Illinois
Alma materChicago State University, 2020 (BS)
Scientific career
FieldsAstrochemistry, Science Communication
InstitutionsGoddard Space Flight Center[1]
InfluencesLucianne Walkowicz[2], Sarah Hörst
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CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • Astrochemist
  • Science communicator
  • Activist

Ashley Lindalía Walker is an astrochemist, science communicator, and activist. In response to police brutality against Black Americans and sparked by the success of Black Birders Week, Walker co-organized BlackinChem, #BlackInAstro, and #BlackInPhysics to highlight and amplify the voices of Black researchers and scholars in these fields.


Walker was raised in Chicago's Englewood neighborhood where she developed an interest in science, enjoying visits to the Adler Planetarium.[3] Despite this interest in science, she pursued a degree in business at City College of Chicago, eventually changing her major to forensic chemistry and transferring to Chicago State University.[3] There, she became the University's first to develop her own astrochemistry major, training and collaborating with planetary scientists and computational chemists to study the chemical compositions of planetary atmospheres.[4] During the course of her undergraduate career, she was admitted into the Banneker Institute program at Harvard University, where she worked in Karin Öberg's research group modeling hydrogen cyanide in protoplanetary disks.[5][6] She later worked as a research assistant at the Goddard Space Flight Center where she was able to study the atmospheric Saturn's moon Titan using infrared spectroscopy under the mentorship of planetary scientist Sarah Hörst.[3][4] Her senior thesis ultimately focused on Tholins, which are organic compounds that when combined with water can be raw materials for prebiotic chemistry, on Titan.[7][8]

Science Communication and Advocacy

Walker has leveraged her social media platforms and networks within astronomy and planetary sciences to advocate for Black women and nonbinary individuals pursuing careers in Science, technology, engineering, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).[3][4] In 2019, she organized an event at the Adler Planetarium to highlight Black women in astrochemistry and planetary sciences as part of the Wakandacon convention.[4] Building on the success of Black Birders Week, an online campaign that highlighted Black nature enthusiasts and increased the visibility of Black birders, Walker co-organized #BlackInAstro, #BlackinChem|BlackInChem, and #BlackInPhysics weeks.[9][10][11][12] In addition to highlighting Black scientists leading in those fields, the campaigns also advocated for eliminating graduate programs' reliance on the Graduate Record Examinations|Graduate Record Examinations (GREs) and highlighting internships, funding support, and other career development opportunities for early career Black researchers.[9][13] The inaugural #BlackInChem produced content in collaboration with the Royal Society of Chemistry and the American Chemical Society, while #BlackInAstro partnered with the American Astronomical Society's Astrobites to produce curated content for the week.[14][15] These campaigns were collectively recognized by the journal Science (journal)|Science as a finalist for 2020 Breakthrough of the Year.[16] Walker is also a member of the American Astronomical Society, where she serves as the most junior member of the Society's Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy with Louise Edwards|Louise O. V. Edwards.[17][18]


  1. "Intern Ashley Walker". Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  2. "Thank You Notes".
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Fredette, Meagan (December 14, 2020). "Astrochemist Ashley Lindalía On The Importance Of Fostering More Diversity In STEM". Bustle.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Rockett, Darcel (July 25, 2019). "Wakandacon returns to Chicago without 'Black Panther.' Meet the aspiring astrochemist making her mark on the event — and fighting the 'Black women don't like physics' stereotype". Chicago Tribune.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. "2017 Core: Banneker Institute".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. Walker, Ashley L.; Oberg, Karin; Cleeves, L. Ilsedore (2018-01-01). "Hydrogen Cyanide In Protoplanetary Disks". American Astronomical Society. 231: 257.08. Bibcode:2018AAS...23125708W.
  7. Stone, Maddie (February 13, 2020). "NASA Found Exotic Organic Molecules on Ancient Space Object 'Arrokoth'". VICE.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. Walker, Ashley L.; Horst, Sarah M.; Hadnott, Bryné; He, Chao; Yant, Marcella (2019-01-01). "Infrared Transmission and Reflection of Titan Aerosol Analogues Under Vacuum". American Astronomical Society. 233: 255.02. Bibcode:2019AAS...23325502W.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Kwon, Karen (June 25, 2020). "Black Astronomers Highlight Achievements and Obstacles". Scientific American.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. Rabie, Passant. "#BlackInAstro highlights the experiences of Black astronomers: "We don't see us in the room."". Inverse.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  11. Mallenbaum, Carly (August 4, 2020). "#BlackBirdersWeek, #BlackInNeuro: Black scientists, physicians are using hashtags to uplift". USA Today.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. Harris, Margaret (2020-10-29). "Celebrating Black physicists". Physics World. Retrieved 2021-01-03.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. Martin, Kristyn (July 1, 2020). "The surprising reasons there are so few Black scientists in the space industry". Yahoo Life.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. "#BlackinChem part 1: #BlackinChem week". Royal Society of Chemistry. October 16, 2020. Retrieved 2021-01-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. Kohler, Susanna (June 10, 2020). "#BlackInAstro: How Can We Support Black Astronomers?". Retrieved 2021-01-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. Langin, Katie (2020-12-21). "'A time of reckoning.' How scientists confronted anti-Black racism and built community in 2020". Science | AAAS. Retrieved 2021-01-09.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. Reyes, Mia de los (2020-06-22). "#BlackInAstro Experiences: Ashley Walker". AstroBites.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. "Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy | American Astronomical Society".

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