Jennifer Levasseur, PhD History ’14, is a curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Her collection responsibilities include the museum’s astronaut cameras, chronographs, and material focusing on the Space Shuttle Discovery and the International Space Station Program. Levasseur joined the Smithsonian in 2002 when few women were working in the space history community. Nearly two decades later, she is encouraged by the dramatic increase of women in the field and the impact of their contributions.
Levasseur shares that her educational experience at Mason was exceptional due to the supportive and dedicated professors and advisors she had during her time as a student. After obtaining her PhD, she turned her dissertation into a book, Through Astronaut Eyes: Photography from Early Human Spaceflight (Purdue University Press, 2020). This publication presents the story of how human daring, along with technological ingenuity, allowed people to see Earth and the Moon as they never had before, and features more than 70 astronaut still photography images from 1962 to 1972.
When asked what advice she would give to current and future students at Mason, she recommends they follow their heart and passion.
“Don’t pick a program based on what your family or friends think is right,” Levasseur says. “Identify your passion, listen to yourself, and you will be able to pick a career that suits you and completes you.”
Published summer 2021