Outreach and Community Involvement

The work of scientists belongs to the public.

A picture of Yaswant presenting at Astronomy on Tap BCS.


I am a firm believer that science is for the betterment of the public, and as such I participate in many outreach activities to help educate the public on science and scientists. These days you can find me at Astronomy on Tap BCS , where I run the "What's Up" segments, give occasional talks, and reoccur as the host. I am former DEEP mentor, where I led an undergraduate team in developing and improving demos of physics and astronomy concepts. These demos are then showcased at events around the year, primarily the Physics and Engineering Festival in April where thousands of schoolchildren of all ages come to Texas A&M to learn about physics and engineering. I also participate in the Letters to a Pre-Scientist program, where scientists are paired with various kids as pen-pals and try to inspire them to pursue careers in STEM.

During my time at UT Austin, I participated in many events with the Astronomy Students Association, where I previously acted as the President and Secretary. Some of the events: public star parties for special university/astronomical events, talks and demos for area schools, and solar observing with portable telescope at various public spaces. I also participated with Astronomy on Tap ATX, mainly operating portable telescopes for viewing during breaks and after the show. Finally, I hosted weekly star parties on the Painter Hall Telescope, operating the 100+ year old, 9-inch refractor for public viewing of astronomical objects.

A picture of Yaswant and three other standing in front of the US Capitol Building during a visit to Congress.

Community Involvement

Good scientists have a strong support system. With that in mind, I am heavily involved in several groups that seek to support graduate students and other members of the Physics and Astronomy department here at Texas A&M. Along with the aforementioned DEEP program, I am a mentor with the MAGIC program, which pairs new graduate students in astronomy with more experienced peers to ease their transition into grad school. I co-chair the GLASS program, which hosts monthly workshops to aid in the development of astronomy graduate students for academia and industry. I am the former co-chair in the Society for the Under-represented in Physics & Astronomy (SUPA), which aims to examine issues involving diversity and inclusion within the department, and is open to everyone regardless of identity or level within the department.

In order to support science and scientists, it is important to have a strong structure in science policy and administration. I've represented the Physics and Astronomy department as a Senator in the Graduate and Professional Student Government since Fall 2020. Currently I serve as the Co-Chair of Legislative Affairs, acting as a liason between the student body, the university administration, and the legislative bodies at the local, state, and federal level. I've also assisted the American Astronomical Society (AAS) with their advocay work. In May 2022 I participated in a Congressional Visits Day to discuss the importance of astronomical research with several US Congressional offices. In July 2022 I met with the White House's Office of Managment and Budget and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to discuss the release of inital JWST data and the role of federal support in the era of big data astronomy.