Adler Staff Star: Meet Becky!

April 18, 2019 Tags:

Becky Rother
Product Designer

You work on a unique team here at the Adler. Could you give a quick summary about what Zooniverse is?

Zooniverse is a people-powered research platform, based here at the Adler and at the University of Minnesota and Oxford University. Essentially we help research groups with large amounts of image-based data to crowdsource their research, like the Galaxy Zoo astronomy team classifying millions of images of galaxies, or researchers from the Boston Public Library transcribing handwritten correspondence between anti-slavery activists in the 19th century in the Anti-Slavery Manuscripts project.

We’ve been around since 2007 and have grown exponentially every year. We’re now up to about 90 official projects, with topics ranging from astronomy to zoology. Anyone can participate regardless of age or background, and the scientists and research teams are always happy to chime in or answer questions on our message boards.

As Lead Designer for Zooniverse, what has been the most rewarding aspect of your role?

I have the coolest job! It’s so rewarding to know that the work my team and I are doing is contributing to real scientific research and leading to actual discoveries, like the recent exoplanet candidates that were discovered thanks to volunteers in the Planet Hunters TESS project.

In addition to the user experience design and visual design I get to do on a daily basis, part of my job also involves organizing and attending outreach events at the Adler and beyond. I love getting to share Zooniverse with guests—it’s so rewarding to see the spark when a guest realizes that they’re doing real science just by answering a few short questions.

What is one of your favorite memories from your time at the Adler?

How can you choose! Every day here is exciting.

Maybe not a specific moment, but every day I’m thankful for the strong women I can count as mentors and role models here at the Adler. Coming from a male-dominated industry, it’s been life-changing to see women in leadership positions supporting other women. I feel like I’ve grown a lot both professionally and personally since starting here two years ago.  

One day that stands out is the first Members’ Night I helped with. It was a few months after I had started so I was feeling a little trepidation at talking with Adler guests, but the rest of the Zooniverse team were so supportive and passionate that the feeling was infectious and I ended up having a great time.

What are some of your favorite things to do outside the Adler?

I love to travel and explore new places. Chicago is an amazing place to live! It’s so vibrant and dynamic that even though I’ve lived here for almost a decade there are still new things to see, restaurants to discover, and museums to visit.

My favorite places in the city are some of the smaller concert venues like Lincoln Hall and Metro. I’ve always been a fan of live music and Chicago gets some of the best shows anywhere.

Share one interesting fact about yourself!
In another life I was a concert photographer and have photographed Kendrick Lamar, James Blake, and St. Vincent, to name a few. Here’s my flickr.

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