By Roadtrip Nation

Kimberly Arcand


My road in life has been direct.
From a young age, I knew I wanted to be a scientist and make an impact on the world.
As a child, I thought I wanted to be an astronaut, but quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to handle the commute to space.
I started off studying zoology in college but segued into molecular biology to study parasites—toward the end of my studies, I realized that I didn’t want to continue with bugs and parasites.
Fortunately, one of the computer science professors was very welcoming and found a place for me within the field even though I didn’t have any background or former training.
I still graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology, but did some postgraduate work in computer science.
Shortly after graduating, I got my job as the visualization and emerging tech lead for the Chandra X-ray Observatory at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and have been here for over 20 years!
I’ve also co-written several nonfiction popular science books.
Keep following my journey


Visualization & Emerging Tech Lead

I use data to tell stories about space.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Communicating / Sharing Stories

Day to Day

My days are different. Some days I work from home typing up emails, working on papers, or sitting on the phone in teleconferences. Other days I'm traveling out of state or country to conferences. Still others, I'm sitting in meetings at various local / regional locations. Some months have clumps of talks and events, or radio / TV work. Sometimes I'm up early to talk with folks in Europe; other days, I work late to catch up with colleagues in Japan or New Zealand.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for everyone

Learn how to code. Coding is a huge skill in this industry. Learning how to network is also incredibly powerful in this field as well as so many others. Take time to learn how to make connections and cultivate your network.


The Noise I Shed

From Peers:

"You don't look like you'd work in science. You look young to be here. You stick out. For someone who doesn't have the same credentials that we do, you hold your own pretty well."

Challenges I Overcame

Working Parent