ashley science cheerleader project merccuri citizen science robocon This is an excerpt from the ROBOCON Tampa Bay website:
ROBOCON Tampa Bay is delighted to welcome Science Cheerleader Ashley Keegan, a former Orlando Magic Dancer , to our event!  
She’ll be joined by the Gryphons Junior Varsity cheerleading squad from Sickles High School, who will be shouting it out for science!
Founded by Darlene Cavalier, a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader , the goal of the Science Cheerleaders is to “unite the citizen’s desire to be heard and valued, the scientist’s growing interest in the public’s involvement, and government’s need to garner public support. The Science Cheerleader serves to get the conversation going, rally the troops, solicit views from all sides and change the tone of science and science policy in this country.”
And they do it with all the fun and energy of professional cheerleaders!
Ashley Keegan is one of over 250 Science Cheerleaders involved in the program. She was an Orlando Magic Dancer for five season, and recently completed her Masters in Business Administration (in one year!) at the University of Central FL. She currently works with the NASA Kennedy Space Center where, among other things, she works on Project MERCCURI.
We asked Ashley a little bit about her experiences as a Science Cheerleader, and the message she’s bringing to ROBOCON Tampa Bay!
R. Tell us about your work with NASA?
Ashley: I have been working for NASA for a year and a half now and it has been such an interesting and eye-opening experience. I love that I am contributing to history and something much bigger than I. The common misconception is that since the shuttle program ended NASA has shut done and we aren’t doing anything which is completely false. Although the shuttle program did end we are now working on many new programs. I currently work in Engineering Services and the type of work being done right now is on the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB), the crawler transport, mobile launch platform, and launch Pads. The “upgrades” will support the new space launch systems.
R. What are some of the more interesting events for which you’ve SciCheered?
Ashley: Because of my close proximity to the Kennedy Space Center I have been working on Project MERCCURRI. I have taken microbe swab samples from at an Orlando Magic Game at the Amway Center as well as at other Pop-Warner football and cheerleading events around the state of Florida to be cultured, studied, and sent to the International Space Station.
R. What do you see as the most important message of the Science Cheerleaders? See Ashley’s response to this and other thought-provoking questions on ROBOCON Tampa Bay’s site.

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