SDFF + NORCAL PUBLIC MEDIA PRESENT

2021 DECLARE YOUR INDEPENDENTS

EPISODE 3 - CELESTIAL PIONEERS

ELIANA NOSSA: THE IONOSPHERE

Filmmaker: Daniel L. Bernardi
Year of Completion: 2020
TRT: 6 mins
Country of Origin: U.S.

Plasma physicist Eliana Nossa finally finds herself on equal footing and looks upward to the ever-changing universe.

In this mini doc, plasma physicist and NSF researcher Dr. Eliana Nossa explains her study of the ever-changing universe and her role as a woman among her male colleagues. Nossa gives a history of how she came to her field of research, and how her fascination with the ionosphere was at the heart of a career that eventually landed her at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, the first facility built specifically to study the ionosphere and near earth objects. Dr. Nossa’s research, which she explains as “focused on the ever-changing universe,” resonates with her experience as a scientist and a woman of color working in a field that remains dominated by white men. While her narrative is punctuated by photos of a smiling Nossa at the breathtaking Arecibo site, those images bely the history of a struggle, as she describes her current position as the first time in her professional life that she has not felt bogged down by discrimination. More than just an observer of change in the ionosphere, the liminal layer between the earth’s atmosphere and the vacuum of space, Nossa’s work and her presence in such a masculine, white space is helping create changes in the terrestrial world, both through scientific research on ionospheric irregularities that impact terrestrial communication, and by her presence and esteemed position in a historically segregated field.

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