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Women and Girls in the Dark Sky Movement

February 11th is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, a day to celebrate the incredible contributions women have made to science and technology, highlight the gender inequities in the industry, and inspire people to support women in STEM fields. 

In honor of this important day, the International Dark-Sky Association would like to recognize women and girls from around the world who have influenced the dark sky movement. Our compilation of all-star women is merely a snapshot of the vast and diverse network of female advocates, lighting designers, and researchers in the dark sky community. Who would you add to this list? 

Dark Sky Advocates

Jennifer Barlow (U.S.)
In 2002, at age 15, Jennifer Barlow came up with an idea to encourage people to look up and enjoy a natural night sky. The idea picked up steam and today it is the worldwide celebration know as International Dark Sky Week
In explaining why she started the week, Barlow said, “I want people to be able to see the wonder of the night sky without the effects of light pollution. The universe is our view into our past and our vision into the future…I want to help preserve its wonder.” Learn more about Jennifer Barlow →


Andy Gutiérrez (Guatemala)
Andy Gutiérrez is a physics student at Universidad Del Valle Guatemala. Gutiérrez had never experienced a starry sky until she attended the first Mesoamerican Congress of Cultural Astronomy (CONMESAC) in November 2019, which she describes as the most important trip of her life. Her long-term dream is to give scientific support to the cosmovision of ancient civilizations and bring their knowledge back. With her interest in cultural astronomy, her academic focus is on mastering the scientific tools she’ll need to have a better understanding of our world and solve light pollution issues. Learn more about Andy Gutiérrez 

Dajana Bjelajac (Serbia)
Dajana Bjelajac is currently a Teaching Assistant at the Faculty of Sciences in Novi Sad, Serbia and a Ph.D. student in the field of geosciences. She is one of the founders of an non-governmental organization “Carpe Noctem” which aims to educate people from Serbia about light pollution. So far, she managed to organize several public events that gathered more than 1000 people in the nighttime environment, coordinate a project “Ecological Supernova – spreading awareness on light pollution” and publish a manual about light pollution in the Serbian language which will be distributed to more than 500 schools in Serbia. Learn more about Dajana Bjelajac → 

Women of Ladakh (India)
“The high altitude and dry climate of Ladakh results in wonderful night skies where you can identify numerous stellar objects…This lead to the creation of Astrostays that are currently set up in various villages of Ladakh. The local women running these homestays are not just trained in hospitality but also in operating the high-end sophisticated telescopes and reading the night sky. The local folklore about the stars and planets also play an important part in the traveler experience of astro-tourism. The long term impact of this new development is immense. Apart from the additional income for village women and community, looking at the night sky opens up the minds and increase their appetite for science.” Learn more about Astrostays → 

Rosalia Lugo (U.S.)
Self-described as “a true believer in the potential of working-class youth of color,” IDA Delegate Rosalía Lugo works as the teen programs manager at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois. With a master’s in education policy, organization, and leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Lugo says she likes working with young people “because they are so smart and want to learn.” Learn more about Rosalia Lugo


Susan Harder (U.S.) 
Susan has been a tireless dark sky advocate for over 20 years, serving as the NYC IDA Chapter leader for many of those years. Susan has worked closely with New York City Council members as well as with council members in East Hampton, where she resides. Susan also established a working relationship with executives at the local utility company and was able to raise awareness regarding light pollution issues over the years. She coordinated efforts with Sierra Club to have the New York City Council introduce a bill to restrict the CCT levels of LED streetlights. Learn more about Susan Harder → 

Amy Ollendorff and Meghana Raj (U.S.)
Silver Award Girl Scouts, Amy Ollendorff and Meghana Raj, from troop 3460, chose to educate their community and youth about the effects of light pollution in suburban Orange County, California. Their educational campaign included organizing an interactive booth as part of the Children’s Festival, which drew over 1,000 participants. At the event over 153 participants pledged to take action to “Save the Stars.” As part of their campaign, the girls also led a community education session at the Library for the City of Anaheim, and worked with the Tustin City Council to create a lighting ordinance. Learn more about Amy Ollendorff and Meghana Raj → 


Lighting Designers

Paulina Villalobos (Chile)
Paulina Villalobos is from the Atacama Desert, the driest, brightest & starriest place on earth. The natural perfect light and darkness guide her interest to study, work and promote lighting design with nature as a reference of quality for day and night. In 2005 Paulina founded DIAV, an architectural lighting design practice based in Santiago, Chile and developed conceptual designs for Singapore. Her works have been awarded in Europe, Asia and the Americas. In 2012 she founded
Noche Zero, an initiative to change the paradigm for urban lighting planning, promoting the importance of lighting design and the incorporation of ecology, human health, and light pollution control. Learn more about Paulina Villalobos

Dr. Karolina Zielińska-Dąbkowska (Poland)
Karolina Zielińska-Dąbkowska is a chartered RIBA architect and award-winning practicing lighting designer. She is also an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, Gdańsk University of Technology, Poland, and co-founder of GUT LightLab, where she conducts research on various aspects of light and lighting in the built environment. Actively engaged in the work of international lighting organizations, Karolina is well known for her critical voice on urban lighting and light pollution, providing guidelines and sharing best practices for nighttime illumination. Learn more about Dr. Karolina Zielińska-Dąbkowska → 

Nancy Clanton (U.S.)
Nancy Clanton is CEO of Clanton & Associates, founding the sustainable lighting design firm in 1981. Nancy speaks throughout the nation on topics relating to sustainable design, energy efficiency, and light pollution, and has been an instructor at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Learn more about Nancy Clanton → 

Suzan Tillotson (U.S.)
Suzan Tillotson not only understands the importance of good outdoor lighting for beautiful and healthy urban spaces, she designs it and gets it installed in some of the most prominent settings in the world. Her painstaking lighting studies for New York City’s redesigned East River Waterfront and its bicycle and pedestrian path involved testing scores of options for providing low-level, warm-colored, low-glare lighting — even selecting paint colors for existing site infrastructure to provide the most effective, least intrusive lighting possible. With dozens of urban projects in international cities from London to Los Angeles, Tillotson Design Associates has shown the world repeatedly that good lighting can and should be dark-sky friendly, and that our favorite urban spaces will be all the safer, healthier, and more beautiful for it. Learn more about Suzan Tillotson → 



Dr. Sibylle Schroer (Germany)
Dr. Sibylle Schroer has been active in light pollution research since September of 2010 when she joined the German “Verlust der Nacht” research project. She has acted as a research coordinator for the Loss of the Night research project and the EU “Loss of the Night Network” (COST Action ES1204 LoNNe). Dr. Schroer was one of the applicants/grant writers for LoNNe and is a partner within the STARS4ALL awareness project. She is also a member of the steering committee of the ALAN conference series. Learn more about Dr. Sibylle Schroer → 

Constance (Connie) Walker Ph.D. (U.S.)
Connie Walker is an astronomer dedicated to advocacy of dark skies education as well as measurement and mitigation. Inspired from an early age by astronauts landing on the Moon and the original Star Trek series, her curiosity for anything astronomy propelled her to be the first in her family to go to college and earn a Ph.D. Connie has been a Scientist at NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory for almost 20 years, creating innovative programs on dark skies education and sharing them via workshops, talks, and events all over the globe. Learn more about Connie Walker →

Kellie Pendoley (Australia)  
Dr. Kellie Pendoley has over 35 years’ experience as an environmental practitioner within the oil and gas and mining industries in Western Australia. Since the early 1990’s her career has focused primarily on marine turtles and their interaction with industry which led to an interest in the biological impacts of artificial light at night and a 30-year long quest to quantify skyglow at a landscape scale. Kellie has been instrumental in developing novel techniques for stand-alone, beach-based, monitoring of artificial light at night in remote locations.  Learn more about Dr. Kellie Pendoley →

Prof. Theresa Jones (Australia)
Theresa Jones is the Principal Investigator of Urban Light Lab at the University of Melbourne. Her research focuses on behavioural ecology and the impact of artificial night lighting on individual fitness and community structure. In addition to her passion for behavioural ecology, Jones a strong advocate for gender equality in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). In her role, she is leading a new generation of women in light pollution research, including Dr. Lucy McLay, Dr. Anne Aulsebrook, Joanna Durrant, and Ashton Dickerson. Learn more about Theresa Jones and her team → 

Sara B. Pritchard (U.S.)
Professor Sara Pritchard is a historian of technology and an environmental historian. Sara’s book project, From Blue to Black Marble: Knowing Light Pollution in the Anthropocene, explores how different scientific communities have studied artificial light at night and specifically environmental light pollution since the 1970s.  This research has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation as well as Cornell’s Society for the Humanities and Institute for the Social Sciences. Sara works with graduate students not only in Science and Technology Studies and History, but also in Design and Environmental Analysis, Development Sociology, History of Architecture and Natural Resources. Learn more about Sara Pritchard

Dr. Maja Grubisic (Germany)
“My current research focuses on ecological effects of light pollution, a global phenomenon that results from the use of artificial lighting. It is one of the fastest-spreading environmental alterations induced by humans, and a threat to biodiversity. By mimicking light conditions from urban and suburban areas in manipulative field studies and laboratory experiments, I investigate effects of low-level light at night, focusing on aquatic primary producers.” Learn more about Maja Grubisic →


IDA is privileged to work alongside so many women and girls defending the night from light pollution. Reach out to us on social media and let us know what women or girls you’d add to this list. 

Learn more about the International Day of Women and Girls in Science at