Astronomy’s Shettleworth Honored for Supporting KECK Consortium

Linda Shettleworth, administrative assistant in the Astronomy Department, started working for Wesleyan in 1980.

Linda Shettleworth, administrative assistant in the Astronomy Department, started working for Wesleyan in 1980.

For her exemplary service assisting an organization that improves astronomy research opportunities for undergraduates, Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium (KNAC) recently honored Linda Shettleworth with a certificate of achievement.

KNAC is an organization of eight colleges and universities in the northeast that have banded together to improve astronomy research opportunities for undergraduates. The members are: Colgate, Haverford, Middlebury, Swarthmore, Vassar, Wellesley, Wesleyan and Williams.

The group’s activities are supported by the National Science Foundation through a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) grant to Wesleyan. Since 2004, Shettleworth has administered the grant and assisted with the administration of a previous grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation that initiated the consortium.

“Her cheerful competence and unwavering loyalty to the best interests of all of us has been much appreciated by the faculty with whom she deals on a regular basis,” says Bill Herbst, the John Monroe Van Vleck Professor of Astronomy, chair of the Astronomy Department and director of Graduate Studies. “The Astronomy Department is lucky to have her and proud of her service and accomplishments.”

Shettleworth came to Wesleyan 32 years ago and worked in the Astronomy Department’s darkroom, located in the basement. There, she measured star images on 5-by-7-inch glass plates, six hours a day.

“I was living the life of a mole,” she says, smiling. “I didn’t know anything about astronomy then, but they taught me.”

In 1987, Shettleworth became a full-time secretary and moved to her current office on the department’s first floor. She inherited files dating back to 1916; the department’s original wood tables, desks and file cabinets adorn her office today. In 1995, she was named the department’s administrative assistant and her responsibilities increased. She now oversees more than 25 budgets, the course curriculum, and any faculty and student needs. She also manages the Star Lab which is an outreach program to the community.

“I used to hate math but now it’s a big part of my job when dealing with the budget,” she says. “If we’re off a few dollars and cents, I want to know why. I enjoy that, the problem solving,” she says.

In 2004, Wesleyan took over the KECK grants and Shettleworth began interacting with faculty from the other KECK schools.

“I enjoy interacting with the KECK PIs, and I love our students and faculty here at Wesleyan. They are awesome, and the faculty are so accommodating,” she says. “I feel very blessed.”