Emily Calandrelli’s new frontier
Hometown: Calandrelli grew up in Morgantown, W.Va., and now lives in Cambridge.
Think of: A female version of Bill Nye the Science Guy (but younger, shorter, and without the bow tie).
What caught our eye: As producer and host of Fox’s new syndicated series “Xploration Outer Space,” Calandrelli explains and explores the wide and mysterious world of space in an approachable (and entertaining) way.
Light bulb moment: An engineering internship at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland was Calandrelli’s first step toward realizing she wanted a career that helped explain space engineering and exploration issues. “All of the interns had to do a presentation on what they learned that summer. The director of my program pulled me aside and asked if I had training in public speaking. He said I must be a senior in college. I was a rising sophomore. That was when I realized I might be good at explaining this stuff and bringing the information, for lack of a better phrase, down to earth.”
Biggest thrill: “I actually get to meet my idols in [the aeronautics and astronautics] field and ask personal questions. Getting to ask these pioneers like Richard Garriott and Elon Musk of SpaceX is such an honor, and these guys are just incredibly humble and genuinely curious people.”
Biggest surprise: “The most surprising thing was finding my balance in front of the camera. I have never done TV before, and being yourself while explaining complex issues on camera is an adjustment.”
Inspired by: “I am very inspired by the exploration of space via private means. This is the first time in history that individuals are taking their own money and putting it toward space exploration, an investment that will not yield many returns in the near future.”
Aspires to: Calandrelli would like to help influence space exploration policy on a national and international scale and give the general public insights into how technology is influencing public policy.
For good luck: “There are definitely a lot of deep breaths before I speak with people for the show. I still feel like I am in study mode, because I just read, read, read before any interview.”
What people should know: Calandrelli, who graduated with degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering from West Virginia University, moved to Boston and earned dual master’s degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2013 in aeronautics and astronautics, then technology and policy. She was also a visiting scholar at the Harvard NASA Tournament Lab, helping organizations solve technical challenges through the use of crowdsourcing.
Coming soon: Calandrelli can be seen hosting “Xploration Outer Space” Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. on FOX-owned stations, including Boston’s Channel 25 (the show premiered this weekend). Episodes are also available for free on Hulu the following day.