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Planetarium Service Award

The Planetarium Service Award is awarded annually by the Department of Physics & Astronomy to recognize the significant contributions of a JMU student. The JMU Planetarium is a $2M state-of-the-art facility with free shows every Saturday afternoon presented by JMU undergraduates. These students have been trained to operate the equipment and provide an informative narrative of the night sky each season. Each year, the award is given to one student who has gone above and beyond expectations and made positive contributions fundamentally impacting our mission of science education and public outreach. The plaque listing these students is mounted on the wall inside the planetarium for all visitors to see.


Planetarium Service Award 2013-2014: Caitlin McDermott

Caitlin McDermott, recipient of the 2013 Planetarium Service Award
Caitlin McDermott,  2013 Planetarium Service Award Recipient

Caitlin McDermott is the 2013 recipient of the Planetarium Service Award. She began working at the planetarium in 2010, her sophomore year at JMU. In that time, she has been an instrumental part of our enormous growth. She helped create teaching guides and lesson plans, worked numerous Saturday afternoons welcoming the public, provided fantastic star talks, set up solar telescopes for young children to look through, and provided excellent leadership by example to all the new JMU students we've welcomed on staff over the past three years! This past summer she was also a terrific camp counselor at our first space camp (Go Team Venus!). McDermott has done it all and always with a smile on her face. She will be sorely missed as she leaves JMU but she will be an incredible teacher at whatever school is lucky to have her. McDermott graduated this year with a Master's degree in education at JMU.


Planetarium Service Award 2012-2013: Jami L. Dodenhoff

Dodenhoff at the awards Banquet with Shanil Virani
Dodenhoff with Planetarium Director, Virani, at the JMU Dept. of Physics and Astronomy award banquet

Jami L. Dodenhoff is the inaugural recipient of the Planetarium Service Award. Dodenhoff worked at the Planetarium for three years and is creditedd with contributing to the enormous success the JMU Planetarium has seen over last two years. She was recognized for her commitment to science education and teaching, and especially for providing fantastic star talks for the large audiences we've seen at the Planetarium. Classes rave about her personality and her        passion for teaching. She also developed lesson guides and teaching plans when we have K-12 classes visiting.

Dodenhoff graduated with her Bachelor's and Master's degree in Education and was enrolled in the IDLS program. Currently, she is a 2nd grade teacher in Northern Virginia.