Janelle Wellons graduated with her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is currently working at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory as an instrument operations systems engineer. She has won various team and individual awards in her time there, with the most recent being the JPL Bruce Murray Award for “inspiring students to engage in STEM, quenching their thirst for knowledge, and sparking a curiosity greater than the stars in the sky”.
Her job consists of planning, generating, and validating the commands to operate scientific instruments in-flight, as well as monitoring their health and safety. She also works to develop instrument ground data systems and concepts to be used in operations. Her current projects consist of the Earth observing Multi-Angle Imager for Aerosols, Sentinel-6, and SWOT, the Moon observing Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, and and the now ended Cassini mission to Saturn. Additionally, she serves as the President of the Black Excellence Strategic Team, one of JPL’s Employee Resource Groups.
She spends her free time doing outreach for communities traditionally underrepresented in STEM through various organizations such as the Glendale and Pasadena YWCAs, Los Angeles County Engaging Girls in STEM, NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars along with classroom and conference visits for K-12 through university. When she isn’t working, you can find her scuba diving, cosplaying, reading, traveling, playing video games, and enjoying the outdoors.