Shaigh Sisk: Keeping the Wheels Turning in Projects and Pottery

Shaigh Sisk, a woman with curly brown hair pulled back in a braid, smiles joyfully at the camera while holding a large blue and yellow crab in her right hand. She wears a green hat and navy tee, and is kneeling and holding the crab. Other people in yellow and white shirts stand behind her.
Shaigh Sisk, planner and scheduler for the Optical to Orion project in the Laser-Enhanced Mission Navigation and Operational Services (LEMNOS) office, enjoys traveling near water when she isn’t at work.
Credits: Courtesy of Shaigh Sisk

Name: Shaigh Sisk

Title: Planner / Scheduler, Optical to Orion Project, Laser-Enhanced Mission Navigation and Operational Services (LEMNOS)

Organization: Exploration and Space Communications Projects (ESC) Division, Code 450

What do you do and what is most interesting about your role here at Goddard? How do you help support Goddard’s mission?

I provide administrative support to division management and scientists on multiple tasks and projects. I also facilitate and streamline processes for official government travel and government purchases using a government credit card.

What is your educational background? How did you come to Goddard?

In 2017, I earned a bachelor’s degree from University of Maryland University College in environmental management. My dream job through college was to work for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, where I started working in 2017 supporting their education department. In 2019, after a friend who worked at Goddard said how much she loved working here, I came to Goddard into my current position because of greater opportunities.

What is the most interesting work you have done at Goddard?

I started shortly before the COVID shutdown and associated restrictions. I had to navigate the COVID policies in terms of government travel and purchasing, which have changed over the last two years. One benefit is that sorting out these new processes and restrictions have allowed me to work with a great number of people at Goddard.

Shaigh Sisk, a woman with curly brown hair pulled back in a braid, leans to her right to stare intently at a container filled with water and holding a small yellow seahorse. Shaigh wears a green hat and navy tee, and other people are visible sitting behind her. The container with the seahorse takes up most of the image, with the seahorse's delicate spines and curved yellow back fin clearly visible.
Project support specialist Shaigh Sisk provides administrative support to several divisions and tasks at Goddard, helping with things like travel and project management. Her six-word memoir, she says, is “Dive in, the water is great!”
Credits: Courtesy of Shaigh Sisk

Who are your mentors?

Until recently, I directly supported Stephanie Getty, the director of our division. Her position keeps evolving so I have to keep up with her. She is brilliant! She supports so many amazing scientific ventures and is a phenomenal leader. She truly cares about the people in the workforce as individuals.

I was five months pregnant with my first child in March 2020 as we went into lockdown. Stephanie is a great role model, as she is a working mom of two in a leadership position. She is always very understanding about work-life balance and is an inspiration, especially on really hard days, to do your best and keep going forward. She has recommended me for opportunities to consult with other individuals in the directorate’s office to streamline policies and processes relating to travel.

Also, Juri Schauermann, the assistant director, has encouraged me and provided opportunities to work on tasks that continuously improve my skills. Juri creates a work environment that is fun and efficient. She is an amazing female role model balancing a successful career and a family of six. I feel grateful to have her as a supportive mentor but also as a friend.

What do you like most about working at Goddard?

It would be my group of people. Our front office group is very supportive and tight knit. I feel fortunate to work with people who look out for each other, and they are truly my work family The first thing we do Monday morning is catch up with each other as a group to go over what our week looks like and form a game plan. We ask about each other’s weekends, vacations, and children. Aside from everyone being amazing humans, we are all spectacular at what we do and keep the division running super smooth. The culture of Goddard is just unmatched.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

Over the next few years, I want to explore and develop skills in project management. In five years, I want to have gained experience in leading projects and tasks that I am excited about and continue to work with people at Goddard within different disciplines. What I love about my current position is that after only three years, I have been exposed to so many avenues.

Shaigh Sisk, a woman with curly brown hair pulled back in a ponytail, sits at a pottery studio workbench sculpting a ceramic mug, while the sun shines brightly in through the studio door and casts rays across the image. Shaigh wears a dark gray tee and small hoop earrings. The mug in her hands is gray clay, and blocks and rolls of the same clay sit on the bench near her, along with sculpting tools and sponges. Racks with drying pottery in various shades of beige are visible behind her.
Project support specialist Shaigh Sisk creates pottery when she’s not at work. “I love the opportunity that pottery provides to mesh creativity and science,” she said.
Credits: Courtesy of Shaigh Sisk

What are your hobbies?

In my spare time I love spending time at a local pottery studio near my house and creating new forms on the pottery wheel. I hope to one day have my own little pottery studio at my house where I can have a place to be creative and continue to practice a craft I started doing in high school. I love the opportunity that pottery provides to mesh creativity and science. 

After you create your form, it all comes down to chemistry. One of the most interesting examples of chemistry in pottery that I’ve experienced is Raku firing. This is an ancient Japanese ceramics technique that uses a mixture of high heat, combustibles, and starvation of oxygen to create unique and random colors within the glaze depending on how the different elements react.

Where is your favorite place in the world and why?

Anywhere near water. I find water very tranquil and relaxing, and I love how my senses come alive when I’m near it. I’m fascinated with the different ecosystems that exist within and around water. A trip to the state of Washington to see killer and humpback whales swim freely in their natural habitat was an unexplainable experience for me. My travel destinations are always chosen around what aquatic creatures I can interact with. My dream place to visit would be the Galapagos Islands.

What is your “six-word memoir”? A six-word memoir describes something in just six words.

Dive in, the water is great!

Editor’s Note: At the time of this interview, Shaigh worked as a lead project support specialist in the Solar System Exploration Division, and her answers reflect her work at that time. As of February 2023, she now works as the planner and scheduler for the Optical to Orion project in the Laser-Enhanced Mission Navigation and Operational Services (LEMNOS) office, while still supporting the SSED office group.

A banner graphic with a group of people smiling and the text "Conversations with Goddard" on the right. The people represent many genders, ethnicities, and ages, and all pose in front of a soft blue background image of space and stars.

Conversations With Goddard is a collection of Q&A profiles highlighting the breadth and depth of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s talented and diverse workforce. The Conversations have been published twice a month on average since May 2011. Read past editions on Goddard’s “Our People” webpage.

By Elizabeth M. Jarrell
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

First published at

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