In June, Erukhimova was appointed as the inaugural holder of the Marsha L. ’69 and Ralph F. Schilling ’68 Chair for Physics Outreach, established in November 2021 by the Schillings due in large part to their admiration for Erukhimova and her devotion to physics education and outreach. With their second chair created within Texas A&M Physics and Astronomy, the couple wanted to support Erukhimova’s efforts to encourage interest in the same type of STEM careers that Ralph Schilling himself forged — 34 years creating and constructing space systems, from technical contributions to two of NASA’s Great Observatories to its most recent crown jewel, the James Webb Space Telescope.
While Erukhimova acknowledges that being an ambassador for science and Texas A&M created some degree of pressure, she describes it as a privilege to work with such a professional JHud team and wonderful host in Hudson. Ultimately, she sums up her recent Hollywood experience as somewhat overwhelming but highly rewarding.
“I made some nontrivial requests, such as finding me liquid nitrogen and creating a big mess on a beautifully arranged show stage,” she added. “The team helped in every step and made it all happen.”
In addition to a signature Texas A&M experiment featuring a big cloud — the one that created the aforementioned big mess — Erukhimova says she and Hudson paired up to showcase potato physics experiments, carbon dioxide bubbles and the bike wheel gyroscope.
“The audience was warm and responsive, although physics is certainly not something that you encounter in such shows often,” Erukhimova said. “They really enjoyed the experiments and were very enthusiastic. It was effortless to connect with them. It showed me what I already knew from our previous outreach projects: People will respond wonderfully and enthusiastically to science if you have the right tools and find the right way to explain even complicated concepts.
“Looking back, it was a one-of-a-kind, unforgettable experience.”
See a related recap, Meet Texas A&M Physics Professor Dr. Tatiana Erukhimova, from The JHud Show.