While other people do provide written resources related to the science of the eclipse, I am unique in that I undertake research on the lived experience and psychological impact of the eclipse experience. I also research the process of community eclipse planning.
I started an independent research program on the eclipse experience in 2010, when I applied my expertise in IPA to explore the total solar eclipse experience – an event that is very emotional, and often indescribable. I have since gone on to develop a full research program in eclipses that have led to some high impact and practical resources, including several books, published articles, conference presentations, and an authoritative White Paper.
My eclipse research programme is grounded in the phenomenological approach, and as I am a highly qualified academic with specialist expertise in phenomenological methods, this means that this research is far more rigorous than any journalist simply interviewing people briefly about their experiences.
My eclipse research informs much of the outreach activities and media that I do. Whenever I am delivering lectures, or engaging in the media, I am able to speak not only from my personal experience as an eclipse chaser, but also as a psychologist, and someone who researches the eclipse experience. I have now surveyed and interviewed hundreds of people about their eclipse experience, and can share information at this general level.
I have used my eclipse research programme to inform and develop strategies for eclipse communication, outreach and planning. For example, my research has allowed for a greater clarity in communicating about the eclipse experience. I have also been able to identify communication issues that hinder the awareness of the general community about an up-and-coming total eclipse. Also, my eclipse research has fully informed the guidance on community eclipse planning.
I try to do as much as possible to share my eclipse research – and do this in a variety of formats to ensure I reach a wide audience. As I do my research with no funding, no resources and at my own personal expense, I am limited to what I can do and how I can disseminate my research.
In this section, I will outline the eclipse research projects I have completed, and the projects I am currently working on.