Jane Charlton has been a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Pennsylvania State University since 1992. Her research specialty is mapping the Universe and charting the history of its evolving galaxies. She is also fascinated by quasars, tremendously luminous objects that are driven by gases flowing into supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies. She also studies start formation in the debris from galaxy collisions, and enjoys mentoring undergraduate and graduate students in their research.
Charlton's passion in teaching is online astronomy education to non-science students through video games and a story-based approach. Her online courses have been taken by nearly 20,000 Penn State students. The newest version of her basic astronomy course is an immersive game set in the first Mars colony, from which students explore the planets or our Solar System, fly from star to star, and construct their own universe from elementary particles.