Under the direction of faculty mentors Margaret Hanson, PhD, and Mike Sitko, PhD
Why did you opt to do undergraduate research?
After a career as a planetarium director for many years, creating Imax-sized digital astronomy films, I decided that the amazing discoveries in astronomy and space science were too exciting. I decided to go back to school to pursue a career in astronomical research. Astronomy is going through a “golden age” of discovery, where incredible new discoveries are being made every day.
What’s the best lesson you’ve learned?
If research teaches you anything, it’s patience. You can always plan on things not going as planned. Spending time anticipating what problems might come up before you start—and devising workarounds—can really help in progressing through the experiment. Also, take the time you think it will take to do an experiment, quadruple it, and then you’re only going to be off by half or so. In the end, the final product will be worth it: your own creative contribution to helping solve a scientific mystery!
What advice would you give to other undergraduates thinking about getting involved in research?
Talk to your professors about research opportunities in your department, and start doing research as soon as you can. Also, check the listing of summer research opportunities at other universities throughout the country that are offered each year by the National Science Foundation. You’ll get to visit great places over the summer, meet new people and really hone your research skills.
After graduating in June, it looks like my wife, my new baby and I will be moving to Tucson, Ariz., the hub of a lot of astronomical research and the home of the University of Arizona.