Amber K. Lenon

Graduate Research Assistant/Ph.D. Candidate, Syracuse University


Nothing is ever out of your reach. If you need to ask for help, ask.

What do you do?

I am a researcher that studies ripples through spacetime (gravitational waves). Specifically the ones from systems that have elliptical orbits (eccentric binaries). Eccentricity measures how elliptical an orbit is. I do data analysis and parameter estimation of LIGO's public data.

Why did you choose this field?

In high school, I excelled at things that challenged me and physics was that subject for me. I played soccer and attempted to keep good grades. I remember staying after school and meeting with my physics professor to get help with homework. It was one of the only classes that I actually asked for help in. He always made physics accessible and never made us seem stupid for not knowing something. My teacher gave everyone in the class a nickname and all of the homework packets would use the nicknames of students in the problems. He encouraged me to partake in careers that I wasn't necessarily interested in because he knew what I was capable of.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I generated the detection plot for LIGO's second detection. The plot shows how significant the detection is.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love challenging myself every time I encounter a new problem. Since I spend most of my time coding, I need to come up with new and unique solutions to each coding problem I encounter. I have been kept awake because I couldn't figure out how to solve the problem or woken up in the middle of the night because of solutions to my problems.

Best advice for next generation?

Nothing is ever out of your reach. If you need to ask for help, ask. Find someone who will support you no matter what. Those people make a huge difference.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“Never be limited by other people's limited imaginations.” — Mae Jemison

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