What do you do?
I study space volcano dust using codes that simulate how light scatters off of particles. My goal is to figure out what's coming out of geysers on Enceladus (one of Saturn's moons) to determine if there could be life there.
Why did you choose this field?
I went to cooking school actually before college because I thought that's what I wanted to do. However, I have always loved math, and I also got really into seventies rock music which is full of themes of outer space. I decided to take a chance and combine my love of math and space so I majored in astrophysics in college. I loved it way more than I expected and now this is what I do.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
I interned at a national lab the summer before going to grad school and won a poster competition there. I loved my project because it was all about how the moon formed, and just the fact that all these insanely decorated scientists and colleagues that I looked up to were interested in my research and what I had to say was a life-changing moment.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I like the fact that you get to be surrounded by people with so many shared niche interests all the time. Also, that everyone you know has something new to teach you. Even if it may seem completely irrelevant to my project, I'm often surprised how often their knowledge comes in handy.
Best advice for next generation?
As cliche as it sounds, I would say to not care so much about what other people think. Impostor syndrome is real, and being in a male-dominated field definitely comes with its drawbacks. However, my best friends are all women in STEM and they are the strongest people I know. You just need to find your supporters and tune out all the noise.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
"The master has failed more times than the beginner has tried.”- Stephen McCranie