Emma M. Louden

Graduate student at Yale University

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If you want to try something, go for it. If you need help, ask.

What do you do?

As a graduate student at Yale I take classes about the foundations of astrophysics that build upon my undergraduate coursework. In addition to the classes, I do research about planets outside of the Solar System—exoplanets! This research can be looking for new planets or characterizing known planets to learn about how they form and which are most common.

Why did you choose this field?

In 8th grade my science teacher, Ms. Duis, taught the class a unit on physics. We talked about Newton’s laws and for the first time I learned about the beautiful intricacies underlying the seemingly simple processes of everyday life. Prior to that, as a little girl, I fell in love with the stars. I spent nights outside looking through a telescope and hours flying cardboard rockets around the living room. The physics unit showed me a way to unite my love for the stars with a newfound passion for describing how the universe works through physics—astrophysics.

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

Last January I attended the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society. I spent a week in Hawaii presenting my research to other astrophysicists and learning from the many talks and posters. It was thrilling to be surrounded by people who little me would never have imagined I would have the opportunity to meet and share my work with.

Why do you love working in STEM?

The beauty of science is what I wake up looking forward to. In a world full of pain and challenge, science is beautiful because it allows us to learn about ourselves and our incredible universe. In addition the technologies and processes from science improve life on a day to day basis and help counteract inequalities so I know my work is part of something that improves people's lives.

Best advice for next generation?

If you want to try something, go for it. If you need help, ask.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“Look at the stars.

It won't fix the economy. It won't stop wars. It won't give you flat abs, or better sex or even help you figure out your relationship and what you want to do with your life. But it's important. It helps you remember that you and your problems are both infinitesimally small and conversely, that you are a piece of an amazing and vast universe.”

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