What do you do?
I do research on the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system. I focus on a type of planet called "Hot Jupiters" which are gas giants that orbit very close to their host stars. By combining atmospheric models and observations, I learn about the composition and atmospheric patterns of the planets.
Why did you choose this field?
When I was younger, I went to space camp a few times and wanted to be an astronaut. As I grew older, I really enjoyed my math and physics classes and wanted to become a professor. I didn't decide I wanted to be an astronomer until college when I had a summer research at an observatory. I remember looking at Saturn's rings through a telescope for the first time and being blown away. I had never stopped being interested in space and it wasn't until then that I realized I could study space as my job.
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
I recently submitted my first astronomy paper on my research to a journal. In it, we look at a planet that's VERY hot (well over 1000 C/2000 F) and with winds of order a few km/s! Younger me would have thought it was the coolest thing ever (present-day me mostly agrees with her ).
Why do you love working in STEM?
Space is such an interesting puzzle. It's so big and holds so many secrets, you can't help but be in awe. I love doing work that helps us uncover these complexities and understand better what all is out there.
Best advice for next generation?
Don't be afraid to ask questions, especially in your classes. Identifying what you don't know is such an important step of learning.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
"We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but it is somewhat beauty and poetry." - Maria Mitchell, Astronomer