Physicist, The University of Texas at Arlington
We are currently working hard to ensure STEM is a safe place for everyone, and slowly but surely it will be.
WHAT DO YOU DO?
I study a particle called the "Neutrino." This particle is really strange since it rarely interacts with matter, hence its nickname, the "ghost particle." I am trying to understand why it acts so weird by searching for a theorized decay.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?
When I stumbled upon particle physics by accidentally signing up for a physics camp, I hadn't taken a single physics class in high school, so I had no clue what physics was about or what physicists did for a living. At the time, I knew I wanted to do something hands-on, which is why I opted for engineering. But once I got a taste of physics and research at the camp and as an intern in my current lab, I felt almost "at-home." I had so many questions but some of the questions lacked answers. Now, trying to answer those questions became my job!
WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"
As a kid, I thought someone had to get a doctorate before starting research and becoming and scientist. I always wanted to be a scientist, but I didn't think I could ever be one because I wasn't "smart" enough. I am already considered a scientist yet I lack a degree. I became a scientist even though I failed my AP science exams in high school and struggle in math. Now, I know that my grades or "smarts" will never define me. If I would have known this earlier, I could have grown up knowing that my dream was within my reach and that my dream could become my reality.
WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?
I love having the opportunity to answer questions that lack answers! It's the best part of my job. Not only am I learning, but I can teach others something through my research. In STEM, I can be a part of something bigger. Every time I learn something, I am able to contribute to my research group, my collaboration, and the entire field of physics! A lot of things are not well understood and it has become my job to try and understand those things.
BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?
It will be hard. Not just because STEM is rigorous, but there will be a lot of obstacles put in your way since you are a girl. There might be more obstacles based on the color of your skin. But keep in mind that STEM is slowly becoming more inclusive. We are currently working hard to ensure STEM is a safe place for everyone, and slowly but surely it will be. However, we can't promise it will be perfect and or easy. Although it will be hard, it is not impossible. Nothing is impossible for those who strive to learn and do their best. Do not let anyone take away your love for STEM.
INSPO / FUN FACT
"If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits" -Dan Ward