PhD student, in Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Arizona

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Do not let anyone else define who you are and what you can do.

Ragadeepika Pucha

What do you do?

I am a budding astrophysicist. My research is related to dwarf galaxies and black holes. I am trying to answer the big questions in the universe in as many small ways as I can.

Why did you choose this field?

Astronomy has always been a field that inspired me. It was in my eighth grade or so, when I first found that even after thousands of years of human scientific exploration, we have learned about only ~4% of the universe - 96% is still in the dark. That was one of the things that brought my attention to astronomy. The grandness of the universe shows us how insignificant we are. At the same time, I believe that even in this insignificant life, we are all born to make some difference in this world, in any small way we can.

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

The experience that made a significant impact in my life was getting accepted for an internship at Max Planck Institute in Germany. This was an achievement that I did not think was possible. The three month internship helped me learn a lot, both personally as well as professionally.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love working in STEM mainly because everyday feels like an adventure. We are trying to learn something new everyday, some of the things so unique and amazing, that it feels like we are leaving a mark on this world.
Each day, I look forward to understanding a small part of this universe. It is hard work, and some days, it can get frustrating. But, when I find answers, it is the best feeling in the whole world. The adventure never stops and each day I am learning something new, both about myself and about the universe.

Best advice for next generation?

I always believed in doing one's duty. We should not aim for results, we should aim for pursuing our duty. If we do that, results will follow as every action leads to a reaction. This would be my advice for the next generation of girls in STEM as well.

Being part of STEM, we are trying to create and learn something new everyday. One of the important things to learn is being true to yourself and learn to inspire yourself in the face of hardships. Do not let anyone else define who you are and what you can do.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"Accept your past without regret,
handle your present with confidence, and
face your future without fear"

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