Graduate student, astronomy department, University of Arizona

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If you’re passionate about something then you should pursue it.

Samantha Scibelli

What do you do?

As an astronomy graduate student I take classes, attend science talks, and work on research projects. As an astronomer, much of my research time is spent observing with radio telescopes, peering inside dense nurseries of gas and dust prior to the formation of stars.

Why did you choose this field?

Perhaps the particular moment I knew I wanted to study astronomy and physics was when I watched an episode from the History channel show "The Universe" on light speed and learned how it is this ultimate measuring stick used to study the universe. I was hooked! I continued watching shows and reading articles about astronomy and have since worked on many projects in various sub-fields.

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

I was able to obtain an internship at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory while I was in college. I did not think this was possible, but was encouraged to apply to as many internship programs as I could. I also didn't think I would have been able follow through with it, since the internship was during the semester and I needed to miss critical classes. But, I had a lot of support from my the department at my university and WISE (women in science & engineering) program I was a part of.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love STEM because it's challenging and exploratory. It's humbling to realize, "wow I really get paid to study this one aspect of the universe and communicate brand new ideas/findings to the rest of the world." I probably most look forward to writing about my science, and I guess analyzing data is always fun too!

Best advice for next generation?

There is not one piece of advice that is best for everyone, but I was told if your passionate about something then you should pursue it. And that really helped me to keep pushing. Too often I hear "I'm not smart enough" or "This other person is so much better." That is so untrue. Everyone brings their unique perspective to science and being successful in STEM has nothing to do with high test scores or grades.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

"All we need as students is mindfulness. Paying attention is a form of reciprocity with the living world, receiving the gifts with open eyes and open heart.” ― Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

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