What do you do?
I am an astronomy researcher focusing on detecting and characterizing exoplanets (planets orbiting stars other than our Sun). I'm specifically interested in combining detection techniques to maximize our physical knowledge of particular extrasolar systems.
Why did you choose this field?
I always liked math, but before I discovered physics, I didn't realize that you could "use" math for anything besides calculating the length of a telephone pole's shadow. When I took my first physics class in high school, I was immediately hooked. I particularly liked the unit my class did on gravitation, which got me thinking about using physics and math to study space. I applied to college to study physics and astronomy, and the rest is history!
What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?
This isn't science related, but my mental health has come so far in the past few years (thanks, in large part, to therapy). I'm finally able to love myself (mind and body) the way I am. I wish younger me could have known that was in her future.
Why do you love working in STEM?
I love discovering new things about the universe. It's a thrill I can't even describe.
Best advice for next generation?
Be patient with yourself. Perseverance is the most important skill for success in graduate school. "Genius" is a made-up concept to make people feel ashamed for working hard.
Inspo quote / fun fact / role model
"Fear cuts deeper than swords" ~Syrio Forel