Major: Physics – Minor: Math and Chemistry –
Bio: Amy was a senior majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics and chemistry. From a young age, I was drawn to the stars, and by the time I was a teenager, I knew that I wanted to study astronomy. Knowing how beautiful and mysterious the universe is, knowing that we are all made of stardust, knowing all humans are more closely related to each other than to any other creature in the universe, made me want to become a scientist so that I can share with others and make new discoveries. My research interests include massive stars, extrasolar planets, the structure of our universe, and educating future generations in science. Education is especially important to me as a first-generation, low-income college student; I was constantly aware of how fortunate I was to be able to study science and conduct research in my field, and I am profoundly grateful for the opportunities I had at Austin College.
Research: I had a wonderful experience at the 2017 Texas Academy of Science meeting. I was nervous before the conference because of anticipation over presenting my research, but during the conference, I felt excited to be there. Attending the talks given at the conference, I gained insight into how other sciences and other departments in my field do their work, and I picked up valuable ideas that I can use in my career, on such topics as science teaching effectiveness. Presenting my honors thesis research as a poster helped me build my communication skills for an audience with varied backgrounds, too, as well as giving me the chance to meet other scientists in my field. One of the poster competition judges in particular really seemed interested in my work; we talked at great length about not only what I’d done, but also ideas for future work, possible theoretical explanations for the behavior of the stars I study, and my future plans in science. We discovered that we both study the same broad category of massive stars despite focusing on different subcategories within it. It was fantastic to talk about the field I love with experts who love the field as much as I do, and share my work with experts outside my field who were interested in learning something new from me. Interacting with so many different people from different fields helped me see my own work in a new way. For any student starting out in research, I would encourage them to talk with their faculty and seek out opportunities to share their work. Research will not always go in the direction you expect, and that’s okay, because you will still find out something that you—and quite possibly everyone—did not know before. By doing research, you discover how to use what you know to find new truths about the world, and by sharing it with others at conferences, you can cultivate your own skills and grow as a researcher by learning from the diverse perspectives of the people you will find there.