I am currently working as a Data Analyst at the Space Telescope Science Institute. I
received a BA Physics from Johns Hopkins in 1994 and am currently working on an MS
Education also from Hopkins. Throughout my undergraduate career I worked part-time at the
Institute on various projects, mostly involving the Ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (UIT).
UIT flew aboard the Space Shuttle in 1990 during the Astro-1 mission and again in 1994
during the Astro-2 mission. The telescope was hoisted above the ultraviolet absorbing
atmosphere along with several other instruments and operated nearly continuously for the
duration of the mission. Upon return to Earth, the photographic plates from UIT were
digitized for use with image processing software.
As an undergraduate, I spent time working with various calibration tasks along with
studies of what the typical shape of a star is on one of these plates. Due to various
observational circumstances, many problems surround the processing of UIT data. Some of
these are due to the difficulty in pointing the telescope and keeping it stable, but most
are due to the problematic scanning and digitizing of the images. Unlike other
astronomical data, which is usually taken with CCD (digital) cameras, photographic data
is subject to the usual problems with film, including scratches, hair, and dust. Also,
film has a much smaller dynamic range than a CCD. So the analysis of a UIT image requires
careful study of these effects beforehand.
Currently, I am working with several UIT images of the M33 galaxy. By comparing the
brightnesses of stars in the ultraviolet with their brightnesses in visible light
(obtained from ground-based telescopes), it is possible to determine the temperatures
and spectral types of these stars. Interesting stars can be submitted as proposals for
study with Hubble Space Telescope.
My interest in astronomy goes back to about tenth grade. I became fascinated with a
book called "Our Universe" by National Geographic. The pretty pictures and interesting
descriptions of the planets made me wonder how people knew all of these things. In
twelfth grade I had the opportunity to take an astronomy class at my high school, and
I really enjoyed it. So when I arrived at Johns Hopkins in the fall of 1990, I decided
to switch my major from computer science to physics.
During my junior year, I studied abroad at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.
They offered a good selection of astronomy courses, and it was also nice to get away from
the big city for a while. During my senior year I applied for PhD programs in astronomy,
but was not successful in securing funding. With several of my friends going into
education, I had some opportunities to get a feel for the classroom. I have since decided
that I want to move into science education, and am thus pursuing the master's degree in
I intend to become a high school physics teacher next year in the private schools
sector. Although I enjoy the intellectual challenge which comes from working in a
research science, I feel that being in the classroom allows me to use my knowledge in a
way which will have a greater positive impact. While as a researcher, I may advance the
knowledge in my particular field, as a teacher, I can impact a great number of students.
If only three or four of my students decide to become scientists I have already had a
greater impact on the future of science than if I had stayed a researcher.
I guess I should say that I had several great high school teachers that really
fostered my interest in science. My parents also supported me by buying me a small
telescope and a computer. I didn't really have any science role models, although I
remember reading Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" my senior year in high
school and wondering when I would have enough physics background to understand it as
he did. Little did I know that learning is a life-long process and that graduating
from Johns Hopkins with a physics degree was just the beginning of my education (in
physics and in life).
Other than my obvious interest in science, I am greatly interested in both music and
sport. I practice the Korean martial art of Taek Won Do on a regular basis, and play
classical and folk guitar. I also enjoy almost any type of outdoor activity, including
hiking, camping, skiing, and mountain biking. As my current research requires extensive
computer work, I enjoy getting outside in the fresh air (of Baltimore!) whenever possible.
To all students, I say that it is a myth that people like scientists have always known
what they wanted to do and have been focused on that since they were small. While this is
true of some scientists (and doctors, and politicians, etc.) I have found that many of my
friends went through college without a clear sense of their future careers. Remember to
enjoy your education and don't focus on any one subject for too long - leave that for
your last couple years of college. Also, don't let anybody tell you that you are
incapable of being what you want to be. Its sounds like something a teacher would say (I
guess I will be one shortly anyway so I am allowed), but with enough hard work, you can
achieve almost anything. Hey, if I made it here, so can you. Trust me.