I'm a graduate student at the University of Chicago, working under Dr. Harper. That
means I'm working to get a PhD degree and become a Dr. myself! On the KAO project, I've
been involved in nearly every aspect of our part of the operation, from the design and
testing of the detector system to the creation of the computer software with which we
analyze our data. On these flights, I'll be spending most of my time making and
displaying the accumulated images we get of the objects at which we look.
What I believe first interested me in astronomy was a partial solar eclipse that
happened when I was 4 years old. My mother made a pinhole eclipse camera, and I was
fascinated by the image of the moon partially covering the sun. Very quickly thereafter I
started learning the names and shapes of the constellations, and staying up for meteor
showers and lunar eclipses, even when I wasn't supposed to--when I was 9 I secretly built
myself an alarm clock to wake me up at 4 am for a lunar eclipse. When my parents saw how
interested I really was, they encouraged me by buying me a small telescope, through which
I first saw the rings of Saturn and the moons of Jupiter, as well as every Messier object
(those 'M' things) one can see from the bright skies of the suburbs of Grand Rapids, MI!
In high school I took all the math and science classes that were offered, and majored in
physics and mathematics at Calvin College. The professors there told me I ought to go on
to graduate school, and so here I am.
In my spare time I enjoy riding my bicycle--in fact, I bike to work every day--and
playing volleyball. I also do crossword puzzles and play board games; once in a while, I
still get up before dawn to see Mercury or Venus, or catch a lunar eclipse or meteor
shower in the middle of the night. And, at least when I'm in New Zealand, I like to jump
off of bridges tied to the end of a bungi cord!