T e r r y  K u c e r a
Solar Physicist
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

I took all the standard college prep classes, including math and science. I liked my history and literature classes as much as the science ones, though. My parents encouraged my interest in science. I remember my mom saying that she had always liked physics class because it was like doing puzzles. My dad is also a scientist (a chemist), and he was always cutting out astronomy articles he thought I might like to read (He still does this, as a matter of fact).

When I started college (at Carlton College, in Minnesota) I didn't know what I wanted to major in, although I think most of the people who knew me figured I'd go into science. I did very well in my first physics class (a feat never to be repeated) and enjoyed it. I kept taking physics and ended up majoring in it.

I still was not sure what I wanted to do, but I thought as long as I was considering going to graduate school, I'd go ahead. I decided to enter the U. of Colorado Department of Astrophysical, Planetary, and Atmospheric Sciences because, hey, I was interested in all those things and couldn't go too far wrong.

I started out taking atmospheric science classes, but then I heard from another graduate student that there was a professor looking for a student to work with radio data from the Sun. That sounded interesting - I wanted to work with data and the Sun seemed to combine my interests in both astronomy and the Earth. I was planning on doing my thesis on the Sun's "quiet" corona, but a number of big solar flares occurred while we were collecting the data. The flares made it impossible to do the original project, so I ended up studying the flares instead!

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