I grew up in the US, where I went to public (free) school: I was a Diamondback (a desert rattlesnake!) at Garden Lakes Elementary School, then a Knight at Westview High School, both in Arizona. In 2009, I moved to California for my bachelor’s degree at the California Institute of Technology. I moved again in 2013, this time to Ohio, where I got my PhD from The Ohio State University in 2019.
No GCSEs or A-levels. We don’t have them in the US! 🙂 Probably the closest is that I was a National Merit Scholar based on pre-university examinations.
BS in Physics
PhD in Astronomy
Each summer during university, I stayed at uni to do research on how planets formed. When I moved to Ohio for my PhD, I switched to do research on dwarf galaxies and dark matter.
I am currently an astrophysicist at the University of Surrey. I’m what they call a “postdoc”—I’ve gotten my doctorate (PhD) and am continuing doing my own research while befriending new scientists all over the world to do cool new science with, teaching university students about science and research, and leading a group of budding new researchers I’m training. I’m hoping to become a lecturer/professor at a university one day.
University of Surrey
I’m an astrophysicist and a desert girl! I was born in Korea, grew up in the US, in sunny Arizona, then moved to the UK three years ago. I live near London with my husband and two cats. I love supercomputers, long afternoons curled up with my cats, growing plants, and being outdoors (e.g. backpacking, skiing, paddling).
My pronouns are:
I’m an astrophysicist at the University of Surrey. I simulate the smallest galaxies in the universe inside supercomputers to try and figure out what dark matter is!
We don’t know how small the smallest galaxies in the universe are. As computers get more powerful and we run better simulations, we keep finding smaller and smaller galaxies. This is really exciting because the size of the smallest galaxies can tell us a lot about this mysterious stuff in the universe called dark matter. I’ve helped simulate some of the smallest galaxies we’ve ever created.
My Typical Day:
When I get up, I go outside and water my plants (tomatoes, lettuce, squash, herbs), then get ready for work. I get to work around 9am, where I check up on the simulations I’m currently running, and do analyses on the ones that are done. Some of my simulations can take months (if not over a year) to finish, even though I run them on powerful supercomputers! I also meet with my students and other scientists from all over the world. I go home around 6pm and relax by curling up with my cats and husband.
On the weekends, I like to do a lot of cooking! I like to experiment with new ingredients, cuisines, and recipes, especially vegetarian (and a slowly increasing number of vegan) ones. I’ll freeze what I make and then heat them up again for quick and easy dinners after work during the week, when I’m usually too tired or busy to cook.
I also use the weekends to catch up on gardening projects or go on adventures, like long, all-weekend walks, bike rides, or visits to nearby cities. I’m hoping I can travel more now that the lockdowns are over!
What I'd do with the prize money:
At the university where I work, we have a fairly big telescope that lives inside a dome with a moving roof! Anyone can come use it during our Astronomy Evenings. I would use the money to make sure it stays in tip-top shape and can be used by everyone for years to come.
What is your favourite fact about space?
The universe is fractal!
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
tiny galaxy simulator
What did you want to be after you left school?
An astrophysicist---as someone who was shy, the loneliness and complexity of faraway planets and galaxies called out to me.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
My twin and I switched places on April Fool's Day...
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
There's tons of things I'd like to do! Growing up, I wanted to be a writer or a ballet dancer for a long time. But now I like designing things---maybe I'd go into graphic or web design.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
What's your favourite food?
해물순두부찌개 (haemul soondubu jjigae) = Korean seafood tofu soup
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
To speak cat. More time. Job security.
Tell us a joke.
I have a pencil once owned by Shakespeare… Thanks to the cat it’s so chewed up I can’t tell if it’s 2B or not 2B.