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Career Goal: Astronomy professor
Her Story: Sierra Grant discovered astronomy during an independent study senior year of high school. She chose U-M because she could try astronomy, but knew every department would be strong if she changed majors. She decided on astro and never looked back. “I get to apply math and physics to the study of stars,” she says. “Astronomy brings everything I enjoy together.”
How She Started Research: After interviewing Professor Calvet for the Women in Science and Engineering Program, Sierra asked if she could work with her. “I was a complete novice; I was just starting my first astro class,” she says, “but Professor Calvet took me on, integrated me into her research group, and taught me programming and research techniques.” Sierra’s been working with her ever since and hopes to have a paper ready for publication before she graduates.
Astro 461: “This class was incredible,” says Sierra. “We did everything we’d do as practicing astronomers, including writing research proposals for a mock time-allocation committee. It was also a great complement to the research I do here, where I’m looking at data someone else has collected. At Kitt Peak, I used the telescope to collect the data myself. This really made me appreciate the process.”
Sierra is currently a graduate student in the Boston University Department of Astronomy and Institute for Astrophysical Research. Current research interests revolve around protoplanetary disks and their evolution. You can read more about Sierra's research on her website.