Dana Peirce.

Columbia University Department of Astronomy - New York, NY

Project Description

Peter Buck Internship Fund Recipient

As a young girl, I dreamed of being a veterinarian. I had grown up riding horses, and when I was sixteen, I still believed that equine medicine was my ideal job. That changed when I took my first physics class during my junior year of high school. Physics fascinated me. My teacher, Wendy Curtis, revealed the grace and logic that defined even the simplest kinematics equation. The process of learning and discovering captured my attention. Rather than memorizing information, I was asking and answering interesting questions. There was a new ‘why?’ to be explored every day. I had never believed that anything could divert me from my dream of pursuing a veterinary degree, but physics had done it. Ever since that high school class, I have dreamed of conducting physics research. This summer, I will have the chance to do exactly that at Columbia University’s Department of Astronomy.

This experience will be a vital resource in helping me determine my career plans. I will be surrounded by graduate students and scientists who have already chosen their areas of specialization. Their observations about their own paths will undoubtedly help me create a more well-rounded vision of my own future. I will learn how to create a research project, and in doing so experience what graduate school and subsequent jobs might be like. I will gain a new set of research skills, and will incorporate computer science and statistics techniques in an interdisciplinary way.

This internship will be empowering for me as a woman. In my “Quantum Physics and Relativity” class at Bowdoin, there are twenty-one men but only three women. In 2015, Bowdoin graduated just two female physics majors. I would love to one day play a part in changing these numbers. I was fortunate enough to be mentored in high school by a confident woman scientist and role model, Wendy Curtis. I am proud and excited that my primary project advisor at Columbia will also be a woman: Emily Sandford, a third-year graduate student.

I fell in love with physics because I am a problem-solver at heart, and the field of physics provides an infinite variety of problems to be solved. The process of learning and exploring excites me every day. At Bowdoin, I have had incredible experiences in both the lab and the lecture hall, but I have done nothing that can compare to a 10-week independent research project. The knowledge and experience I’ll gain during this internship will build upon what I have learned thus far as an undergraduate, and will better equip me to make the absolute most of my remaining two years at Bowdoin.

Project Details

  • Date September 22, 2017
  • Tags 2017, Buck, Science, Sophomore

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