A Conversation with …

… Samantha about her research and why she is involved with STEM outreach.

What is your current position?

I’m currently a Physics Graduate Student studying Neutrino Physics at Yale.

Where did you go to college?

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC)

Where did you grow up?

Asheville, NC

What was your favorite subject in high school?

Chemistry, Physics, and History

Who is your STEM role model?

I have so many!

What is the focus of your research?

I study tiny particles called neutrinos. Billions of these pass through you each second. There’re a lot of mysteries about these particles, and understanding them better could answer big questions about other particles and even how the universe was formed.

What is the coolest part of your job?

My two favorite parts of my job as a graduate student are working on experiments and teaching students. I like running experiments because you get to ask interesting questions, design something to try and answer this question, then you sometimes get surprising answers. Right now, I teach a lab course. I enjoy this because I get to help students as they ask questions and then run experiments to try and answer questions about the world around them.

Why did you decide to go to grad school?

I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina, hiking and spending a lot of time outside. Nature was always very beautiful to me. In high school, I first took chemistry and physics, and I started to realize how data could tell us a lot about nature and how things worked. I also joined Robotics club and found that I enjoyed building things too. This eventually grew to me wanting to do experimental physics!

What is your favorite part about doing STEM outreach?

My favorite part of outreach events is when students discover something about the world that they find interesting. Science can take a lot of hard work, but I think it’s also fun and very exciting. Getting to share this excitement with all learners is my favorite part of outreach.

What is a fun fact about you?

The experiments in my field can be very big and have hundreds of people working together on them. I’ve worked on experiments based in California, Italy, Switzerland, and North Dakota. I’ve gotten to visit most of these places too.

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