When did you become interested in science?
I knew in high school I wanted to study physics in college. I was just interested in why things were the way they were. I liked the idea of being able to explain things in the world from a particular set of principles. I read the kids science books with the little experiments you could do at home. A common one was dropping food coloring onto a piece of filter paper and watching the different colors spread out. I liked that I could do that myself and get the same result as the book – and could give an explanation for why that happened.
What project are you currently working on at the Lab?
Using computer simulations to understand how light is emitted from pulsars – neutron stars that are rotating rapidly and have strong magnetic fields. Pulsars are best known as these cosmic lighthouses because they have regular blips. They are famous from the movie “Contact.” A lot of really interesting objects are really far away. We can’t see the structure. We create computer models and produce predictions on what types of signals we get from these objects. The main challenge is that we need really, really, really big computers. Most of the simulations we run at NERSC or Oak Ridge National Lab.
During Pride Month (June), what would you like those outside the LGBTQ+ community to think about?
All the contributions to society and day-to-day lives by folks in the sexual and gender minority (SGM) community. Alan Turing is one in the science realm. Pride is both a celebration and it is still a fight. There is a lot going on politically and elsewhere. Just because there is same sex marriage nationwide, it certainly doesn’t mean we are done.