Stephanie Bernard, talks about her journey from a child with a dream to be an astronomer to a PhD candidate in the School of Physics.
My parents took me on a trip to the Parkes telescope when I was in year 2 or year 3 of primary school, and after that I was determined to be an astronomer!
In high school, I did my year 10 work experience in the astrophysics group at Melbourne. I really liked the environment and community there, and that definitely influenced my decision to do my undergraduate degree at Melbourne.
As an undergraduate, I got to go to Hawaii and observe on the Keck telescope, one of the largest telescopes in the world, and during my Masters was accepted into a summer school in Rome, Italy where I spent a month learning about galaxies at the Vatican Observatory!
My PhD research is in astrophysics. Specifically, I’m using the Hubble Space Telescope to detect the most distant galaxies known. Studying these galaxies helps us to determine the properties of galaxies in the early universe, and to understand how these galaxies evolve into the galaxies we see in the nearby universe today.
The University of Melbourne has been a really good place for me - I definitely found my undergraduate and Masters study challenging but very rewarding. My research group is extremely supportive, and I feel like I have been encouraged to take all of the opportunities that have come my way.
Between beginning my undergraduate degree and now, I have become much more comfortable and confident at giving talks and meeting new people - this is a big part of doing science, since it's such a collaborative field. I did two research scholarships as an undergraduate and these placements were crucial to the development of my research and computational skills.
Doing a PhD or Masters course is a lot of work and will take up most of your time. Making sure to balance the work side and the social/life side is tricky, but very important!
Read more about Stephanie’s research - Finding a needle in a hay stack.