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I grew up in Pittsford, NY, a quaint suburb outside of Rochester, where people are encouraged to look up because the skies are clear. I first fell in love with astronomy as a hobby when I was forced to chart the phases of the Moon from my driveway for an 8th grade science project. I fell in love with astronomy as a career because I had exceptional early mentors in the field (Prof. Eric Blackman at the Univ. of Rochester, Prof. Julia Lee at Harvard-CfA and Prof. Jim Elliot at MIT). I graduated from MIT in 2008 with a double degree in Physics and Biology. I am currently pursuing my PhD with Prof. Edo Berger on short gamma-ray bursts at Harvard University, where I have fallen in love, perhaps permanently, with observational astronomy.
Within the Harvard astronomy department, I am strong proponent of the academic and personal well-being of graduate students, because happier graduate students will always make for a better department. With this ostensibly simple concept in mind, in 2011, I created a peer mentorship program for incoming first-year graduate students. Currently, I am working with Alicia Soderberg, Ruth Murray-Clay, John Johnson, and Anjali Tripathi to create a faculty mentorship program for older graduate students. I hope that someday such mentorship programs will become "the normal" for all academic working environments.
When I am not at the office or a telescope, I like to experiment in the kitchen, read non-fiction, tend to my blossoming indoor vegetable garden, travel/hike around the globe, and learn photography.
S. lycopersicum indoor garden, October 2011