My Field of Science Education
When your entire family is in the academic domain, it ends up being something that you can hardly resist when you grow up. This was true for my childhood in a very intense way. My mother was a university professor while my father worked as a researcher in a government-sponsored laboratory. My parents were incredibly keen on science in any shape and form, not just their fields. Additionally, both of my grandparents were also academic employees. They all lived and worked in a small town with a huge university, so in many ways, they simply mingled with their own peers from one generation to the next.
But, because of the wide selection of education choices in my family, covering things ranging from astronomy and other natural sciences, but also history, music, and arts in general, I was always under a lot of influences. There was not any disharmony in the family about this, but being that I was an only child in the entire family, naturally everyone gravitated towards me and tried both to teach me something from their field and allow me to have fun.
Thanks to this, growing up was incredibly interesting and there was never a dull day. Naturally, this left a mark on my own decision when it came to the choice of the profession I would like to pursue. No one in my family felt the need to pressure me into one science area or another. The same was true for those family members who were active in the domain of the arts. When it came to the choices about my future, I was left to my own devices and I am still incredibly grateful for this – my parents, but grandparents as well, allowed me to make my choices.
That is why I chose the domain of astrophysics.
In this field of science, I found an element that easily combined all the inspiration that I took from arts and all the hard science I wanted as well. Space, as a giant, unthinkable mystery, always provided me with a feeling of wonder, while a chance to discover its secrets for the good of the entire society was something I could not miss out on. I began my education in this field and quickly finished it as the top student in my class. Others might expect that a graduate in a position like that would decide to continue working in the same university by getting a grant and focusing on their chosen field. I, however, had something else in mind and that thing was travel.
I always dreamt of seeing the world and all of its exotic and interesting locations. To see the strange and new was something I found in astrophysics, but a chance to travel held the same promise. I took a few months off to figure out how I could combine these two things when I found a non-profit organization that offered its volunteers a chance to travel to places where astronomical observatories have fallen to neglect and there, bring them back to working order. Immediately, I knew this was the exact thing I was looking for and I signed up the very next day.
After a few weeks of preparation
I then headed off to South America and a small observatory high in the Andes Mountains. This was the mid-1990 and my excitement was almost too much for me to handle. My heart was racing in my first trip on the plane and the same feeling continued when I arrived at my post. While I worked there, I also found time to pursue my research into astrophysics. More precisely, the use of light distortion as a means of locating astronomical bodies that cannot be found through the regular means at that time.
There, in the chill air of the Andes, I worked diligently on both of these projects, feeling deep inside that my work, at that time completely unpaid on my end, will one day bring about results.
Twenty years later, parts of my theories that I created there in the Andes became a basis of a successful method that today located more than a thousand planets all over the universe. This will one day mean a lot to our future society and it naturally makes me feel very proud. After South America, I traveled a lot for a couple of years, met my future wife and finally came back to my small university town to start a family. Today, I teach as a part of the wider astronomy and astrophysics department. As I say to my students, it is a perfect life on this planet of ours, surrounded by space and its unending mystery.