A student's journey from solving math problems in her dad's car to a successful researcher at UCSC

About this Fireside Chat:

Are you interested in graduate school? How about Astronomy? This unique STEMCasts® episode investigates the student’s perspective. Emily Cunningham, graduate student at UC Santa Cruz, shares her experience in pursing a PhD. In addition, Emily explains cool facts for the viewers, such as how the Keck and Hubble Space Telescope work, how to measure the motion of stars, and how the Milky Way was formed.

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  • Deciding on a career
  • The essence of research is about doing science.
  • Taking a break from school to spend a year in Paris.
  • The path to becoming the expert.
  • How the Milky Way was formed
  • Motion of stars

Target Audience:

  • Anyone interested in Astronomy
  • Anyone interested in pursuing graduate school


Details of the full Fireside Chat (https://youtu.be/XXAW7yUT7wU):

  • Emily’s STEM journey (8 mins)
  • Emily’s path into astronomy and graduate school (4 minutes)
  • National Science Foundation (2 mins)
  • Emily’s graduate school interviews (2 mins)
  • Emily’s research (3 min)
  • Galaxies, dark matter, and the milky way (3 mins)
  • How to measure the motion of stars (4 mins)
  • The PhD experience (4 mins)

Meet the Guest:

Emily Cunningham is a graduate student at UC Santa Cruz pursing a PhD in Astronomy. Her parents, both professors, fueled her interest in STEM while quizzing her on math problems during childhood car rides. These conversations stimulated her interest in problem solving and began her passion in STEM. In between undergrad and graduate school, Emily studied Astronomy abroad in Paris for one year.
Chat hosted by Raja GuhaThakurta, Professor, UC Santa Cruz.

Preview (5mins):

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