Monday, January 4, 2016

Wilson Inspired... by the Banneker Institute

Thoughts pondered and experiences gained during my 10 weeks a part of the Banneker Institute summer graduate school preparatory program at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. As the days pass by, I am moving exponentially up the learning curve in regards to my skills in Coding and my knowledge of the Universe. This fact may or may not be discerned in my posts over time. Peruse my posts, Share with others, and Enjoy the read!  "

...was how the previous heading description of my blog went.
I made this blog with the purpose of enhancing my writing skills, discussing the details of my summer research project, and expressing my thoughts about anything my heart desired.  Seeing how it has turned out thus far, I am happy that Harvard professor, Dr. John Johnson, recommended that all of us interns create this blog and write in it as often as possible.

"You might have to follow the advice given in [one] post, which gives you a link to a previously written post that you should read first."


I decided to write about the lessons we learned during the Astro-Statistics class we took that summer.  Occasionally, I discussed my research project as well.  For both of these topics, it was necessary to have them be a continuous series of blog posts.  So, to get the full understanding of some of my posts, you might have to follow the advice given in that post, which gives you a link to a previously written post that you should read first.

This blog has become a hobby that I plan on continuing for years to come.  Most of my future content will be me teaching a scientific concept or talking about an event or person in the scientific community.  As time goes on, I will be writing more material that people outside of the scientific community can understand.  Working for the Adler Planetarium consistently reminds me of how vital it is for astronomers to teach and inform the lay[wo]men about astronomy.  Thus, I will be doing this through my blog as well. 
People who are not as scientifically inclined as the PhD astrophysicists I work with will enjoy these 3 blog posts among others:
( 06-12-15 ) Harvard Colleagues and Friends
Part VII : High Precision Photometry of Transiting Exoplanets as I currently know it
Someone You Should Know: Lauren Woolsey

When I have spare time and an intriguing topic, I will keep writing in this blog because I have already seen how beneficial this has been to my research and personal life.  Considering the intricate code, physics, and mathematics that entail astronomy research, writing the details down in an organized fashion has been a life-saver when I must re-do a procedure or re-calculate something months after doing it the first time.  I have been in this circumstance several times during my 2 years of undergraduate research.  On those days, I always remember to give myself a pat on the back as a way of motivating myself to keep being diligent in my writing.

"With an inspiring leader like Dr. Johnson, it is impossible for interns to walk out of the Banneker Institute the same as they came in."


In regards to my personal life, articulating my thoughts through writing is an empowering experience.  I now understand why many astronomers use this powerful form of communication to organize their thoughts as well as to inform, inspire, and influence the world.  Although people may use their blogs for writing poetry, telling stories, marketing themselves or informing others about scientific results, I am happy that one of the first blogs I have read in my entire life is used for activism towards social justice issues.  The blog I am referring to is Dr. Johnson's.
This guy is a great role model for the newest members of the astronomy community as well as the oldest.  This is true in regards to the diligence and intelligence necessary for scientists to conduct excellent research as well as the patience and open-mindedness necessary to form healthy collaborations amongst scientists of various nationalities, ethnicities, and ... well ... genders too (because according to current statistics, white men are appallingly over-represented in the astronomy community and thus often lack the experience of working with others of a different background than theirs).  I am sure that if you visit Dr. Johnson's blog, you will see why he is such a well-respected and powerful figure in the astronomy community.  Moreover, you will get a glimpse of why his internship, the Banneker Institute, is one of the most unique experiences a summer intern can have. 

With an inspiring leader like Dr. Johnson, it is impossible for interns to walk out of the Banneker Institute the same as they came in.  Because of the Banneker institute, I am sure that NO hardships of graduate school will halt my relentless pursuit for the PhD.  Thanks to the Astro-Statistics class, my computer programming skills have drastically improved.  Furthermore, my public speaking skills have skyrocketed after being taught the art of elocution by Professor Johnson and his colleagues while also delivering a talk to my peers every 2 weeks.  And last but not least, my mind has been enlightened to the intrinsic, yet subtle, injustices and prejudices that currently plague the science community.

My time as a Banneker Institute Fellow may have ended, but I will certainly remain an affiliate of the program and support other interns as more arrive summer after summer.

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