UC Berkeley Space Sciences Lab
My name is Hazel and I am a Scottish solar physicist. At least, that's my day job. After work, I love going for a cycle, playing soccer or throwing myself down a mountain on a snowboard.
I didn’t actually set out to become a space scientist. When I was younger, I had an interest in so many things, mostly sports and science related. In school, I enjoyed Math, Physics, Chemistry, and thought computer programming was cool, but I also loved sports. I was the captain of the netball team (netball is a bit like basketball), I trained for a season with the Scottish under-18 National Soccer team and even had dreams of being a professional badminton player for a while.
In school, I had always took classes that I really enjoyed. When it came time to apply to University, I had a choice to make – science or sports. In the end, I decided the best idea was to study science but to keep being sporty and adventurous in my spare time.
Although my undergraduate and postgraduate courses took up a lot of my time, I still made sure to join the University Surf Club and go mountaineering in the Scottish Highlands.
What got me interested in Solar Physics was a summer project I did while I was at University. I was looking at “Supra Arcade Downflows” which are nicknamed “Solar Tadpoles”!
A large part of my day is spent at my computer where I download and analyze images from telescopes in space and on the ground. In particular, I get to work with the really cool new data we’re getting from NASA’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory!
However, it’s not just about sitting in front of a computer. It’s also important to spread the word about my work and my results. This means writing papers for other scientists to read, and traveling around the world to conferences and workshops where scientists gather together to talk about their progress. In the last few years I’ve visited countries such as Germany, Sicily, Japan and China - definitely a perk of the job ;-)