Brad works on OzDES, which is the Australian DES collaboration that uses the 4-meter AAT telescope at Siding Spring Observatory to obtain spectra and measure redshifts of objects discovered by DES. His interests are in exploding stars known as supernova – what stars blow up as supernova and how they blow up. He is also interested in very early-time observations (within an hour) of the supernova explosion when you can see the shockwave rip through the star before it explodes. He also is interested in studying the galaxies that host supernova and how the environment affects them.
We asked Brad a few more questions — here’s what he had to say:
What is your favorite part about being a scientist?
When you discover something new, and you realize that you are the only person in all of human history that knows it – that is an awesome feeling.
When did you know you wanted to be a scientist?
I never wanted to be a scientist growing up. When I was really young, I wanted to be a garbage truck growing up (the actual truck, not the driver). When I was looking at colleges, I was going to go to the Military Academy at West Point, then changed my mind and went to study to become a Catholic Priest. I changed again and then ended up in science!
Do you have any hobbies or play any sports?
I play a lot of soccer. I also enjoy working on my 1968 Volkswagen Beetle, gardening, and doing catering / large amounts of cooking (my wife and I catered our own wedding). I also like winning competitions on radio stations and going on game shows 🙂
What is your favorite space-related image, and why?
The Hubble Space Telescope image of supernova 1994D. A great example of showing how bright exploding stars can be!
What is your favorite book, movie, and/or TV show?
For TV shows, I just finished watching Breaking Bad and am now watching the Walking Dead. Given it is the Christmas season, my favorite Christmas movie is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Do you have kids? Do they want to be scientists too?
Yes, I have 1 son who is 2 years old. I am not sure he knows what he wants to be yet, but some of his first words were “Moon” and “Stars”. His name is also Orion (my wife is an Astronomer and a Medical Doctor) 🙂
Any advice for aspiring scientists?
Make sure you are enjoying what you are doing. You will always do the best at what you enjoy. Also, don’t be afraid to change your mind or try something different, you may never know what you’ll find.