Deborah is an undergraduate student at Austin Peay State University.
For the past two and a half years, Deborah has been working as an undergraduate research intern with Dr. Douglas Tucker at Fermilab, assisting in calibrations for the Dark Energy Survey. Her job is performing reduction and analysis of observed spectra of white dwarf stars, assisting in fitting model spectra to the observed WD spectra, and using IRAF to calculate synthetic photometry of both observed and model spectra of these white dwarf stars. These values are then used to calculate the zeropoint offsets for the survey. Although much of this work is completed independently during the school year at Austin Peay State University, she has spent the majority of the past two summers in residence at Fermilab while engaged in these efforts!
We asked Deborah a few questions, here’s what she had to say…
When did you know you wanted to be a scientist?
I’ve known I wanted to be a scientist for most of my life! When I was little, I would tell my mother that one day, I was going to be an astronaut, and I would ask my father millions of questions about how everything worked–his answer was always: “It’s physics.” Before I began college, I attended the Governor’s School for Computational Physics at Austin Peay State University, and that cemented my decision to follow my dreams and study physics and astronomy at that same school, which ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made!
What motivates / inspires you?
My dad loved science and passed away when I was young, so I’m determined to pursue a career in science and make him proud. I’ve also been in love with the universe and space travel for as long as I can remember, and the idea of one day looking back on the Earth from space motivates me to work as hard as I can to one day make that dream a reality.
Do you have any hobbies or take part in sports?
I love sewing! I hand-sewed Belle’s ballgown from Beauty in the Beast and I wear it to be Belle for princess-themed birthday parties for children. It’s one of my favorite things to do, I love making children smile and getting to be a princess for a day! I also love knitting, embroidering, painting, anything crafty. Making things is so fun.
What is your favorite book, movie, and/or TV show?
I’m big on horror movies. Slither is my favorite movie of all time.
If you weren’t a scientist, what would your dream job be?
If I wasn’t a scientist, I’d want to study literature and poetry. I love, love, love reading. James Joyce, John Keats, and George Orwell are my favorites.
Any advice for aspiring scientists?
Don’t be afraid to ask for opportunities! I’ve been able to do some wonderful things early in my career, and I wouldn’t have had half of them if I hadn’t been determined and ask my professors for available research opportunities. Your professors are there to help you, so make the most of it. And be prepared for some hard work!