Ravi works in the Supernova Group and researches the galaxies that host Type Ia supernovae. He’s currently writing a paper on host galaxy identification, which is an important issue for DES: since we will not have the resources to spectroscopically classify all our supernovae, we rely mainly on photometric classification of supernovae using light curves along with the host galaxy redshifts. He’s also interested in the progenitors of Type Ia supernovae and correlations between supernovae and their host galaxies.
We asked Ravi a few more questions – here’s what he had to say:
What is your favorite part about being a scientist?
We get to probe fundamental questions that people have wondered for centuries, like what is the origin of the cosmos and how did we get here? And being at the forefront of research, we get to see images and learn things that no human has ever seen or known before.
When did you know you wanted to be a scientist?
As a kid, I actually wanted to be a paleontologist. This decision was based mostly on my love of dinosaurs. However, when I learned that being a paleontologist is really more about tedious, painstaking, backbreaking work, my interests shifted toward physics. By middle school I was fairly set on physics, but it wasn’t really until the discovery of dark energy in 1998 that I narrowed in on astrophysics.
What motivates / inspires you?
People who love what they do for a living and don’t just confine their work hours to 9-5. I really admire those folks. Also, I have to thank my many teachers over the years for inspiring me, sparking my interest science, and instilling in me an appreciation for the arts. Better scientists (and better people!) come from better teachers.
Do you have any hobbies or play any sports?
I enjoy playing soccer and ping-pong. I had a stint in grad school where I played ice hockey, but sadly, that ended when I broke my ankle during a game =(. I also love music and play piano, violin, and guitar. When I have more free time, I like to draw and paint.
What is your favorite book, movie, and/or TV show?
Favorite movie: This one’s easy — Back To The Future. It’s got a bit of everything and I’m a sucker for time-travel movies.Favorite TV show: Probably a tie between The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The X-Files, and Breaking Bad.Favorite Book: Don’t really have one, but I’m a fan of Mark Twain, Kurt Vonnegut, and John Steinbeck. If I had to pick one, it’d probably be To Kill A Mockingbird (I haven’t read the “sequel” yet and I’m a little scared to!)
If you weren’t a scientist, what would your dream job be?
Probably a musician (if I were good enough!) Any advice for aspiring scientists? Do your homework. And don’t take “no” for an answer.