Friday, January 27, 2017

Dr. Victoria Kaspi - astrophysicist

Last month it was announced that Dr. Victoria Kaspi, astrophysicist, was appointed a companion of the Order of Canada, the second highest award given to a civilian in Canada, for her research on neutron stars and pulsars.

Earlier in 2016, she became the first woman to win the prestigious Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering for her work which has had a tremendous impact in Astrophysics. She and her team of researchers designed complex tests to confirm Einstein's theory of general relativity.

"I know I was meant to do science and if you feel that way, too, then just plow through the cultural biases and express your creativity and scientific ambition."

This quote has struck a nerve with me. At first glance it might appear to be dismissing claims about difficulties for women and POC in STEM fields, but the more I thought about it the more it resonated with me. As an individual, a student in astrophysics can't do a whole lot to change the systemic problems about representation other than call attention to it and demand a change. But change is slow and involves complex actions, none of which that one student can control.

What I read in Dr. Kaspi's advice is for that student to push as hard as she can anyway. It isn't going to change the bigger system, but it will give that student a better chance of at least getting closer to her goal.

What do you think?

To learn more about what she's working on these days.
To read a quick interview with Dr. Kaspi.

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