St Joseph’s Scholars and Postelars were recently treated to a celebration lunch and an inspiring talk by Dr Suzie Imber, Associate Professor in Space Physics at the University of Leicester, who recently won the BBC2 series ‘Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?’.
Suzie explained that she had not been good at everything at school and had had to work hard in subjects that she found more challenging. She related how she had completed her first degree at Imperial College London and went on to undertake a PhD in space physics at the University of Leicester.
She told students how she took up as many interests as possible alongside her academic studies, including high altitude mountaineering, climbing some of the world’s highest peaks, and lacrosse and rowing. These activities honed her team work, leadership and diplomacy skills.
She emphasized that studying science did not necessarily mean sitting at a computer all day and gave examples of her field trips, including her stay in the Arctic for three months during winter to build and run a radar dish.
Her passion for understanding more about space led her to NASA as a research scientist where she has played a key part in building the instruments to bring back data from Mercury for the first time (it will take seven years for the craft to return!).
Suzie’s ongoing research into ‘space weather’ looks at how the changing sun affects Mercury and the impact ‘extreme space weather’ could have on earth and the climate. She and her team hope to send instruments to Neptune and other outer planets in the future. The opportunities for uncovering new data and information about space are endless!