Professor, Physics & Astronomy
Don’t worry about a job – if this is what you want to do, then just try and do it.
What is a typical day like for you?
Most days are spent with 2-3 lectures in physics & astronomy, catching up on marking, some committee work and administrative stuff as department chair. But if I’m lucky there’ll be a tour of the observatory to give, or a bit of time to read some of the astronomy research literature.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Doing astronomy! This could be observing, or reducing data, or even public outreach activities.
What is the least enjoyable part of your job?
No question – marking.
Explain the path you took to get to this job (education, internships, etc.).
Nothing unusual – undergraduate degree, then graduate school and a post-doc year. The job market was not good at graduation so I spent longer than I would have liked in one- and two-year contract teaching jobs before getting a permanent position.
Who or what was the greatest influence that set you on this path?
Growing up at the height of the space race, I think – the Collier’s books by Bonestell and von Braun had a really big influence on me.
What advice would you give others seeking a similar job?
Don’t worry about a job – if this is what you want to do, then just try and do it. Employment will take care of itself.
How does your job make a difference?
Hard to say – it would be nice to think it sometimes gets someone else interested in astronomy and science at large. Maybe it helps to remind people there’s a universe larger than their daily lives?
How do you use science, math and technology in your job?
I use science (as a process, or manner of thinking) all the time; math more as a tool to solve problems, and technology to extend and enhance what can be seen – the telescope is a perfect example.
Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school but didn’t? Why?
I wish I’d taken Latin (or been forced to) but not sure why! More geometry would have been cool, as well.
What makes this job right for you?
The old cliché – someone pays me to do what I love (though at the price of having to other, boring stuff as well).
What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?
A tough one! Maybe hanging from a cable from the lecture room ceiling to be a human pendulum (only to have the cable snap and fall flat on my back)…
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
Build model airplanes, cycle and sail a bit but not enough.
You just won $10 million. What's the first thing you'd do?
Buy a Tiger Moth!