Astronomer at CosmoQuest at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
I love my job because I get to travel all over the world. I recently went to Chile for the inauguration of the ALMA, built a telescope that mapped the southern hemisphere in South Africa and was at South by Southwest in Austin. I also go to several science-fiction conventions each year to get a new generation of people interested in astronomy.
I knew I wanted to be an astronomer, and that was one of the main reasons I went to Lycoming. Although most of my research was from outside of Lycoming, I was definitely encouraged to find those opportunities while I was there. The liberal arts education gave me a broad range of skills and allowed me to take on leadership roles that I probably wouldn't have been able to do at a larger school.
My advice to future graduates is to keep their options open and be aware of all the different job opportunities out there. Funding for science is tight, so it helps to keep an open mind and cultivate all their skills, whether it be with computers, communication, writing, building or anything else.
My favorite part of the job is when you see someone get that "a ha" moment when a difficult concept snaps into place. Helping people to learn for themselves is the best part of being a science communicator.