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Tricia Royle

Tricia Royle

Everyone chooses their life path for a different reason. I chose mine to learn everything I could about the one thing I could never understand fully - the universe and where it came from.

I grew up in a rural area just outside Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and wasused to the nightly display of diamond-like stars in the sky. I had no doubt of the existence of our Milky Way, it was a sparkly swatch across the sky above my backyard, but I didn't fully comprehend what the Milky Way was. And it never really occurred to me that anyone did.

In high school I took just about every type of course one can take: mathematics, physics, biology,chemistry, computers, English, writing, business, fine arts, graphic arts, photography, history, sociology, geography, drafting, housing design... as I said, you name it, I probably took a course in it, graduating with 41 credits, 11 above the necessary 30. In Ontario, you are required to choose a major for University before you are accepted. I couldn't narrow it down, there was just too much I wanted to do.

Tricia Royle

Tricia Royle

Four days before my application was due to the guidance office, I still hadn't chosen a major. I figured it would be a science, but had no idea which one. My Guidance Counselor would just shake her head, telling me I'd never be happy in university with interests as diverse as mine. I sat at home pondering what path my career should follow, what field would keep me intrigued, challenged and always learning. I wanted to know everything there was about the universe... what field could possibly show that? And so I chose to study the universe. Actually I chose to major in Physics and Astronomy, but it was a start. My guidance counselor's reaction - a big smile and reassurance I could do anything I wanted to.

Four years at York University in North York, Ontario led to an Honours B.Sc in Astrophysics. A job with one of my professors at York brought me to the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore for a conference. I ended up working at STScI on a dare with a university roommate - he would apply for a job as an athletic trainer in Hawaii, and I would apply for a job with the Hubble Space Telescope. I got the job... he didn't.

I came to Baltimore in 1997 and have worked as a Program Coordinator the entire time. That professor from York tried to keep me as a graduate student, but knew he couldn't compete with the appeal of the Hubble Space Telescope. I left Canada for, as he put it, "the hot-seat of Astronomy". And he wasn't kidding! Working in the operations division of a major space-based observatory is fast paced and challenging, but I love every minute of it. I saw very quickly that what I'd learned in four years of university was little compared to the science taken with HST in a single day. I worked with people I'd read about in textbooks and then, about a year ago, I started working with people who put pictures in newspapers: Hubble Heritage.