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Lisseth Gavilán

Lisseth Gavilán

Hubble Heritage Intern: Summer 2005
Carleton College, MN

Being one of the STScI 2005 summer students and working with the Hubble Heritage team is a thrilling and rewarding opportunity. That is why I came to Baltimore all the way from Northfield, Minnesota, where I had just finished my sophomore year and declared a major in physics with a concentration in educational studies at Carleton College. While at Carleton, I work for the community service organization (called ACT) where I am in charge of publicity and its website.

Despite the fact that Peru, my home country, has underdeveloped technologies in public universities and schools, science has always surrounded me. Both my parents majored in electronic engineering, yet my mother publishes Peruvian history books and my father is a high school math teacher. My parents' love of science had always been contagious and since middle school, I have had fond memories of my dad talking about Maxwell's equations as opportunities to have science classes in middle school were limited.

After receiving a scholarship to attend the British high school Markham College, in Lima, I was able to fulfill this initial curiosity. My interest in the physical sciences developed further when I entered the International Baccalaureate diploma programme there. This programme required taking three advanced, higher-level courses. I had my first go at science classes there and chose chemistry, physics and mathematics. I realized that I was into astrophysics and optics while taking the special options offered in IB higher-level physics.

Apart from what I learned during the IB programme, I was also very inspired by one of the extracurricular clubs I was part of, the Duke of Edinburgh's international award. For that activity, we had to lead and plan intense hikes to the Peruvian Andes. A classmate also carried a telescope from the school and at night, having a clear sky, we could get remarkable sights of the dense Milky Way and southern sky constellations. I discovered how fascinating sky watching could be. This is one of the factors that led me to join the physics and astronomy department at Carleton, where I was admitted as a Kellogg international scholar.

The sky from the Andes mountains

Last year I organized lessons for the Math and Science Girl Scout day, preparing materials on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn. After the summer with the Heritage team I will be working on a special project leading to the enhancement of Carleton's Goodsell Observatory’s website and learning tools at the college.

Apart from hikes and science, I enjoy visiting my family, music, poetry and photography. I plan to pursue a PhD after I obtain my BA, either in Science Education or Physics. I also hope to bring back some of these skills to my home country, where the communication of science to the public has been overlooked for a long time.