Researcher at the University of Oxford
What does your job involve?
I run a collection of citizen science projects which involve members of the public in the task of trying to understand our Universe. More than 400,000 people have helped us classify galaxies, explore the Moon and even discover planets.
What interested you in working in the space sector?
I’ve always been fascinated by space, from looking up at the night sky to following the robotic exploration of the Solar System.
What do you do in a typical day?
Answer email, read up on the latest discoveries and try to think! I spend a lot of time chatting with colleagues either in person or via Skype as we try to solve problems and develop ideas.
Are there any other interesting aspects to your work?
One of the benefits of being an astronomer is the travel – I’ve spent time on telescopes on the top of Mauna Kea in Hawai’I, and it really is spectacular. I think there’s also something wonderful about doing a job that people are instinctively interested in- everyone I meet has questions about aliens or the fate of the Universe.
What is it about your job that fascinates or inspires you?
The ability to contribute even a little to what we know about the Universe is a huge privilege.
Why is what you do important?
As well as advancing science, our projects give everyone a taste of contributing to discovery. I think that sort of exposure to science is hugely important, and potentially life-changing.
What advice would you give to someone considering a career in space?
Get the best degree you can, and don’t be afraid to talk to people.