Name: Claire-Elise Green
What is your dream?
My dream is to be a radio astronomer and astrophysicist researching how stars are born. I aim to achieve this dream by completing my PhD in radio astronomy and computational astrophysics at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), co-supervised by the CSIRO. I have about 1 year left of my 3.5 year PhD. For my PhD I am researching star-forming structures within molecular clouds, which are stellar nurseries, in our galaxy, the Milky Way.
Tell us a bit about you.
I grew up on the northern beaches of Sydney, and I went on to complete a Bachelor of Advanced Science, majoring in Physics, at UNSW. At the end of the second year of my degree, I was fortunate enough to complete a summer internship at the CSIRO, researching the hearts of galaxies. I completed an honours year for this degree at UNSW, which was also co-supervised by the CSIRO. After completing my honours year I began my PhD. I am an avid gardener and I love, knitting, crocheting, drawing, reading, and I also do Aikido (a Japanese martial art).
How have you demonstrated commitment?
I spent my summer holidays interning at CSIRO, researching star formation. In my PhD I have taken every opportunity available to me to enhance my scientific skills and share my work. I have entered many science communication-related competitions, and am often the only female participant from physics, and the only astronomy entry. I also had the opportunity to make a research visit to the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn last year where I worked with colleagues to finish another publication presenting the results of my honours project, which was published earlier this year. Furthermore, I am very active in the astronomy community, serving on the Australia Telescope Users Committee, which advises the CSIRO on radio telescopes, and on the UNSW physics school board where my proposal for scholarships for undergraduate women have recently been accepted.
What challenges do you face?
I face two major challenges: funding shortages and working in a male dominated field. I currently hold scholarships for living expenses, but rely on the university for work expenses. I teach multiple UNSW physics courses to supplement my scholarships so I can afford living and work related expenses, avoiding debt. In the final 12 months of my thesis I want to stop teaching so I have more time to prepare publications, and of course, my final thesis.
How will you use the money?
I will use part of the money to go towards replacing the teaching income I will have to sacrifice to complete my thesis. Another portion will go towards attending and presenting my work at the ASA annual general meeting and Harley @ood Winter School in Canberra. I will also purchase additional computer equipment and use the funding for online courses to continue my development in statistics and computer programming.
How do you plan to give back?
With few women in science, and fewer in physics, I would give back to the community as a role model for young women in STEM. My research has great potential to benefit society, not only answering the question we have been asking for centuries of ‘how are stars born’, but techniques developed during my research can also be applied in medicine and emergency vehicle guidance.