I was born in San Francisco, and lived there for five years. I don't have too many memories of my time there, but I do remember my first encounter with astronomy. My parents took me to the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, where I saw Jupiter through a twenty inch telescope named Rachel. It was beautiful, and my name was connected to it.

We moved to the east coast when I entered second grade. Around then, I started watching science shows like NOVA with my dad. We would discuss the episodes topic for up to an hour after watching it, asking one hypothetical after the other. In almost all of the shows, especially those on physics and astronomy, there would be the esteemed professor covering a blackboard in notation, while the narrator explained the concept quickly and simply. I was rarely satisfied by the simple answer, and always wanted to understand the equations and symbols on the board. These factors were the main drive behind my interest in astrophysics.

In sixth grade, the earth science course dedicated two weeks to astronomy; the first covered basic material, and the second was for students to research their own topic. I looked through the bookshelf of astronomy literature and found two wimpy books on black holes. Both contained the same information: a black hole is the result of a large star dying, light cannot escape it, and astronomers are still studying them. I was very disappointed in the lack of information, and embarrassed to present it to the class at the end of the week. I have since presented two more projects on black holes, adding more and more information each time.

I didn't start learning about optics until twelfth grade, in my AP Physics B course. We briefly went over the topic, carried out a few labs, and moved on. At the end of the year, we all conducted a research project. Mine was on theremins, a musical instrument that uses antennae and oscillators to produce sound without touching it. I put together a poster and made my own theremin by adjusting three analog radios. That is just about the extent of my experience with research projects so far, but certainly not the end.

I applied to and enrolled in Stony Brook University because it is close to Brookhaven National Labs, both physically and through various collaborations. Applying to WISE was part of the application process, and when I was accepted, I had no idea how many opportunities would become available. I am enrolled in WSE187, where I will take part in three research projects, including working with the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at BNL. WISE also offered me the chance to enroll in PHY 287, and independent research class specifically focusing on optics and lasers at the campus Laser Teaching Center. I joined thinking that my college research experience has to start somewhere and sometime, so why not here and now?

While I don't plan to specialize in optics and laser, these topics are extremely important in astronomy and astrophysics, from telescopes to spectroscopy to interferometry. Whether I focus on a topic specifically or vaguely connected to astronomy, learning the material, learning how to conduct an experiment, and learning how to present it are my main goals for this course.