Vaishali Parkash ’14 was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to study at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in Germany. She graduated Union summa cum laude, and was recently honored with the Victorian International Research Scholarship to get her doctorate degree in astronomy at Monash University in Australia. She concludes her Fulbright in June and will move to Australia to continue her studies.
Tell us about your research.
I am working with Dr. Frederic Hessman and Dr. Stefan Dreizler at the University of Göttingen in Germany. We are observing transits of Exoplanets using Monet telescopes. I am writing a pipeline code to process and analyze the data/images we receive from the telescope of stars that have candidate or confirmed planets. We observe these stars when it is predicted that the planet will travel between the star and us and therefore cause a decrease in the starlight, which we will be able to measure.
What is your typical day like?
On a typical weekday, I go into the office from 9-5 and work on my research and attend classes and meetings with my research group and adviser. I am attending two astronomy graduate-level classes, which are once a week each. On the weekends, I try to bike down to the city center to go to festivals or events, or cook with my housemates. With my student pass, I able to travel any where in Lower Saxony for free on the train, so during the holiday season, I went to Hamburg and Hildesheim to visit the Christmas markets. I have also been traveling around Europe.
How much does your work there apply to what you learned at Union? Is there anything in particular in classes here at Union that you've found particularly helpful after graduation?
The research that I am currently working on is very similar to the research I conducted with Professor Wilkin after my first year. We observed transit of exoplanets with the Union Observatory. Also, the programming skills I gained from my time at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile on my term abroad and working on my senior thesis really is helping with my research in Germany.