What Does It Take To Become an Astrophysicist?


In our latest blog post we take a look into astrophysics and talk to Dr Jen Gupta, an astrophysicist and science communicator who’ll be joining us at the upcoming STEM Festival.


First of all, you may be wondering, what is astrophysics?

Astrophysics is a type of space science that applies the laws of physics and chemistry to explain the birth, life and death of stars, planets, galaxies, nebulae and other stuff in the universe. It’s also closely related to astronomy and cosmology.

If you’re interested in space science and are planning to attend the upcoming Peterborough STEM Festival 2016, you will have the opportunity to witness Dr Jen Gupta present her talk, “The Invisible Universe”. She will delve into the wondrous night time sky revealing how what we see is just a small part of the story and how the Universe is aglow with ‘light’ that we humans just cannot see.

Q. What advice would you give to others wanting to follow in your footsteps?
JG: Study science, especially physics and chemistry and get as much experience with advanced mathematics as possible. When you’re ready to go to university, undergraduate degrees in astrophysics aren’t common, so as an alternative I’d recommend studying physics or astronomy. Courses in computer science are also important as the skills you will develop can apply to astrophysical research. Theoretical astrophysicists, for example, use mathematical models and computer simulations to explain astrophysical phenomena.

Q. What does your job entail?
JG: I ensure that the department’s world class research is shared with the wider world. I also work in the planetarium at the Winchester Science Centre, host the Seldom Sirius podcast.

Q. What will you be talking about at the Peterborough STEM Festival 2016?
JG: In my talk I will show you the Universe at other wavelengths, from familiar objects like our Sun to weird and wonderful distant quasars, and explain some of the physics behind them. Along the way I will touch on the stories of some of the pioneers in these areas of astronomy and astrophysics, who dedicated their careers to furthering our understanding of the invisible Universe.

What you need to know:

Name: Jen Gupta
STEM field: Science
Job title: SEPnet/Ogden Outreach Officer
Employer: Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth
Education level: PhD in Astrophysics
Where to find her at the Peterborough STEM Festival 2016: Grace Hopper room on the 1st Floor, 1.30pm
What she’ll be talking about: The Invisible Universe – What we don’t see when we gaze at the stars.
Random fact: Jen performs astronomy-themed stand-up!

Find out more about the festival here.

Want to know more about Jen? Follow her on Twitter @jen_gupta.

Keep up to date with the latest Peterborough STEM festival news, sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter here.