Meet the Scientist

PhD in Science Education at University of Oslo and University of Western Australia

What scientific field do you work in?

 

I’m a mathematical physicist now doing research in science education.

"I'd like to be an octopus for a day."

Could you briefly explain what your job involves?

 

I develop digital learning environments in modern physics and study how abstract scientific concepts like black holes or four-dimensional spacetime can be visualized.

Do you have any secret talents?

 

I can sit cross-legged on an airplane seat which makes travelling a breeze. Not sure if being small and flexible counts as a secret talent though?

When did you decide you wanted to work as a scientist?

 

I was 12 years old and read Stephen Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time”. I was immediately hooked and decided to study physics to understand the Universe. I didn’t end up solving all the mysteries of the cosmos though. Instead, it is now my job to inspire the next generation of big thinkers.

What's your favourite movie quote?

 

"Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in."

-American Beauty

Have you taken part in any research? If yes, what was your most exciting project?

My current research project is pretty exciting: I design a museum exhibit that illustrates the concept of warped time in modern physics. Did you know that clocks run slower if they approach a black hole for example? Anyway, my idea is to do research with the museum visitors to understand how humans visualise time. I think that’s super exciting.

What's your favourite food?

 

Anything with sweet potatoes and chickpeas. Also, coffee.

What educational pathway did you take to get to where you are now?

 

Ha, my interests have always been broad and I reckon this reflects in my educational pathway. I studied physics and mathematics at the University of Göttingen, Germany, and the University of Oslo, Norway. During that time I worked as a teaching assistant in undergrad courses and did internships with science magazines. I’ve always enjoyed playing with abstract ideas but it was really fun to share this knowledge with others as well. So I enrolled in a distance study program on public relations management to become a better communicator. And now I combine all of these experiences in my PhD, which has brought me to the University of Western Australia. I literally moved to the other end of the world in the name of science!

"I love to excite the inner scientist in others..."

If you could be anyone in the world, for 24 hours, who would you be and why?

 

I’d like to be an octopus for a day. An octopus distributes its cognition over its eight arms. Just imagine how different the world must look like for a being that doesn’t have just one but many little brains?!

What was the best thing about your job?

 

There are so many cool things about my job: I love to excite the inner scientist in others and it is just plain fun to stretch everyone’s minds with concepts of modern physics. Plus, I really enjoy all the travelling that comes with working in academia.

"I can sit cross-legged on an airplane seat which makes travelling a breeze""

What was the worst thing about your job?

 

That you never seem to have enough time to pursue all the ideas you have. It’s hard to say no to opportunities that just seem down your alley. But you only have so much time and have to be really focussed on what to prioritize.

If you could take one thing with you to an island, what would it be and why?

 

Probably I would take Bertrand Russell’s “A History of Western Philosophy” with me. 2000 years of philosophy should give me enough food for thought for a while.

Do you have any advice for young people who are interested in your career path?

 

Stay curious, read as much as you can, and find people that make you feel inspired and excited about what you are doing.

Ask Magdalena a Question

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