Haiyang Wang

PhD Candidate, 2018

I have had the privilege of interacting with various experts in many different disciplines across geochemistry, cosmochemistry, biology, planetary science as well as astronomy.

What is your thesis topic or research interest?

My thesis is looking at the devolatilization during the formation of rocky planets. I am establishing towards a fiducial model of the chemical relationship between rocky planets and their host stars, from which I can estimate the bulk elemental composition of a rocky exoplanet from the measurement of its host stellar abundance. Upon this, in combination with certain geochemical and geodynamic assumptions, I can estimate the rocky exoplanet’s interior structure and composition, which play an important role in its atmospheric composition, magnetic field and thus in habitability.

My research interest is in planetary science and astrobiology. I am currently interested in a broad range of topics such as understanding how the solar system works and being connected by its internal bodies (in terms of chemistry particularly) and being influenced by its interstellar environment, the interior structure and composition of exoplanets, dynamics simulation for planetary formation, and many others provided they are beneficial for understanding the origin of a habitable world and the possibility of existence of life therein.

Where have you come from to join this program?

I did my college and graduate (Master’s) studies in geophysics in China. I worked briefly as an Associate Geoscientist in oil industry, before I moved to Canberra in 2014 to undertake my PhD position in the RSAA/ANU. I have appreciated a lot being a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Awards, a prestigious scholarship/fellowship program funded by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, to support my PhD research here.

How did you become interested in Astronomy?

My long-standing interest in both astronomy and biology led me to be here as a PhD scholar studying astrobiology. When I was in high school, I had been deep into astronomy and biology, inspired by the black hole theory and the technology of genetics, respectively.  Having no chance of picking up either of them, the life led me to study geosciences in my college and graduate school. Fortunately, I was awarded the 2014 round of Endeavour scholarship as mentioned above, enabling me to pursue for my PhD in astrobiology, a combination of my dual interest in astronomy and biology as well as my experience in geosciences.

What experience have you gained while studying at Mt Stromlo?

I enjoy and appreciate a lot the free academic ambience within the RSAA and in the ANU. At Mt Stromlo Observatory, there is no hierarchy between senior faculty, young researchers and graduate students. I can feel free to ask anyone who may help answer my questions during my research. This has benefited me a lot!  In the meantime, with the support by the RSAA as well as the ANU, I have gained experience to attend conferences/workshops/summer schools within Australia and overseas (Europe, US etc.) to present my research results and network with leading researchers and many bright young peers in my field. My experience of academic visits to other institutes like TokyoTech during my program also helped deepen my PhD research.

What has been the highlight of the program for you so far?

Astrobiology is a highly interdisciplinary field. Studying in this program in the RSAA, I have had the privilege of interacting with various experts in many different disciplines across geochemistry, cosmochemistry, biology, planetary science as well as astronomy.

What do you see yourself doing upon completion of your PhD?

Although academia is a highly competitive area, particularly in astronomy, I keep passion and optimism to see my future as a young researcher with many dynamic opportunities.

Why would you recommend Mt Stromlo to others?

I would recommend it with no doubt, to anyone who has passion and research interest in any field of astronomy and astrophysics. 

What are the benefits of life in Canberra?

I am very fond of the relaxed and quiet life style in Canberra. The well-designed road systems here have made my frequent transport between Mt Stromlo and the ANU main campus much easier, to visit my advisors in different schools. By the way, parking at Mt Stromlo is free!

What advice would you give to someone considering studying Astronomy?

Astronomy comprises a broad range of subjects. Find your real interest and choose a project that you are truly into and work with a supervisor whom you have learned of.  Whatever you choose in Astronomy, you should always be proud of yourself, because you work in a community, where individuals dedicate themselves to understand the pure nature of the Universe, galaxies, stars and planets, which seems to be a bit far from the human society, but enormously benefit to all human beings at all times. 

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