Sharon Rapoport

PhD candidate, 2012

I just wanted to go higher and found the sky fascinating.

What is your thesis topic or research interest?

I am working on long Gamma-ray Bursts, which are the most energetic events in the Universe after the Big Bang. They are believed to be the result of the death of an extremely massive star, and are sometimes associated with a Supernova. We are running simulations to try to better understand the connection between Gamma-ray Bursts and Supernovae. I am also interested in gravitational lensing, black holes and gravitational waves.

Where have you come from to do this program, and why did you choose ANU?

I did my BSc in Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US. I am an Israeli, and love travelling about while pursuing my studies at the same time. Australia seems like a great place to visit as I knew I would not get an opportunity to live here for a while probably ever again. As the ANU is the leading university in Australia, it was the obvious choice.

How did you become interested in astronomy?

I think it was while flying in the army. I remember loving being so high in relatively small and powerful planes. I just wanted to go higher and found the sky fascinating.

What do you see yourself doing when you finish your study?

Unsure yet. I am keen to join the business world, as an entrepreneur or maybe something relating to management consulting. Who knows...

What advice would you give to someone considering starting study in astronomy?

Think a bit about what you want to do. Whether you're interested in the theoretical aspect or the observational side could influence the university you might want to go to. Read about the research people are doing and find who you would like to work with. Email them and ask if they have a student project available. Take programming classes in your undergraduate, or learn some by yourself, it will come very handy. Choose a supervisor more than a university.

What are the benefits of life in Canberra?

Canberra is great. After 22 years in Tel-Aviv, and 3 more in Boston, this is the perfect place to be. If you are a mature student, and are not looking for night life, or simply enjoy nature and peaceful, "trafficless" life, you'll love it here. If you're looking for more action...well, Sydney is only 3 hours away...

Image credit: NASA E/PO, Sonoma State University, Aurore Simonnet

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