Ximena Cid - Physics/Astrophysics

Uploaded by ScienceCareerPath on 20.06.2011

I'm a fifth year graduate student, PhD student in Physics and my current research is in Physics Education.
So I look at visual-spatial cognition and how it correlates with student comprehension - how students use their minds to imagine systems in physics and solve problems.
I'm originally from California, I grew up in Sacramento but I have family throughout the state. My family are all artists so when I started doing science
I was kind of looked at like "What? What are you doing?" But I love the stars. I assumed you had to take science and math classes just like you had to do that in high school.
So I was taking math and science and I took an astronomy course and fell in love with it. So in order to take the next course,
I had to take more math, after that I had to take more physics, and I kind of just fell into doing astrophysics for my undergrad.
And while I was doing my undergrad I started doing space physics research. So space physics is different from astrophysics in the sense
that space physics is pretty much confined to the solar system. So I was looking at interactions between the sun and Earth
and I was trying to figure out where high-energy particles were coming from in the sun. So I started doing that kind of
research at the space science labs in the hills behind Berkeley. My advisor kind of told me when I was getting close to graduating,
she told me a little bit about the other institutions that were involved with our science technology center. So I used to do work with CISM
and I also started getting interested in how people learn because when I was in undergrad I had the opportunity to teach a little bit. So I would get really interested,
I was like why does this student over here understand something, and this student over here doesn't get it at all. So with that
I was talking with my advisor, she told me about Dr. Lopez, my current advisor, and she told me too you know he does both physics education and space physics.
And I came to a SACNAS conference and met him and told him what my interests were and kind of got into grad school that way. I did an internship with him,
liked the work, and he offered me a chance to go to grad school where everything was paid for, so I jumped on it.
I love astrophysics, I think that it's always going to be a part of me but I've really found my passion in the educational side of things.
I think once you get a PhD and once you master something in general, you have the ability to collaborate.
So some of my collaborations and some of the papers that we published are on topics in Astrophysics but they deal with how students learn those types of studies.
So once you learn something and once you have an interest and a passion in something, you're never really going to leave it behind.
You know you'll always have the ability to incorporate what you do now into what you like. That's the beauty of doing research is this idea of interdisciplinary stuff.
So you can take something that you love and apply it in different fields. I'm not going to...I'm probably never going to do the peer observational astronomy,
like going out to telescopes and doing research in that sense, but I do plan to incorporate it into my current research on how people learn.