Alex is pursuing his Ph.D. in Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Currently, he is working with Dr. Laird Close and his team on MagAO-X, an entirely new “extreme” adaptive optics system for the Magellan Clay 6.5-m telescope in Chile, and tentatively the Giant Magellan Telescope.
Alex was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and grew up in a small town called Wakefield. His curiosity of the universe all started at the Frosty Drew Observatory, one of the only few observatories in Rhode Island, where he saw Saturn through the eyepiece of a 16-in Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope. Like any other universe dweller, Alex looked up at the night sky and started asking questions. Modern technology became a source of knowledge, and school became an opportunity. After attending high school, Alex decided to study astronomy at the University of Hawai’i at Hilo.
The best (if not one of the best) astronomical observatories lay at the top of Mauna Kea, a 14,000-ft dormant volcano on the big island of Hawai’i. With big observatories comes big astronomers who are eager to teach students about astronomy. Alex knew it was here that he would gain the best experience and fulfill his dream of impacting the astronomical community, which he did.
Throw yourself into the astronomical community and gain as many opportunities as you can. Talk to the professors about research opportunities and take a walk down N Aohoku Pl, where most of the observatory headquarters sit right above campus. Do some research on the astronomers who work there and force yourself to introduce yourself. There are endless opportunities to gain real experience, but they won’t come unless you seek them.
(Updated February 2nd, 2018)