TAURUS Scholar Spotlight: Elizabeth Gutiérrez


Elizabeth Gutiérrez
2016 TAURUS Scholar


Cross-posted with permission of Prof. Caitlin Casey, Director of the TAURUS REU Program at the University of Texas, Austin. If you lot want to cross-post a like slice featuring a pupil of color, delight contact Jorge Moreno: jmorenosoto AT gmail DOT com


This is the quaternary of v weblog posts focusing on our 2016 summertime scholars.  This calendar week nosotros focus on Elizabeth Gutiérrez, who is working alongside Dr. Ivan Ramirez on stars’ orbits inwards the Galaxy equally purpose of the TAURUS program. Elizabeth volition driblet dead along her undergraduate at University of Texas at Austin alongside a passion for astronomy. Here physician Ramirez talks virtually his experience working alongside in addition to getting to know Elizabeth this summer.

Stars are born inwards clusters, families of tens of thousands of stars formed at the same fourth dimension from a mutual gas cloud. At relatively immature age, stars move out the gravitational bounds of their parent clusters in addition to driblet dead purpose of the Galaxy galaxy. Reuniting stellar families is a monumental occupation for modern astronomy, but i which is critical for agreement how galaxies evolve. Elizabeth Gutiérrez is working on dynamical models of stars’ orbits inwards the Milky Way, along alongside data on chemic composition in addition to stellar age, to convey us closer to achieving the ultimate finish of identifying groups of champaign stars alongside mutual origin.

Elizabeth grew upwards inwards the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Her parents emigrated from Jalisco, United Mexican States inwards the mid-1980’s inwards what tin last described equally a classic American Dream story. Castilian was the principal linguistic communication spoken inwards Elizabeth’s house; Sunday’s Mass, the rodeo, opening upwards presents on Noche Buena, in addition to eating rosca de reyes on Three Kings Day are around of the things she remembers experiencing equally a pocket-sized raised inwards a traditional Mexican-American home. She identifies herself equally a Chicana instead of Mexican-American.

At the historic menses of twelve, Elizabeth took a scientific discipline course of report that sparked her involvement inwards astronomy. Visiting the Adler Planetarium in addition to watching the master copy Cosmos serial at 15 reinforced this interest. She remembers visiting the Hubble Space Telescope website in addition to beingness farther inspired past times images of the distant universe. Finding beauty inwards the chaos of nature is zilch curt of poetic, she says. In fact, Elizabeth enjoys writing poems inspired past times the cosmos. In 2014, she won a prize for a poesy form she submitted to the AstroPoetry challenger on the Astronomers Without Borders blog. In high school, she worked alongside her woman individual physics in addition to astronomy teacher, Marcella Linahan, who involved her students inwards interrogation on immature stellar objects. Marcella was an of import purpose model for Elizabeth who farther inspired her to pursue a career inwards astronomy. 

The early on days of schoolhouse were tough for Elizabeth, who had problem reading in addition to writing inwards English. During the Fall of 2014, she began her collegiate didactics at predominantly white academy in addition to apace began to experience out of set inwards her classrooms where she would typically last the exclusively pupil of color. She also felt unprepared inwards her coursework compared to her classmates in addition to has experienced a hostile environs for people of color inside her institution. She confesses to last however working on overcoming these challenges, but she is agreement that alongside difficult move in addition to perseverance she tin successfully reach her goals. She has also come upwards to realize that she does non need to compromise her ethnic identity inwards lodge to driblet dead a successful scientist. 

Professional astronomy today is suffering from issues of sexual harassment, discrimination, in addition to racism. Elizabeth is fully aware of these problems in addition to adds to the listing the lack of awareness in addition to stigma associated alongside mental illness, anxiety, in addition to depression, specially when triggered past times the academic environment, which she experiences herself. Nevertheless, she feels optimistic virtually the changes that are already taking set to improve these situations, many of which originate from the to a greater extent than of import roles that younger scientists inwards the champaign are assuming. The recent ascension inwards popularity of online platforms that i tin work for back upwards inwards these matters, such equally the Equity in addition to Inclusion inwards Physics in addition to Astronomy grouping on Facebook, is encouraging to her, equally is the fact that an increasing number of professional person astronomers are speaking upwards openly virtually these issues on social media. She believes that accessibility to purpose models in addition to mentors, both at the academic in addition to personal levels, is commutation to the success for aspiring astronomers. Therefore, the to a greater extent than the better.

Both professionally in addition to personally, perseverance is commutation for Elizabeth. She believes that success tin exclusively come upwards later failure. Thus, her advice to immature students of color interested inwards scientific discipline or astronomy equally a career is that they should never uncertainty inwards their abilities in addition to sympathize that failing is purpose of the process. Also, for her it is really of import to accolade the sacrifices of your parents. “¡Echale ganas!” her begetter oft tells her, in addition to she lives past times that motto.1

Elizabeth is interested inwards exploring multi-wavelength astronomy inwards the future, potentially investigating star in addition to planet formation, areas inwards which she already has pregnant interrogation experience. 

1 “¡Echale ganas!” is an untranslatable seem of encouragement which could last interpreted equally “go for it!”.


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*Jorge Moreno is an Assistant Professor of Physics in addition to Astronomy at Pomona College. He is the Chair of the AAS Committee on the Status of Minorities inwards Astronomy (CSMA).

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