Brianna is currently studying Math and Physics at Cal Poly Pomona University. She is enjoying her upper division courses and is very active in research and other things on campus. She spent her summer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics doing research through CAMPARE using galaxy merger simulations. This is her story.
This summer in Boston was a memorable one indeed. When my research partner, Francisco Mercado, and I first arrived, we took a week to settle in and familiarize ourselves with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the tools provided for us. We set up accounts on the Odyssey super computer and started writing and running some fundamental codes. Something very awesome about this research experience is that our mentor, Dr. Mentor allowed us to choose what our summer projects would be. Many undergraduates do not have this privilege. Although it was challenging sometimes, I learned that creating science from scratch really does come with experience.
I decided what I wanted to do and immediately jumped into using the FIRE simulation data to analyze these bridges in the galaxy mergers. I made many movies at first. These helped me to visually inspect the mergers and gave me some direction on what the next step should be. After these small steps, the ideas and science started to come easier to me. The rest of the summer was loads of fun as I continued to grow as a scientist and dive deeper into the field of theoretical astronomy.