Western University Physics adn AstronomyWestern Science

Emily McCullough, Astronomy (specialization Planetary Science) MSc 2009; PhD 2015

       I'm a Lidar Support Scientist at Dalhousie University, working with the "Probing the Atmosphere of the High Arctic" project. I'm responsible for the CANDAC Rayleigh-Mie-Raman lidar at the PEARL laboratory in Eureka, Nunavut on Ellesmere Island. Approximately twice per year I travel to the Arctic lab to do maintenance, upgrades, calibrations, and upkeep on the lasers, telescope, and electronics. Since the lidar is remotely operable over the Internet, I spend the rest of the year in Southern Canada making measurements, and writing and running the data processing software. By cooperating with other scientists in the CANDAC network and beyond, we combine the information from the CRL lidar with other clues from satellites, spectrometors, etc, in order to do larger studies of the Arctic atmosphere and investigate how it is changing.

       Before coming to Western, I had no experience with either lasers or with atmospheric research, the training I got at Western is directly responsible for the things I'm doing now! Working with Bob Sica and his Purple Crow Lidar I was able to do both my MSc and my PhD research on lidars at Eureka, Nunavut. Experimental science in an Arctic environment is a special thing, and needs to be learned in person, by spending hours with the instrument. I was extremely lucky to be able to do this, and it is this experience which has made me employable in my field.

       The Planetary Science program is the reason that I chose to go to grad school at Western. This interdisciplinary program was the perfect way to do a rigorous Astronomy degree, while being able to focus on the parts of astronomy that most interested me - planets. I found a community of "my kinds of people" sprinkled among Astronomy, Earth Science, and Engineering. Working with such a diverse group who were all interested in planetary science and exploration was a really important part of my time at Western. 

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