Galactic Aspirations Became a Reality

Erica Keller

Erica with James Lowenthal and Arturo Gomez Luiz

Erica Keller '15, Data Analyst

Major: Astronomy and Gender Studies Minor

Internship: Five College Astronomy Department, Research Intern; University of Wyoming, REU Intern

Employer: National Radio Astronomy Observatory

I was standing in the apex of the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) dish when I knew I had chosen the right major at Mount Holyoke.

In a few short years, I had gone from exploring the skies during lab with the 8-inch telescopes— to operating at 50-meter wide dish at the top of a volcano in Mexico. I was there for a two-week observing run, as part of my senior research project, I had started through the Five College Astronomy Department. One of my observing partners was a Smith professor who taught my first class in observational astronomy and we were taking real data that I would use later in the year to research galaxies billions of light years away.

The best part about studying astronomy at Mount Holyoke is that I was able to explore and work with professors from all of the Five Colleges. During this time, I worked with astronomers who encouraged exploration, from Optical to Radio and from professional research to science education.

The experience observing at MHC and at the LMT helped to shape my future career where I get to work with astronomy data every day at one of the best radio observatories in the world.