Maria Straight '21
I am a Christian, and physics studies God's creation. I really want to learn more about how everything works. I very much believe that science and faith are related.
I chose to major in physics because I've always enjoyed math and science, and my grandpa is a nuclear physicist. He encouraged my interest in math and science.
In high school, I was an Idaho Science and Aerospace Scholar. I took a NASA-based course and then attended a summer camp. We designed a human mission to Mars, and I got to go to the NASA Ames Research Center. I think it would be really cool to go to space as an astronaut.
Going to space would be great, but I'm also interested in studying open-ended questions in physics, like "What is dark matter? How does it behave?" While aerospace engineering focuses on building rockets and going to space, astrophysics is more about understanding cosmology and how the universe developed to what it is today. I'm more interested in studying the science behind the universe and our place in it by working with simulation data and continuing with my research.
Last summer I had a Research Experience for Undergraduates at University of Texas at Austin, where I worked with a professor and a postdoctoral student on a project about dark matter. The experience confirmed my interest in going to graduate school after college to continue doing astrophysics research.
We think science has all the answers, but there's actually so much that we don't know, and that's humbling. I think it really leaves room for God.
Maria's story appears in the fall 2019 issue of Whitworth Today magazine.