Deborah Joanne Bard is a post-doc at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory where she works on science preparation for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Deborah is developing new methods of extracting information from the future LSST dataset, in order to understand the structure and evolution of our universe. While her current field of study is cosmology, she started her career in particle physics where she studied the difference between matter and anti-matter with the BaBar experiment at SLAC, moving from studying the smallest particles we know, to studying the largest structures in the universe. Deborah earned her MSci in Physics from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and her Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in the field of Particle Physics.
1) What inspired you to work in STEM?
I've always been interested in science, ever since I was a child. I remember sitting in a science class when I was 12 and learning that color is not an intrinsic property of an object, but rather depends on what wavelengths of light are reflected and absorbed from the surface. That idea blew my mind, and ever since I've been fascinated by the ways that science changes the way I see things!
2) What excites you about your work at the Energy Department?
I really enjoy working at a National Laboratory, because of the range of science that is done here. It's very inspiring to be around scientists working on different projects, and sharing ideas with people outside my field often leads to breakthoughs that we wouldn't have in a more isolated environment.
3) How can our country engage more women, girls, and other underrepresented groups in STEM?
This effort needs to start in the classroom, and I think scientists have a responsibility to reach out to schools and other organizations to encourage and inspire children. Having visible role models for under-represented groups allows children to visualize how they might continue their love for science in the future.
4) Do you have tips you'd recommend for someone looking to enter your field of work?
Most of all, it's important to be enthusiastic about the science. Research can be hard work, but if you're fascinated by the subject then it's very rewarding. And don't underestimate the importance of computing! Most of my work involves writing code, so getting familiar with common coding languages will really help you hit the ground running.
5) When you have free time, what are your hobbies?
I've always been a big fan of music, and I love going to see bands. This has developed into organizing a small music festival with some friends, so I can bring my favorite bands to me! I also enjoy metalwork and blacksmithing - since my day-to-day work is so cerebral, it is fun to do something very physical in my free time.