Unique Scientist: Nora Bailey

Let’s welcome Nora Bailey (She/her)! Nora is an astrophysicist and studies the way planets move! She is completing her PhD at the University of Chicago in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m an astrophysicist! I specifically study exoplanet dynamics–the way planets move. It can be a lot more complicated than it sounds! I love astrophysics of all kinds, and I’m lucky to belong to a department with a wide variety of interests, so I get exposed to lots of different subfields, both in topics (cosmology, high energy astrophysics, etc) and research types (computational, observational, theoretical, etc).

What made you want to become a scientist?
I’ve always loved science and had an intense curiosity about the world around us. Astrophysics in particular really appeals to me, because there is just so much possibility in the universe and trying to understand it is a very fundamental part of what it is to be human.

“I’m a 6’4″ woman with pink hair so I guess I’ve just always been destined to stand out a little!”

Nora Bailey

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I think every scientist is unique! In my case, some of the things that stand out are that I am a woman, a veteran, and a non-traditional student (I started grad school at 30). And I’m a 6’4″ woman with pink hair so I guess I’ve just always been destined to stand out a little!

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I love to bake, and I think I make some very tasty stuff even though it’s usually not very pretty. My decorating skills are improving though! I also like to run longish distances (I’m doing half marathon #5 next month), write fiction, and spend time with my pet bunnies, Pippin and Fíli.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would love to see more papers published on unsuccessful experiments and projects. We can learn so much from failure, and I think it would be easier for scientists starting out. Only seeing the successes I think hinders progression and also is very disheartening.

“Astrophysics in particular really appeals to me, because there is just so much possibility in the universe and trying to understand it is a very fundamental part of what it is to be human.”

Nora Bailey

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
I’ve had lots of great inspirational figures. One is my dad, who was also a non-traditional student and didn’t get his PhD (in philosophy) until 40. Now he is a full professor and absolutely loves his job!

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
This week I crushed my mid-week training run of 7 miles and also finished running a set of simulations that should be the last ones I need for a paper I’m working on. Getting things done!


#WomenInSTEM

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