Douglas Walker

'The faculty research at UC is top notch...'

  • Douglas Walker

Studying towards a PhD in Astronomy

Space Flight Engineer, NASA Johnson Space Centre, Texas, USA

Research Scientist, University of Texas, USA

Retired Senior Project Engineer, Lockheed Martin Aerospace Corporation

Douglas has over 30 years of experience in the space exploration industry, including work at NASA and Lockheed Martin back in the USA. His next step is to transition from engineering to space research through Astronomy studies at UC.

‘I completed a career in aerospace and space engineering and now am moving on to a second career in astronomical research and education,’ he says. ‘My goals after graduation are to teach and work with students in science and engineering.

‘My primary research encompasses utilizing data from the SALT telescope in Africa to conduct photometry analysis of stars in globular clusters searching for new variable stars. To achieve this, I develop algorithms to process large quantities of astronomical images.’

With a clear ‘love of Astronomy’, Douglas has had the exciting opportunity to use the Mt. John Observatory to supplement his PhD research, one of his many reasons for choosing to study at UC.

‘I make frequent use of the Mt. John Observatory for my research. A great facility located in a beautiful setting. I conduct research searching for a new type of variable star in the general galactic field using the 1-m telescope at the Mt. John Observatory.’

UC was also a good choice because of its emphasis on international research.

‘I wanted to study my subject with a well-known faculty, be surrounded by a diverse set of international students and study in a beautiful place. I enjoy the diverse international study body and the friendless of the faculty. The faculty research at UC is top notch.’

Douglas has been making the most of UC support services, which has been especially useful for his research.

‘I have attended several lectures provided by the Academic Skills Centre on how to write research proposals, writing dissertations and producing posters. I enjoy the challenge of searching for new discoveries and writing up and publishing the results in referred journals,’ he says.

Douglas advises students to consider their passions when it comes to choosing what to study to have a more fulfilling career path.

‘The pursuit of money will never deliver a satisfying life. It is important to love what you do,’ he says.

Chrissy Emeny

Chrissy Emeny

'The best thing about my research is being able to create something original...'

Andrew Ridden-Harper

Andrew Ridden-Harper

'UC graduates in Physics and Astronomy do PhDs in some of the best universities in the world...'