Rosemary Dorsey

'I would like to work as an astronomy researcher overseas in various observatories...'

  • Rosemary Dorsey

Bachelor of Science in Astronomy and Physics

Master of Science in Astronomy

Studying towards a PhD in Astronomy

Rosemary was inspired by the planets after reading a book by Dava Sobel on the Solar System, and has since made understanding more about the universe her primary interest.

When the opportunity came in her last year of high school to apply for UC’s Aurora Astronomy School (now the Elaine P. Snowden Astronomy School), Rosemary joined the 5-day experience on campus and at the Mount John Observatory in Tekapo, learning astrophysics and getting to use modern astronomical equipment.

‘After this, I was thoroughly fascinated by how space worked and decided to explore it further as a part of my Physics study at UC,’ she says.

Having a long-developed love for the sciences, Rosemary’s undergraduate study was made up of a variety of maths and physics areas. UC was her first choice due to its course offerings and her family being graduates, as well as getting to enrol with a UC Merit Scholarship for her NCEA results.

‘In my degree, I enjoyed the diversity of the courses that I took each year – they have different assessment structures, different lecture material and different lecturing styles which makes it easy to enjoy each course individually.

‘I enjoy understanding physical concepts and being able to rationalise different physical situations, and then also being able to explain to my peers how they work.’

In her second year, Rosemary received the New Zealand Institute of Physics Prize, and in her third the Haydon Prize in Physics, for her results in course and laboratory work. Her overall results in her Bachelor of Science degree earned her a Sir George Grey Scholarship, as a top science undergraduate student.

Being a part of the PhysSoc and MathSoc clubs was a great way for her to gain some extra support, with tutorials and preparation for exams, and discussions organised by their community.

Rosemary is also a member of the SVA, and was a volunteer in the Colour Run event for Christchurch in 2015 as an awesome experience she ‘wouldn’t have otherwise had’. 

Now studying a PhD degree in Astronomy, Rosemary has been able to support other students as a Teaching Assistant for the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences, which includes running tutorials for first-year Physics students, and as an Astronomy Lab Demonstrator.

Another exciting role with UC is being a Science Outreach Assistant for the Elaine P. Snowden Astronomy School for the last few years, helping other students be inspired by the universe.

So far in her research, Rosemary has been awarded the Dennis William Moore Scholarship for her work at Mt John Observatory and the Alister George McLellan Prize for producing the best Astronomy honours research project in 2018.

‘I am doing my thesis with supervisor Karen Pollard on understanding and characterising variable, pulsating stars, using the high-resolution HERCULES spectrograph at the Mount John observatory.

Outside of UC, Rosemary also works part-time with Stats NZ as part of the International Travel Migration team processing departure and arrival data. This role is a great way to practice statistical analysis and application in the workplace outside of lectures. 

She advises other students in Physics and Astronomy study to persevere with their learning for their interests to be fully realised.

‘People don’t understand physics in a day - it takes months of exposing yourself to different concepts in order to really start to understand how it all works and that takes determination and commitment.

A career travelling the world and gaining a PhD researching the universe would be ideal after she finishes at UC.

‘I would like to work as an astronomy researcher overseas in various observatories, in places such as America, Chile, Hawaii, and Europe. Otherwise I would like to be a physics researcher or be in a job that uses physics in an unusual way, and maybe eventually a teacher.’

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