Paul Hirst

Project Scientist, Gemini Observatory

From Doing What Seemed Interesting to Becoming a Scuba Diver, Pilot, and Astronomer and the World’s Leading Observatories

I never made a conscious decision that this is what I wanted to do or deliberately steered myself in this direction. I just went through life doing what seemed interesting and within my comfort zone at the time, and this is where I ended up. I know there is a general perception that astronomers must have been smitten with the stars at a young age and devoted themselves from that point on to a career in astronomy, and I do know of a few colleagues who did, but I never had such an epiphany. To borrow the title of a book by Sir Bernard Lovell, who pioneered much of radio astronomy and built the observatory where I did some of my studies, I’m another “astronomer by chance.”

I’ve certainly taken on big new challenges at several points during my career. But honestly, I can’t think of any nontrivial examples where I’ve really stepped outside my comfort zone in order to get where I am now.

Get Going Supernova: The Bold Paths of 101 Superachievers to read the rest of Paul Hirst’s Story.

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