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Camilla Pacifici – NIRISS instrument scientist

Camilla Pacifici

Credit: STScI

  • Quote: Go for it, make mistakes, learn from them, improve, repeat.
  • Studies: Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics at Sorbonne University (Paris)
  • Job title: NIRISS instrument scientist
  • Employer: Space Telescope Science Institute

What is your connection to the James Webb Space Telescope?
I work to support the ground-system development and the plan for commissioning and science operations of the NIRISS instrument on the Webb Telescope. This scientific instrument will help study many astronomical objects, from exoplanets to distant galaxies.

What part of the Webb mission are you most excited about?
Webb will allow us to discover areas of the universe we have never seen before. I am looking forward to studying the formation of the first stars and galaxies and diving into the unknown.

What is the best part of your job?
I very much like the fact that, with my job, I can help the community and enable science discoveries. I like to be a part of such a large project that touches many aspects of astrophysics and reaches the international community.

How did you choose your career path?
I think I decided that I wanted to be an astrophysicist when I was in high school. I was fascinated by the universe and wanted to understand how it works. In graduate school, I worked as part of a European network whose aim was to prepare young scientists for Webb. I realized that I wanted to continue on that path after graduation and be part of the mission. When I had the opportunity to work at the Space Telescope Science Institute, I did not think twice.

What advice would you give young people interested in going into space science?
I would just say "do it"! In space science, every career path is different, and there are of course obstacles, but also many open doors. I think my only advice would be to stay open-minded and interact as much as possible with other scientists at all career stages.

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