My name is Joanna Bridge, and I am currently a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign majoring in Engineering Physics and minoring in Astronomy and Classical Civilizations.  I'm participating in the 2010 REU at Montana State University to learn about the research process and get some hands on experience.  I plan on pursuing a Ph.D. in astrophysics in graduate school beginning in 2011.

My interests have always been centered on astronomy.  As child, I was fascinated by the night sky.  However, I spent the first three years of my college career studying to be a high school chemistry teacher.  I eventually realized that I would not be really happy unless I was pursuing my first love of astronomy.  I relocated to Champaign, Illinois five years ago, and began taking classes at Parkland College, a great community college in Champaign.  Two years ago, I transferred the UIUC, and have loved every second of it.  Physics is a lot of hard work, but it's very rewarding, and I've never regretted pursuing it.

In the last year, I have become very interested in the juxtaposition of astronomy and particle physics.  Last semester I took a class on subatomic particle physics, and did a research project on the final run of the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search (CDMS) that was run out of what was once an old mine in northern Minnesota.  I am currently deciding which graduate schools to apply to in light of my current interests.

I began my research as an undergraduate in the summer of 2009.  I worked with Professor Leslie Looney and graduate student Jonathan Seale at UIUC studying massive young stellar objects (YSOs) in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC).  Specifically, I was working on analyzing absorption spectra of YSOs and trying to determine the composition of the ices surrounding them.  I am continuing with research this summer here in Bozeman by studying a star a little bit closer to us.  Studying solar physics provides a unique insight into the dynamics of stellar astronomy, and I hope to use this information as a spring board into other areas of astrophysics.

As a last note, the love of my life would never forgive me if I forgot to mention him - Dallas the cat, who has stuck with me through thick and thin, which may or may not only be because I keep feeding him.