“I made a little bit of an impulsive decision over winter break my junior year of high school. I was a big debater, and my debate team wasn’t going to as many tournaments as I wanted. I was kind of not really active at anything in school and I just wanted to move on. I guess I have this sense of urgency to go do something that’s useful, fun, enjoyable, practical. And I wasn’t doing that in high school.
I’ve always had aspirations to be a teacher, a high school teacher. I feel that, it’s my job as someone that’s enthusiastic about what I do—which is science, I like science—to help spread that enthusiasm to people that I know didn’t have it when I was in high school.
Over the summer I started getting involved with my research advisor’s outreach program. He’d build helium balloons, weather balloons. We built one with a whole bunch of underprivileged high school students in Houston. This PVC frame weather balloon. We bolted on HD cameras and a GPS tracker.
The kids designed, built and flew it themselves. They would watch the balloon take off and then see the images of earth from 126,000 feet. You could see well into the Gulf of Mexico and Louisiana. It was very, very cool. I really like helping spread the gospel of science. I just try to inspire the next generation of dreamers.”