Staff Profile: Science World's "Spacey" Science Facilitator, Kat Hamill
Kat Hamill came to Science World two years ago and ever since she arrived we've been over the moon about her! Her enthusiasm for science of all kinds and her fearless sense of wonder is magnetic. We had to ask her what fuels her passion.
So what was it that instigated your love of science?
I think there were 2 stages. I was good at it when I was younger and I really liked it, but when I went into later years in school, I applied to go to a posh school and the physics class really intimidated me and I thought I couldn’t do it. Then when I was 18 or 19, I found that I was still really passionate about science, so I went ahead and gave it a try. I figured that anything I really wanted to do was going to be hard and that I shouldn’t give it up just because it’s not easy.
What is your area of expertise?
I study physics, astronomy and, somewhat begrudgingly, mathematics. I study these subjects because they go hand-in-hand for my ultimate passion: astrophysics. The concepts that I work on are so interesting to me because they apply to everything in the universe—from the quantum to the massive! Astrophysics and cosmology try to answer the hardest questions, the one’s we are all trying to figure out.
How did you get involved in science centres?
When I first visited Vancouver I went to the HR Macmillan Space Centre and I had to be a part of it. I called every week for 2 months until they gave me a volunteer position. Then, by the time a job came up at Science World, I knew that I loved facilitation. I applied right away and was so surprised when I got the job!
What do you hope visitors will take away from your facilitation at Science World?
One of two things, I think, depending on their pre-existing level of interest. If they are not that turned on by science already, I’d like it if they were inspired to think about it a bit more. I like to point out how science is everywhere and meet visitors on their levels of interest. If they are already interested in science, I hope that they take from me the momentum to keep exploring, even if their grades aren’t perfect or if something seems impossible.
So, working in a science centre isn’t your average day job. What is one of the strangest things you’ve ever done at work?
I once got swarmed by bees—on purpose! We were working with our bee keepers on our Green Roof one day and while the bees swarmed me I thought, well, I guess I’m not afraid of bees anymore!
Since you study astrophysics, is it your goal to be an astronaut?
Yes! When I look at photos of space I feel this absolute need to be there. Looking at pictures isn’t enough!
So, when are you off to space?
I think 15–20 years is realistic for me. Though, maybe we’ll get to a point with space travel that scientists will be able to travel more frequently and it won’t require such extensive training. But, even if it takes 7–10 years of training, I’m in!
Kat is also responsible for the spacey content on the Science World Blog. So if you want to know more about gravitational waves or how likely it is that science will discover aliens in your lifetime, you're in for a treat!