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A compilation of stories, telescopes, internship resources, and other things radio astronomy.

About

 
 

About Olivia

Hey there! I'm Olivia.

I'm an astrochemist working on her PhD at Caltech in Pasadena, California. I mostly use radio telescopes (which look more like satellite dishes than your standard optical 'scope!) to tune into the invisible universe and figure out what's out there and how it's made. I'm also an artist and a teacher and passionate about science communication and effective teaching pedagogy.

I saw my first radio telescope when I was seven when passing through the Potomac Highlands in West Virginia. I was awestruck by the size of what I thought was a massive satellite dish, and I hastily sketched the dish in a sketchbook, forever imprinting it in my mind. Later, I found out that what I had seen was Green Bank Observatory (at the time part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, or NRAO). Little did I know that the dish—the 17-million-pound, taller-than-the-Statue-of-Liberty Green Bank Telescope—would set me on a path of astrochemistry research.

Before I was a PhD student, I studied chemstry and mathematics at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, close to where I grew up. I was initially interested in chemical ecology, but a visit to the NRAO just before college also got me thinking about radio astronomy. In 2013, I had the opportunity to be a summer student in Green Bank, where I heard the term "astrochemistry" for the first time. Wanting to learn more, I sought out astrochemistry research experiences for the following summer and landed in the Öberg Astrochemistry Group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

I earned a B.S. in chemistry and mathematics from Dickinson in 2015 and headed off to Köln (otherwise known as "Cologne") in Germany on a Fulbright research fellowship. There I worked with the Cologne Laboratory Astrophysics Group at the Universität zu Köln and forever fell in love with Germany.

While in Germany, my high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband Alex and I became a family with the arrival of Günther, named for some long-dead German king as a consolation prize for citizenship in Germany being by blood, not soil.

For now, I'm happily in SoCal, tuning into the invisible universe and in an endless struggle to get my code working. When I'm not doing that, you can find me with the family at a coffee shop, exploring a National Park, or making pot pies on what we call Pub Sunday.

Want more details? Check out my CV!

About the Website

The Sky is not the Limit was created to provide students with information about radio astronomy, one of the subdiscplines of astronomy and astrophysics. Radio astronomy, most eloquently described as "exploring the invisible universe" (visitors to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory receive stickers that say, "I explored the invisible universe!", with each tour), is the study of astronomical objects and phenomena at the long wavelengths in the radio domain. Although radio astronomy is a global discipline that often relies on international collaborations, there is not yet a cohesive resource for the subject. The Sky is not the Limit aims to connect information about research, telescopes and education pertaining to radio astronomy for easy access.

This website was created and is maintained by Olivia Harper Wilkins. She would like to acknowledge the Digital Humanities at Dickinson College, to whom she is grateful for training and resources in digital media acquired through their Digital Bootcamp.

About the Content

The telescopes page exhibits maps of radio telescope distribution around the world. It also contains links to pages that provide lists of telescopes and descriptions of select telescopes on each of Earth's continents as well as off-planet (i.e. telescopes that are in orbit).

Research opportunities includes information about research experiences, scholarships, and fellowships for both undergraduate and graduate students interested in radio astronomy. If you know of a research experience, scholarship, or fellowship that is not listed on these pages, please send the name of the opportunity and a website URL (if applicable) to radioastron@outlook.com or use the contact form at the top right of this webpage. Help with expanding resources for students is greatly appreciated!

The Professional Student is a blog about graduate school. From the reasoning behind it to the application process and beyond, posts include personal accounts, opinion, and advice. Categories include student life, applying to graduate school, coursework, teaching, fellowships and research.

Scoping out radio astronomy is a blog that tells the stories of radio astronomy's history—key people in the development of the field, the development of new observatories and telescopes, and discoveries that changed the way we understand our Universe.

A (Ful)bright future is a blog from Olivia's year as a Fulbright research fellow at the Universität zu Köln where she worked with the Cologne Database for Molecular Spectroscopy (CDMS). Topics range from research and Fulbright events to travel and culture.