It’s been a while! Sorry I haven’t been posting that much on my site in these last few months. As I’m sure everyone knows, 2020 is a doozy.

Academically, I’m still doing fine. In fact, all summer I studied for my qualifying exam! For those of you who aren’t Case Western students or my family, the qualifying exam is the test that you take as a grad student to see if you know enough material to become a PhD candidate. In the astronomy department, that exam is a two-for-one deal: there’s a written exam, covering stuff that you learned in the core astronomy classes, and an oral exam, where you present the research you’ve been working on and the professors ask you any questions they want.

I spent all summer studying for it and came into school one day to take the written exam alone in a conference room. That wasn’t too bad, but it was a rough four hours with a very small break halfway through. The oral exam took place over Zoom with four of the professors and me. I presented my research and that went really well!

Then the questions came.

Listen kids. Make sure you remember what Einstein coefficients are.

Despite that hiccup, I PASSED! I’m now a PhD candidate! Now I’ll spend the next three years working on research. At some point along the way, I’ll propose a thesis and then further along the way I’ll defend that thesis and graduate. So that’s all I’ve been doing for these past few weeks. Well, that and TA-ing a sophomore level astronomy class.

Personally, I’ve been doing okay. Since the pandemic began, I’ve tried to maintain those relationships that I had before everything shut down and everyone started socially isolating. I’ve been doing Zoom activities with my family every week; in fact, this is the most I’ve seen them in a long time. I’ve also been leading public astronomy talks on Zoom every week on Sunday evenings. Those have been going really well! I’ll start posting stuff about those soon.

Well, that’s about all I have to update y’all on. Just thought I’d let y’all know I’m still here!

Comments (2)

  1. Jenann McDonald Garner


    Well said, Ray. I loved reading it. Question: I was perusing the Space Weather site and began to wonder if the other planets in our solar system have fireballs whose trajectories have any of those other planets as their “center”?

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