Rice Astrophysicist Educates Science National Honor Society Members


Samyuta Rajagopalan

A one hour guest speaker session, complete with engaging videos about commercial space activities was presented by Dr. David Alexander, director of the RICE space institute and professor in the departments of Physics and Astronomy. Science National Honor Society (SNHS) members who are interested in this field hung on to every word as their guest speaker talked about possible career options in this field and the latest advances at the RICE Space Institute.

The session took place in the SNHS sponsor Eva Baccari’s classroom on Dec. 17 from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. There were a limited amount of seats in the audience, which therefore included the SNHS officers and 35 SNHS members. One of the members who attended was senior Maria Thomas.

“I enjoyed how Dr. Alexander recounted his experiences and detailed where the future of space is headed. I found it interesting to learn about the topics he discussed, namely the effects of space radiation,” said Thomas.

This is Dr. Alexander’s second time speaking to SNHS members so the officers decided that having him speak again would be beneficial to their new members. Additionally, the officers noticed that many members were aspiring to go into a career that is physics or astronomy related, so calling the director of the RICE Space Institute to speak about his profession allowed the students to gain more insight into what they want to do in the future.

“For members who know that they want to go into the science field, but do not necessarily know what part of science to go into, this guest speaker session may have helped them narrow down their options,” said SNHS co-president, senior Tarini Thiagarajan. “Conversely, for members who know that they want to go into the astronomy or physics field, this session may have helped them gain a better understanding of what the field is actually like.”

The session began with Dr. Alexander playing a clip about commercial space activities. Afterwards, the session was guided by student questions and turned into an educated discussion about the field of astronomy and physics. Some of the topics discussed were space exploration and potential careers in space.


“SNHS is about spurring intellectual scientific thoughts and I knew that bringing in a guest speaker who is so passionate about what he does would be helpful to the members to hear from his experiences and inspire those who want to follow in his path,” said Thiagarajan.