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Sarah Gallagher - CSA's Science Advisor to the President and Associate Professor at Western University

Sarah Gallagher

What is unique about your job?
My job has many aspects to it that I enjoy. As a professor, I analyze data from space observatories, teach physics and astronomy, mentor students doing research projects, talk to the public about black holes, and work with my colleagues to envision and build next generation observatories. In this new role at the CSA, I'll be providing a scientist's perspective on space activities to the Agency and the Chief Science Advisor. As this is a new position, I will be discovering exactly what is involved as I go – I am looking forward to it!

Which professional accomplishment are you the most proud of?
I am most proud of the PhD theses of my graduate students. A thesis represents the development of a student into an independent scientist who has contributed something new to the field. My role as a supervisor is to enable and guide that professional and intellectual growth so a student is able to creatively pursue their own work.

Who or what helped you the most throughout your career?
I have two key research collaborations – one on black holes and one on interacting galaxies - that I have been a part of for more than 15 years. The people on these fantastic teams have inspired and supported me throughout my career regardless of where I was working. We bounce ideas off of each other, write proposals, and mentor students as a group endeavour. It is essential for me to have a group of people I can trust both scientifically and personally as a sounding board for developing ideas and making decisions.

What advice would you offer to girls or women?
Doing science is hard for everyone. Do not be discouraged by the challenge of it – that's why it is interesting and rewarding. So, find people who are as excited as you are about this great endeavour, and support them as they support you. You should enjoy your colleagues as much as your work!

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