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Desiré Whitmore

Senior Science Educator and Staff Physicist
Exploratorium, USA

Desiré Whitmore

Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: USA
Educational Background: AS in Physical Sciences, Antelope Valley College; BS in Chemical Engineering, University of California Los Angeles; MS and PhD in Chemical and Material Physics, University of California, Irvine; Postdoc in Attosecond Physics, University of California, Berkeley

 

I have always loved math, science, and engineering. I knew early on that my career would be in a STEM discipline because I loved learning how the world around me worked. At home I used to take apart electronics like the TV, VCR, telephone, and vacuum cleaner (much to the dismay of my parents) to understand how the parts worked together so that I could rebuild them.

I have many responsibilities at the Exploratorium, which is a world-renowned hands-on science museum where people are encouraged to explore the world through science, art, and human perception. My primary job is to help middle school and high school science teachers across the country figure out the best ways to teach science so that all students can connect to what they are learning and feel like scientists and engineers.

This career is the perfect fit for me because I love to teach and learn, and I feel like I have a large impact on science education. I would not be able to have this career without my PhD, however, so I am very grateful that I decided to stay in school even during the several times that events in my personal life made me want to quit. I had to remind myself that I was not earning my PhD for just me, but that I was also a role model for my younger siblings and other first-generation students. This helped to motivate me to finish and to continue pursuing my love of science.

I feel like I have hit the jackpot, and it is a career that I had no idea even existed when I was in school. I wish that someone told me how important it is to stay open-minded about what you can do with a STEM degree. I had no idea that there are so many different careers in science to choose from. I have had four different jobs since graduating with my PhD, and they were all quite different from each other and rewarding in their own ways. My current position is by far my favorite, since I get to ask questions and learn about new science every single day and I work with people that are just as curious about the world as I am.

If I can offer any advice to future scientists, it is to not be afraid to ask questions and question answers, because that is how you learn! Even if you are not confident that your question is good, there is probably another person who wants to ask the same thing but is afraid to. Explore the world around you and be a noticer. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to fail because that is how you learn the most.

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