Tell us a bit about yourself! Where are you from, and how did you get into Physics?
Hey! I am Matthew Lundy, and I am from Ottawa, Ontario. I always loved both science and the arts growing up. I was singing in musicals while competing in chemistry contests all throughout high school. As I started at university, I knew I needed to choose between the science or the arts … or why not both! I got my degree in Physics and Drama and now continue to have a place in my heart for both as I work towards my physics PhD here at McGill. Although, it turns out that this science stuff sure does take up a lot of my time!
What do you like about Physics?
Physics, astronomy in particular, makes me feel like I’m a part of a much larger story. Humans have been looking into the sky and asking questions ever since we developed a brain, and some of these questions we still don’t have the answer to. In my small way, I feel like I’m chipping away at these questions and helping to make a difference in how we see the universe.
What outreach activities are you currently leading or have led in the past?
My big thing is that I give tours at the Anna McPherson Observatory at McGill and provide observing sessions after events with some smaller telescopes. There’s something exciting about seeing Saturn rings with your own eyes and there’s just a wonder that people experience that I’m so glad to share. I also have dipped into a couple of other events and so you might see my face pop up all over.
Are there social issues that you want to address in particular?
Outreach should be for everyone. Many groups have historical connections to the university but expanding this to a wider demographic pool is critical. The sky is for everyone and the wonder that astronomy provides is not and should not be restricted by race, class, or gender barriers.
What’s your life as a physics student like? What’s your research on?
I research a broad range of topic all connected to gamma-rays, the most energetic form of light. This light comes from some of the most exotic locations in the universe and helps to illuminate the underlying physics that guide them. I’m either in Tuscon, AZ where I work on the VERITAS telescopes themselves or analyzing the data in my office. A lot of my work is done through software that I write or help maintain so I spend quite a bit of time jamming out and typing.
Name a scientist you think people should know more about. Why is she special?
Mary Somerville is an interesting historical character that folks often don’t read about. So diverse in her interest and ability, she is recorded as the first person to be described as a ‘scientist’. A contemporary says of Somerville that “though her head is up among the stars, her feet are firm upon the earth” which I think is a state of being that we can all hope to achieve.
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