Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Grant R. Tremblay

Name: Grant R. Tremblay
Age: 28
Education (UR and additional): B.S. in Physics & Astronomy, University of Rochester, 2006; Ph.D. in Astrophysics, RIT.
Current city/state of residence: Munich, Germany
Job Title: Fellow
Employer: European Organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO – www.eso.org)


What do you do now, and why did you choose this career?

I’m an observational astrophysicist and Fellow in the Directorate for Science at the European Southern Observatory headquarters near Munich (ESO – www.eso.org). Using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory, I study links between star formation and supermassive black hole growth in the giant galaxies found in the center of the largest galaxy clusters in the Universe. I am also a member of the Paranal Observatory Science Operations Team, providing observing support for ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT – http://www.eso.org/public/teles-instr/vlt.html) in the Chilean Atacama Desert.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

UR offers some of the best undergraduate research opportunities in the country. Take advantage of them!

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

My closest mentor was my undergraduate advisor, Prof. Alice Quillen (Associate Professor in the Dept. of Physics & Astronomy). I still actively collaborate with her today – in fact, we just published two papers together this month!

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

Immediately after graduation, I started a graduate research post at the Space Telescope Science Institute (the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescopewww.stsci.edu). This opportunity was fostered entirely by my undergraduate advisor who had connected me with a large network of collaborators.

Where would you like to be in five years?

I love working in Astronomy and plan to stay in the field. In five years, I’ll hopefully be finishing my second postdoc and applying for longer term research positions.

How are you still connected with the University?

I still collaborate actively with my former undergraduate advisor and have returned to the campus many times since graduation. Of course, I also stay in touch with my many friends from UR. It’s a cliché, but it’s true: the friends made in college are friends for the rest of your life.

What advice do you have for current students?

If you’re interested in a Physics or Physics & Astronomy major, get involved in undergraduate research. Its importance cannot be overstated. It is essential preparation for a future career in science, in both academia and industry.