Out and About with Sophia Ridolfo (2018)

What has your journey been since leaving Santa Maria College?

Since graduating from Santa Maria in 2018, I moved to Canberra, where I’m now in my third year of a Bachelor of Advanced Science (Hons) Majoring in Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University. Although I miss my family and friends, I’m glad I made the leap and moved to Canberra, and I love university campus life. Apart from coursework, I’ve had some amazing opportunities including doing astrophysics research at ANU and CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, presenting my own research at conferences, and writing academic papers for journal publication. I’ve had the most amazing journey since starting university, and most importantly, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to pursue my passion for astrophysics.

What led you to be interested in astrophysics?

I’ve always been passionate and excited about science, and when I was younger I read dozens of books about it! It wasn’t until around middle school when I started physics that I realised I was always curious about how the universe works. I also credit my high school teachers at Santa Maria, particularly in maths and physics classes who always encouraged me to challenge myself, and my family who supported my idea to move to ANU to study astrophysics.

After starting my studies at ANU, I discovered my passion for research – where I now work as a Research Assistant at the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at ANU and student researcher in ASTRO-3D. At the moment, I do research on star formation and galaxy evolution – where I study highly resolved star-forming regions to provide clues to the link between star formation and the chemical evolution of galaxies. 

What has been a highlight along the way?

A significant part of my life outside of my studies and research work that I thoroughly enjoy has been volunteering. I’ve been involved in the ANU Astronomy Society and ANU Physics Society since I started university and this year I was delighted to be elected President, where I’ve had the pleasure of being able to organise lots of fantastic events and activities for students! I’ve also met many other people through these societies, like me, who are passionate about astronomy and physics. Another volunteering program that I love being part of is The Young Stars, a STEM outreach program. My team and I run engaging talks about astronomy, space, and science, in general, to get kids excited and passionate about science! In addition, I also work as an ANU Student Ambassador which means I get to talk to lots of prospective and new students about ANU and university life.

What is one of your fondest memories of your time at Santa Maria College?

Some of my fondest memories at Santa Maria were actually in my classes and with my friends. In particular, my maths and physics classes were always great and I remember having such enthusiastic teachers who really encouraged science – I really hope the Ladies in Labcoats science club is still running at Santa!

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