— Ivy Wong, astrophysicist
ASK AN ASTRONOMER what hooked her on the field and she’ll likely tell you about gazing at the night sky as a kid. Not Ivy Wong. Growing up, she set her sights on becoming a veterinarian. But when she began biology classes at the University of Melbourne, she couldn’t quite stomach dissecting animals. “I was more squeamish than I thought I would be,” she recalls, so she switched to maths and physics.
Wong wasn’t sure where her new majors might lead until she landed a vacation scholarship to work at the Parkes radio telescope in central-west New South Wales. “I knew nothing about astronomy back then,” she says. It captivated her.
Today at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research at the University of Western Australia, Wong uses radio telescopes to study galaxies forming from vast clouds of cold gas, and the supermassive black hole that can lurk within them.
She watches these galaxies furiously churn out stars until they run out of fuel or are strangled by warming radiation spewing from their black hole.
Wong still spends time with animals, but in a less nauseating way. She fosters cats with a little help from her permanent kitty companions, Pippa and Finn.
IMAGE f22 Photography