Hannah Wakeford

Hannah Wakeford

Hannah Wakeford is an astrophysicist studying the atmospheres of exoplanets, planets outside our solar system orbiting other stars. Despite the sheer complexity of her research, Hannah takes great pride in sharing her passion for the subject as widely as possible. By taking part in outreach events, as well as running an astrophysics blog, Hannah hopes her enthusiasm will encourage people to start exploring the universe for themselves.

Hannah said: “I love taking part in public engagement, be it though giving talks, writing or appearing on radio. There is a real joy in taking what I do and translating it into something more accessible and something people can relate to. I love to hear how other people understand the information that’s been put forward, as they often have a completely different way of looking at things.

Hannah says the driving force behind her pursuit of widen participation in science comes from her desire to demonstrate to her parents how positive their influence as role models was to her. She says: “I really want to show my parents, and in particular my mother, how significant a role they played in helping our family to reach their achievements. I think they need to hear us say ‘you did well’ more often than they do.”

When asked what advice she would give to others, Hannah is unequivocal in her answer. She said: “Being able to do what you love, and also scare yourself a little every now and again, are both really important. If you do something you are passionate about you work harder, and more productively, but it doesn’t really feel like work. Taking on a new challenge and doing something you wouldn’t normally do can also drive your creativity.”

Hannah said her perception of ‘inspiring change’, the main theme of this year’s International Women's Day 2014, was giving people the opportunity to look at the world around them, and asking how it could be different. She said: “I don’t think inspiring change is something that is necessarily instantaneous, but more an accumulation of people, places and events working together to make a difference. It is really quite a powerful thing to experience.”