When I was a kid, I was always in trouble. So, one day, my parents had to come all the way to school camp to pick me up as I did something surely terrible and disruptive, I cannot really remember what, and the teachers wanted me out of there. My dad told me to wait in the car while he went to talk to my teachers. The car had a roof window, and we were at a good altitude far from big cities and light pollution, in the Swiss Alps. I was in the passenger seat playing with the electric chair recliner and there it was, the milky way! Bright and beautiful, like a river made of millions of tiny lights. I knew then that I wanted to be a scientist. I was nine years old.
A few years later, after graduating from an art lyceum (lots of painting and sculpting), I started my degree in physics at the University of Milano Bicocca. During this time, I discovered that mathematics is not the dull exercise that they sometimes teach in secondary school, but there is much beauty in it. Alas, I also discovered money and the freedom that comes with it. I was lucky enough that my first “grown up job” was paying OK and was interesting, so I deep dived into it.
After much travelling around the world, moving from my native country (Italy) to Ireland, getting married, having 3 kids, and building a career in digital marketing, I decided to go back to my books and completed an honours degree in mathematics at Technological University Dublin. But, while Ireland is a wonderful country, I was way too cold there, so I was more than happy to move to Australia with my family when the opportunity arose.
I was not done with studying though. In 2018 I started a Master of Philosophy in statistics at Monash University (because, you know, maths), which I completed recently, and that led me to starting a PhD in Astrophysics where I could apply my knowledge of statistics to the study of gravitational waves. I came full circle from that evening in the Alps when I was nine years old.
In my research, I try to improve existing detection methodologies of gravitational waves generated by supermassive black holes dancing around each other. I currently work on a project focussing on how the use of wrong models can lead to false detections of gravitational waves in millisecond pulsars experiments.
I am a big advocate of diversity in science and believe there is still much work to do to bring equality between genders in any field. From my very own experience, I am painfully aware of how hard it still is to work full time as a mother or having a career as a woman.
My website https://vdmwebsites.wixsite.com/valentinadimarco