A Palmetto Bay student literally has her eyes on the stars.
“It all started when I saw how beautiful the nighttime stars were in Quito,” explained Daniella Roberts, 22, who grew up in Ecuador.
Now entering her senior year at Florida International University, she is pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Physics with a minor in astronomy.
“When the sky is clear in the Andes, you see a beautiful blanket of stars; it’s just gorgeous,” she said. “When I was 6 or 7, I asked my dad to buy me a telescope.”
Attending and graduating from Miami Palmetto Senior High School after her parents, Danny and Maria Roberts, made their home in Miami, Daniella was honored on May 12 by the Southern Cross Astronomical Society with its annual $3,000 scholarship, an award for deserving FIU students with potential careers in astronomy or related fields.
Now, she is assisting a special FIU study of the microvariability in Blazers, a supernova in galaxies that sparkle in the cosmos.
“Blazars are very compact quasars, among the most energetic phenomena in the universe and an important topic in extragalactic astronomy,” described Daniella who is participating in a current FIU program to determine Blazar energy sources. It is headed by FIU’s Dr. James R. Webb, Honor SCAS member.
Active in the university’s Astronomy Club since 2012 and a member of FIU’s Physics Honor Society, she assists the astronomy faculty with star parties, helping students learn to operate professional telescopes and locate seasonal constellations while answering technical questions.
Recently re-elected as club treasurer, she describes her activities as “a learning assistant” in the FIU Physics Laboratory while crediting her activity with SCAS an important focus for a starward-bound career:
“I love Saturday nights when the Society holds its free stargazing sessions at Bill Sadowski Park in Palmetto Bay,” she added.
SCAS holds free star-gazing sessions every Saturday from 8 to 10 p.m. when the public can view planets and galaxies through high-powered telescopes of Society members.
Is Daniella’s life completely starbound?
“I want to continue my education to get a doctorate in physics,” she replied. “Early in life, I thought about becoming a veterinarian because I’ve always loved animals. But after seeing the medical part of it, I knew the stars were better suited for me.”