Susanna Finn, Research Scientist, Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology
“I don’t know how anyone could not be interested in astronomy when they look at the night sky.”
Susanna Finn’s passion for astronomy took hold in elementary school. By middle school, she had her own telescope so she could look at the stars and planets.
“I can’t really pinpoint why, but I don’t know how anyone could not be interested when they look at the night sky,” says the native New Yorker, who works as a research scientist at the university’s Lowell Center for Space Science and Technology (LoCSST).
Finn, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physics from Brown University and a master’s degree and doctorate in astronomy from Boston University, now works on a variety of research projects aimed at expanding knowledge of the Earth, stars and galaxies.
One of her primary research projects, called LITES (Limb-imaging Ionospheric and Thermospheric Extreme-ultraviolet Spectrograph), is gathering data while orbiting the Earth.
“This is an instrument we built here in our lab at UMass Lowell to observe ultraviolet light in Earth’s upper atmosphere from orbit. The instrument was launched in February  and is now mounted outside the International Space Station,” she says.
Finn is also involved with SPACE HAUC – the Science Program Around Communication Engineering with High Achieving Undergraduate Cadres – a NASA-funded project in which a group of science and engineering undergraduates are designing, building and testing a cube satellite, or Cubesat, to be launched into space.
To students interested in careers in science, particularly physics, Finn has this advice: “I would say the same thing a math professor said to me: ‘If you like it, stick with it!’ Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out to people. My first research job as an undergraduate came about because I emailed a physics professor to see if he could give me any information about research opportunities. I wasn’t even thinking that I could work with him, but he offered me a job.”