Taylor Chonis loved astronomy from a young age. "I started building my own telescopes in fourth and fifth grade. We lived far enough outside Kansas City to see the bright part of the Milky Way."
Taylor went to the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and received a bachelor's degree in physics. He participated in programs for students at Kitt Peak National Observatory and at the Institute for Astronomy in Hawaii. "It was a truly rewarding experience." Both projects involved astronomical instrumentation.
He then got a job at the University of Texas at Austin as a junior engineer for McDonald Observatory's upcoming project to study dark energy, a project called HETDEX.
"I take a lot of pride in the telescope itself," Taylor said, referring to the Hobby-Eberly Telescope. "I don't know if I like what I see through the telescope more or the telescope itself." His goal is to one day work as an instrument scientist at a major astronomical observatory or as an aerospace instrument scientist on space telescopes.
"I'm an astronomy freak," says Taylor. "I'm getting a degree in astronomy and in my free time I'm an amateur astronomer." He also enjoys visiting his fiancÃ© in Maryland. "She's a graduate student in Baltimore working on a degree in genetic counseling. I fly out to see her sometimes on the weekend."
As well as astronomy, Taylor enjoys sports, photography, and computers in his free time. He particularly enjoys photography of astronomical objects. "I vastly enjoy recording my version of the sky. The images are as beautiful as they are inspiring."
Graduate Student, Astronomy, University of Texas at Austin
B.S., Physics, University of Nebraska in Lincoln