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Princeton Student Mariah Krimchansky Excited To Challenge Herself in Goddard's Helio Lab
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A future Electrical Engineering student at Princeton University, Mariah Krimchansky is enthusiastic about putting her high school physics classes to the test in Goddard’s Heliophysics lab.

Name: Mariah Krimchansky
Age: 18
Hometown: Laurel, MD
Position: Summer Intern
Office and Code: Heliophysics, Code 673
School: Recent Eleanor Roosevelt graduate, attending Princeton University in the fall
Projected Major: Electrical Engineering

What do you do at Goddard and how does your work support Goddard’s mission?

This summer I am assisting my mentor, Mei-Ching Fok, in her work with understanding the radiation belt and magnetosphere. The magnetosphere is beneficial to Earth in the sense that it reflects most of the sun’s damaging plasma emissions. But when some of the sun’s plasma leaks into the magnetosphere, it can be harmful to our satellites because of the rapidly changing plasma densities that interrupt radio waves. My job is to gather data, such as particle fluxes and magnetic field disturbances, from these solar storms and then to translate that data into IDL, the coding language of the data visualization. I run simulations of my mentor’s radiation belt through the model so that I can compare it with the actual outcome in order to test the model’s accuracy.

Photo of Mariah Krimchansky
Photo of Mariah Krimchansky. Credit: NASA/GSFC/Becky Strauss

What were the most useful high school classes that have helped you in your current position and why?

My physics classes were definitely the most helpful courses in this particular internship because many of the concepts we are working with, such as flux and charges, were things that we discussed in those classes. Surprisingly, my writing classes were also extremely useful to me because they have prepared me to be able to communicate well in emails, papers, or simply in talking with others in the field.

What makes the intern program at Goddard so great?

The best part of the intern program is the exposure I am getting to so many different scientific fields. This isn’t the type of job where I just sit around in an office all day; I really get to do hands-on research and find out if this is the career for me or not.

What are your future goals?

My plan is to earn a bachelor’s and maybe a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Princeton University where I will be starting this fall. I really like Electrical Engineering because it will allow me to create things, in a sense, while still getting to work with the heavy math and science. I’m not totally sure what type of job I want to get in this area, but hopefully this internship will help me better determine my likes and dislikes!

What advice would you give to someone who was interested in interning at Goddard?

I would definitely encourage them to apply for an internship. Often the summer is kind of the slump of the year, when kids spend their time doing things that aren’t going to matter in the long run. An internship is a unique chance to keep your brain fresh for the school year, to get definitive direction on what type of career to pursue. Even if you end up disliking your particular project, at least you will know it now!

If you could talk with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?

It would be so interesting to go back in time to talk with Albert Einstein. First I would update him on modern-day science discoveries, and then I would present some of the problems we have to see if he would be able to solve them.

What do you do to relax?

I like to read classic books whenever I have free time. My all-time favorite book is "Catch 22" because of the creative theme of irony that weaves through the entire manuscript.

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.