Stories and Testimonials

Amanda Heidermann

Former WNC Student Shoots for the Stars

Amanda Heidermann
Amanda Heidermann

The first time Amanda Heidermann met WNC Professor of Physics Robert Collier, she told him that she wanted to become an astronomer. Heidermann, a Carson City native and Carson High School graduate, was true to her word and her dream. She completed her coursework at WNC, transferred to the University of California-Berkeley and graduated with a degree in astrophysics, and is now studying at the University of Texas graduate school. Today, she is well on her way to becoming a full-time astronomer.

"Robert and the people at WNC helped me a lot through a lot of challenges," Heidermann said. "You don't have to be a perfect student; you just have to put your mind to it and you'll be successful."

At WNC, Heidermann earned a nearly perfect 3.95 grade point average, served as a senator for the United Students Association, and was a member of the first Western Nevada Astronomical Society committee. She first met Collier at a college career fair, where her goal was to introduce herself to a physics instructor.

"Robert gave me a book and we went to his office and talked," she said. "He later became my mentor and inspired me all the time."

Heidermann said Chemistry Professor Mike Sady and Mathematics Professor Ed Kingham were also big influences. "I realize now that teaching and mentoring students is very important," she said.

After earning her doctorate, Heidermann plans to become an instructor or join a research institute. She has worked at the University of Virginia National Radio Observatory in Charlottesville, Va., and has done research with data on galaxy clusters received from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

"The Milky Way is a little bit too close to home for me," Heidermann says, smiling. "Extragalactic astronomy is my absolute favorite."

In summer 2006, Heidermann worked at WNC's Jack C. Davis Observatory. She assisted with the weekly Star Parties that are open to the public every Saturday after dusk. Visitors look through a number of different telescopes and discuss the night sky.

"Now the tables are turned. I am now doing the teaching," Heidermann said.

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