Woman scientist shares her journey at JPL


Claudia Cazares

Dr. Morales, guest speaker, explained the reason why she started going to college. She is now a research scientist at NASA. Photo credit: Claudia Cazares

Claudia Cazares

On Monday, April 11, 12 students attended a presentation with Dr. Farisa Morales as a guest speaker, she shared her journey as a research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab as well as some aspects of her personal life.

Dr. Morales began her education at Mission College where she completed her general education and declared herself a math major.

Her undergraduate physics professor suggested she apply for an internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA is where Morales began working on the Spitzer Telescope project and gained interested in astronomy. After working on the project she decided to change her major to astrophysics.

Dr. Morales geared up her education and received her bachelors of science in astrophysics at UCLA in 2003.

She continued to pursue higher education at Cal State University of Northridge receiving her master of science in physics in 2005, then, lastly she received her Ph.D at USC in 2011.

The female ratio in the Astrophysics field is significantly less than men.

“Its is a rarity, it is in the few percent,” Morales stated.

Kinesiology major, Amanda Passi said, “This workshop’s primary focus is on women in science and even though stem field is still growing, placing emphasis on how women are a minority and putting word out there.

“Like Dr. Morales mentioned we are probably equal in undergrad but when we transfer there is a huge drop and once we focus in career wise it is almost non existing.”

Dr. Morales supports students to pursue internships while attending school, she says students get to understand what is it they are passionate about.

Those are opportunities where students get to experience what they like or don’t like.

Monica Diaz, culinary arts major said, “I love astronomy and I thought it was really exciting to have someone from NASA come as a guest speaker to Cerritos College.

“I’ve always been interested in astronomy for as long as I can remember even though I am a culinary arts major. The speaker is amazing she inspired me to do more, and take more astronomy classes.”