Adjunct Faculty Spotlight

AFT Local 6262 Presents:

Adjunct Faculty Spotlight – Christine Hirst

College of the Canyons has many extraordinary adjunct professors who are among the best in their fields.

Meet Christine Hirst from our Astronomy and Physical Science Department.  She has been sharing her excitement and passion for science with students at COC for 4 years.  Most recently she was selected as one of four National Science Foundation positions in the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador Program.

Please read her story below:
I have been teaching astronomy and physical science at COC for 4 years. I love using the medium of space to get students excited about science, and to see them get excited and curious. I especially enjoy listening to their discourse as they discuss complicated topics, and seeing their process develop and evolve as they gain skills of scientific literacy.  In the Spring of 2019, I was selected as one of four National Science Foundation positions in the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador Program. I had the privilege of traveling to Chile in July, which immediately followed my work in Hong Kong where I founded a space-themed STEM camp for English Language Learners. I literally flew for 3 days! In Chile I visited 3 major observatories, the peak of which was the Atacama Large Milimeter Array (ALMA), located above 16,000 feet. This array microwave dishes are spread across 16 km on  the highest plateau in the World. The observatory appears very different than a typical “telescope” because the light gathered is not in visual wavelengths. The array more closely resembles a field of satellite dishes. This site is provides the missing link to so many cosmic phenomena, and recently was responsible for resolving the now famous first image of the black hole in M87. Without ALMA data, the image would resemble a pixelated blob.
Chile is crucially important in the field of astronomy; data from these observatories provide some of the only glimpses of the Southern sky. Chile has numerous science observatories, and has embraced astronomy as a tourist niche. There are currently over 100 private, “tourist” observatories. Spending time at various sites and interacting with scientists there has provided me a wealth of relevant information to bring back to my classes to inspire the next generation of scientists, engineers, astronauts and explorers. This truly was a stellar opportunity!

Congratulations Christine and thank you for sharing your expertise with our students!!

*  Please let us know if you would like to share your experience and passion for teaching at College of the Canyons!