THERE IS, AT THE CORE OF THIS DECISION, A PROFOUND DESIDE TO KNOW THE WORLD AND TO FEEL AWE AT ITS VASTNESS.

“What does a life in pursuit of wonder look like?” This is the question that Emily has been trying to answer for most of her life. Growing up in the small suburban town of Hockessin, Delaware, she always felt that there was a bigger world waiting to be discovered. With family all across New England, Emily had spent her life traveling across the US northeast and marveling at the beauty of its landscapes. But in such an expansive country, much remained to be seen. When the time came for college, she moved to Pomona College, roughly 2,600 miles and a 40+ hour drive from her native Delaware. 

There is, at the core of this decision, a profound desire to know the world and to feel awe at its vastness. Such a sense of discovery is ever present when talking to Emily. As she talked, you were left with a sense that magic is out there and one just has to reach out to find it.

Upon enrolling at Pomona, she looked for a major which would allow her to understand the world around her in its most fundamental state: the field of astrophysics. When asked why, of all the available majors at Pomona, she chose astrophysics, her answer was in line with the same quest for wonder: “It felt like you were studying magic. If you could just grasp the underlying basic principles of the world, you could understand anything at all, even the most incomprehensible phenomena.”

During college, she participated in various research projects, including an initiative to maximize the discoveries from a new telescope located in San Pedro Mártir by improving the scheduling algorithms. In her last years, she joined NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, studying the icy moons of Jupiter and Saturn in its Ocean Worlds Lab. She served as the sole web developer on the team, and after graduating she spent much of her time building an online tool that would make data sharing and visualization a smooth and seamless process for the lab’s easily-lost backlog of data. That experience cemented her desire to pursue a future in software development. Her childhood wonder had morphed into something slightly more practical: the hope that she could build creative tools that would connect people to knowledge which would otherwise remain inaccessible.

After NASA, Emily moved back to the East Coast before joining us at Auba in yet another mission to unpack a complex world. After looking for answers in the universe as whole, she has set her mind to unlocking the intricacies of international trade. When asked what she most enjoyed about her current role, she summarized it: “the joy in the discovery”. The same forces that took her to NASA and motivated her several moves across the country now drive her to understand how and why systems and models fail when faced with reality. This work is just one of many small steps in a life devoted to understanding those assumptions that seem like magic to the bulk of the world.