Susan Wilson with her parents, Janine and Ian Wilson, at her graduation ceremony.
Susan Wilson with her parents, Janine and Ian Wilson, at her graduation ceremony.
Susan Wilson with her parents, Janine and Ian Wilson, at her graduation ceremony.
Susan Wilson with her parents, Janine and Ian Wilson, at her graduation ceremony.
Durban - Susan Wilson is one of just a handful of astronomers in the country.

Although she now holds a PhD in astronomy, the 28-year-old teacher at Epworth High School in Pietermaritzburg said she wanted to continue with her teaching career.

She appreciates the fact that her PhD qualification from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) would open up opportunities at research facilities, but is convinced that her love for teaching mathematics and physical science at high school made a far more positive contribution.

“I teach for the love of teaching and passion for education. I realise that I could earn far more money than what I am currently earning as a teacher, but I would never do a job that I hated, for money,” said Wilson, who graduated recently.

She researched galaxy clusters. Wilson focused on galaxy clusters at multiple wavelengths, and used those observations to look at the relationships between the different properties of those clusters.

“I grew up on a farm. As a young girl, I would lie on my back at night and look at the stars and wondered how it all started, how the universe operates. As a result, I chose to focus my research on galaxy clusters. I wanted to know more,” she said.

Wilson said she was interested in determining how different properties of clusters changed and evolved.

“It was a topic that fascinated me as it allowed me to look back in time and see how things have changed or stayed the same. My research gave me answers to a lot of questions I had,” she said.

Wilson planned to use the knowledge gained in the classroom.

“I want to get pupils to have an interest in scientific issues. I relate my lessons to practical things that they see every day to make science more real, and they realise that science is actually not that difficult,” she said.

Wilson completed her BSc and an Honours degree in computational physics after which she moved to the University of Cape Town to study for a Masters degree offered by the National Astrophysics and Space Science Programme.

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