Third-year honors student Leon Linebarger has a passion for astronomy, a passion he wants to share with the universe.
A physics major, Leon came to Oregon State because of the university’s great physics program and its strong affiliation with NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
“I’ve always wanted to join NASA because of the amazing work they do in studying space and getting mankind among the stars,” he says.
To achieve his dreams of working for NASA, Leon is trying to learn everything he can about quantum mechanics, astrophysics and cosmology during his undergraduate years. He’s attended every NASA event on campus he can, such as the biannual NASA symposium, and he’s taken advantage of several opportunities offered by the Oregon Space Grant. Last year, he even won a scholarship funded by the grant.
On top of participating in events organized by NASA and the Oregon Space Grant, Leon joined a quantum mechanics and cosmology research group on campus to learn as much as he can, even though he has not taken a quantum mechanics course yet. Eventually, he plans to have his honors thesis based on the research done by this group.
Honors classes like the HC 408 thesis courses and the honors general chemistry lecture and lab series have already helped him move towards his goals.
“I really enjoyed [the honors chemistry class] despite it being the hardest class a freshman could take,” he says. “The professors got to know us each individually, and they were all interested in our success.”
Leon is also committed to sharing his passion for astrophysics and cosmology.
“I want to build interest in astronomy and the universe as a whole because it is something that I am very passionate about and feel that it needs to be discussed more,” he says. “It is inevitably the future of humanity to be among the stars, and astronomy and other related fields will play more and more of a role in our lives as time progresses.”
Leon is the public relations officer for the Astronomy Club on campus. In this role, he organizes weekly outreach events, invites guest speakers and plans field trips for the club. He also works as a TA for PH 104, Descriptive Astronomy, which allows him to build connections with students and work to further their interest in the subject.
With a strong basis in outreach and learning, Leon doesn’t expect his momentum to slow or his trajectory to falter.
“It is very much a part of human nature to explore the unknown and discover what was once thought impossible,” Leon says. “The Earth with all of its quarrels, cultures and cultivation is in the end just a pale blue dot in the never-ending sea of the cosmos.”
Perhaps Leon will be among those who take humanity to places once thought impossible to reach.