Tommaso's Open Road
UCLA Department of Physics and Astronomy
Once we have food and shelter, we can survive—we don’t need philosophy or art or movies or science. But the ability to imagine things wildly beyond our experience is a defining quality of human beings.
- Ever since he was in the first grade, he knew he wanted to study the stars.
- He loves astronomy because it gives you a different viewpoint on everything—it lets you look at life “from the perspective of the universe.”
- Studied physics and astronomy all the way through school, earning his Ph.D. in physics from the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa in Italy.
- When he was 22, he decided to leave his home country of Italy and move to the U.S. to continue his postdoctoral studies; says that was one of the hardest things he ever had to do.
- In 2015, he was part of the first team of astronomers ever to successfully predict a supernova explosion.
- Since 2005, he’s been working as an astronomy professor, lecturing at schools across California, including UCLA and UCSB.
- But even as a respected scientist and professor, he says he still feels nervous about his first lecture of each semester.
- Says, “if you never go out of your comfort zone, then you’re not really trying very hard. Accept that failure is going to be part of the process.”