Name: Becca Mikula
Hometown: Savannah, Missouri
Advisor: Zoltan Sternovsky
Program: 2nd Year Aerospace PhD Student
My name is Becca Mikula and I am from Savannah, Missouri. Savannah is a small, farming community in northwest Missouri. When I was growing up, I remember looking at the stars almost every night and being able to pick out constellations and planets from the mess while I looked out over the fields.
I have always been interested in science and engineering. My brother brought me his high school astronomy textbook when I was in elementary school and he and my grandma helped me read it. I had known from as early as I could remember that I wanted to do something focusing on space.
There wasn't a ton of exposure to role models in STEM, especially as a little girl. I mostly saw role models on TV and in books. I always looked up to women like Jocelyn Bell Burnell. I saw them in documentaries and wanted to be just like them.
The problem was, that opportunities to do physics and engineering just didn't exist back home. I decided to pick up everything and move after high school.
I did my undergrad at Morehead State University, a small university in eastern Kentucky. Within my first year, I was working at the Space Science Center as an astrophysics undergrad fellow. By the time I graduated, I had worked on the ground station tracking small sats, in the planetarium, and on the assembly of a cube sat.
I knew after trying just about everything there that the more engineering-focused areas of space exploration were for me.
I always thought I wanted to be an astrophysicist, but during undergrad, I got extremely interested in the mission planning side of things from a systems perspective and instrumentation for space missions. I ended up finishing bachelor's degrees in astrophysics and chemistry and decided to pursue my graduate degree in a more engineering-centric area.
At CU Boulder, I'm working on my PhD in aerospace engineering with a focus on remote sensing. I just finished my first year of grad school and couldn't be happier I did it here.
I decided on CU Boulder for graduate school after hearing tons of great things about the university, the research opportunities, and the beautiful Front Range. I knew I wanted to go somewhere I would be happy for a minimum of six years and Boulder seemed to tick all those boxes.
LASP, the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, was a huge draw for me. I had always read articles and papers that featured LASP/CU Boulder projects and getting the opportunity to be part of that kind of scientific and engineering community was something that excited me.
I love CU Boulder's campus! It is amazing to walk to and from class and be able to see the mountains and hear Boulder Creek.
I think East Campus in particular is beautiful and it is fun to see the ducks in the ponds (I take my binoculars to class to stop and bird watch).
In addition to CU Boulder having the most beautiful, natural campus, I love the atmosphere here. It feels so collaborative and welcoming in the aerospace building. I love the feeling of belonging and the excitement to be learning and researching.