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Michelle Collins
I'm a Hubble Fellow in the Yale University Astronomy department. I study nearby galaxies to learn about their evolution, and the properties of dark matter. I'm also on twitter: @michelle_lmc

On the 'benefits' of Postdocs

Michelle CollinsApr 10, 2015Comments
At the present moment, I am a postdoctoral Fellow, on my second postdoctoral position, and about to segue into a faculty position in the UK. This new phase of my career is something I've been thinking a lot about, as it will result in a fundamental shift in how I do research. Presently, I am free from any and all duties that are not research. I can work as I please, on whatever I like. Which is a ~  read more

A bad week for women in physics, and beyond.

Michelle CollinsOct 09, 2016Comments
It’s been a rough week for women in physics. Hell, women generally. I’ve found myself cradling my head in my hands, dejectedly looking up at information displayed on my glowing monitor at work on multiple occasions this week, as I read about yet another blow to women in physics, instead of focusing on my own work. So, why has this week been so bad for me and my ladies-of-physics? ~  read more

Addressing #shirtgate

Michelle CollinsNov 16, 2014Comments
*pokes head above parapet* Alright. So, I considered not writing this post. Because I was very concerned that even expressing an opinion about #shirtgate would lead to a stream of abuse so beyond my comprehension. BUT... The Spectroscope is about delivering you the science news of interest. And I can hardly deny that this has dominated twitter these past few days. And given my association with ~  read more


Michelle CollinsMay 16, 2015Comments
This morning, NPR featured an interview with a senior astronomer from Caltech, titled "'Playing Around With Telescopes' To Explore Secrets Of The Universe". So far, so fun! The goal of the piece seems to be to communicate a little bit about the science we astronomers do, the telescopes we use, why we do astronomy, and how we're more than just scientists (for example, it points out that its ~  read more

What exactly does it take to remove an academic for sexual harassment?

Michelle CollinsOct 12, 2015Comments
About midway through a long drive up North this weekend with friends, I turned to my phone for a little distraction, going through the normal cycle of checking email, Facebook and Twitter. It was in the second app that I suddenly sat bolt upright and exclaimed ‘Holy crap!’, leaning forwards to fill my two non-astronomer, non-academic friends in on the Buzzfeed article all over my ~  read more

Academic science isn't sexist OR how to do bad science

Michelle CollinsNov 05, 2014Comments
Last week, the New York Times ran an Op Ed piece that drew significant attention from the academic sphere.  A column by Wendy Williams and Stephen Ceci proclaimed (in stark contrast to other recent findings), that 'Academic Science isn't Sexist'. According to the authors, after a careful analysis of the data, they determined that academia itself is not the cause of disparity between the ~  read more

Rocket loaded with ISS cargo explodes on launch

Michelle CollinsOct 29, 2014Comments
Disaster struck during the launch of the Antares rocket this Tuesday. The unmanned Orbital Sciences Corporation rocket exploded 6 seconds after launch. The rocket was meant to propel the Cygnus spacecraft into orbit, so that it could deliver cargo to the International Space Station. The whole event was captured on NASA live stream, and by those watching from the press ~  read more

Australia builds a tractor beam!

Michelle CollinsOct 21, 2014Comments
We are now another step closer to living in the Sci-Fi futures promised by Star Wars, Star Trek and their ilk. A team of laser physicists at the Australia National University (ANU) have built a tractor beam that can attract and repel particles over distances of 20 cm. It's a massive deal for the community, as it represents "a kind of holy grail for laser physicists,” according ~  read more

If you don't follow ISS astronauts on Twitter, you should!

Michelle CollinsOct 20, 2014Comments
As I'm sitting making observations using ground based telescopes today, I am also watching astronaut Reid Wiseman post beautiful pictures and Vines from the International Space Staion! From Earth pictures, to moon settings and lightning storms, feeds like his are packed with fantastic images. Uploaded FROM SPACE. Here's a few below. But seriously. follow Reid and some of his coworkers. Their view ~  read more

Colour perception is FASCINATING!

Michelle CollinsFeb 27, 2015Comments
Alright, so first off, I don't *really* care what the actual colour of that dress is (I'd describe it as pale-blue, distressed bronze if pushed), but the whole debate is fascinating to me. Ever since I was little, I have thought and worried a lot about whether people view colours the same way I do, and how can we even tell? I have a pair of shoes I am CONVINCED are green, but I'm frequently ~  read more

Boldly going to Alpha Centauri?

Michelle CollinsApr 14, 2016Comments
A theoretical physicist, the creator of Facebook, and a Russian Billionaire walk into a press conference. Next thing you know, the internet is abuzz with the talk of an interstellar mission, wherein we puny humans will attempt to fly a teeny-tiny space craft roughly 25 trillion miles to our nearest stellar neighbour, Alpha Centauri. This ambitious project is the latest to be funded by the new ~  read more

Why we should all be excited about water on Mars!

Michelle CollinsOct 01, 2015Comments
I know, I know. You've heard it before. NASA announces water on Mars! Didn't they do that years ago? Don't we already know all about water there? What's the big deal? Well, my friends, this time things are a little different. It's true: we did already know there was water on Mars. But the water that's been discovered in the past is ancient, locked up in ice caps or in the atmosphere, and not ~  read more

We landed on a comet! WE LANDED ON A COMET!!!!!!!

Michelle CollinsNov 12, 2014Comments
I don't know what y'all have been doing today, but I have been transfixed by the ESA live-stream coverage of humankind landing a robot onto a comet. #Philae’s view of comet 67P moments before #touchdown. #CometLanding #esa #cnes #space #comet #67P — Observing Space (@ObservingSpace) November 12, 2014 I've posted about the ESA Rosetta mission before, but ~  read more

Sexually experimental Geckos adrift in space

Michelle CollinsJul 25, 2014Comments
Yes, you read that correctly. This week, the Russian Federal Space agency lost contact with a Progress satellite that is carrying a group of 5 Geckos. They had been sent into space to study what the effects of weightlessness would be on their sex lives. Also onboard are Drosophilae flies, microbes, plant seeds, and other scientific experiments, inlcuding one to grow crystals for use in ~  read more


Michelle CollinsJul 15, 2015Comments
Humans, rejoice! Because yesterday was an historic day! For it was at 7:49 AM EDT that we finally explored the only unexplored world* in our Solar system: PLUTO! The dwarf planet everyone loves to talk about :) NASA's New Horizons spacecraft successfully completed its flyby of the Pluto system, and now we will get the clearest, bestest images of Pluto and its 5 moons (4 of which we've never been ~  read more