University of Hawaii at Hilo

Natural Sciences Division

Department of Physics & Astronomy

Niki Thomas

B.A. Biology, minor in Astronomy and Mathematics (Class of 2017)

Clubs organizations: N/A

Where you are now and what you're doing: Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics PhD at UCSC. My research is related to designing biosignature detection instrumentation for space missions. 

Areas of specialty: Astrobiology & Molecular Biology

Places you have worked, interned or traveled to for your career: NASA Ames Research Center, Research Corporation of the University of Hawaii, PISCES, NASA Hawaii Space Grant Consortium Fellow, BASALT Research Project

Brief 1-paragraph bio: I was born and raised in the Bay Area, but went to a magnet high school in Las Vegas called the Las Vegas Academy of the Arts. After high school, I studied abroad in Seoul, South Korea for two years at Yonsei University, and then transferred to UH Hilo in 2014. I love the X-Files, karaoke, ice cream, calculus, gouache paint, wet lab work, and science communication. 

What attracted you to UH Hilo Physics & Astronomy?: Maunakea and the outstanding astronomical community present on Big Island because of it. 

Advice for prospective/current students of UH Hilo Physics & Astronomy: Hilo is a small town, so you are in a unique position to have unhindered access to world-class astrophysicists, astronomers, and general scientists. Take advantage of that by reaching out to them for research opportunities and mentorship. Undergraduate research experience will be one of your most valuable assets when applying to graduate school or observatory jobs. Additionally, participate as much as you can in local outreach events such as Journey Through the Universe, AstroDay, Onizuka Day, etc. Knowing how to be a contributing member of the community, who supports the transparency of publicly funded research through science communication, will be one of your greatest responsibilities as a future scientist.  

Niki Thomas, UH Hilo Alumni 2017




Website: N/A

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  • (Updated October 2nd, 2017)