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Austin, TX - AAS 2017 - Stephanie Juneau during the Monday AM Press Conference at the American Astronomical Society

Long live an astronomer from Saint Victoire de Sorel …

Astronomer, Black Hole Specialist, Artist, and Mountaineer; Stephanie Juneau has a complete biography who is only 42 years old. Who was born in Sainte-Victoire-de-Sorel and has lived there throughout her youth thrives and lives all of her emotions on the other side of the border.

“I really like what I do. I grew up in Sainte-Victoire in the countryside and always found myself outside running barefoot. I loved that freedom. Find it a little bit in Tucson, Arizona, but differently,” says Ms. Juneau.

Glorious journey

Stephanie Juneau has a full career career. After studying at Sainte-Victoire Elementary School, Fernand-Lefebvre High School in High School, and then at Cégep de Sorel-Tracy in Natural Sciences, she went to McGill University in Physics. After her first year at university, an internship brought her to Victoria, British Columbia. Here I got a more intense taste of astronomy for the first time.

“At the Astrophysical Institute in Victoria, when I got there, I didn’t even know what a supernova was (laughs). I was a curious girl, I noticed the moon and stars, but I didn’t even have a telescope. Except that I really wanted to know how it worked, I wanted to I understand everything Prove It was perfect there, with an observatory on a hill. Just trying that and doing a professional search with the computer, it turned me on, “she says.

After her internship, Stéphanie Juneau returned to McGill for a second year in Physics. His second training took place at the same institute, but in Edinburgh, Scotland.

“I was involved in designing a spectrometer, GMOS (Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph) that is still in operation today in Hawaii. I took care of the last stage, which is making sure everything works. It was really rewarding. I even took a year off after The training period to focus on GMOS design, “she explains.

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Several movements

After that extra year in the United Kingdom, the native Victorian completed her BA and MA degrees at the University of Montreal. She made trips to the Victoria Observatory again, where she discovered mountain climbing.

“I used to do it a lot in British Columbia, but it’s not perfect with the weather. When it came time to apply for my PhD, I wanted to find a place where I could combine my passion. Either I was back in the UK or the US, but I chose Arizona. I visited, the landscape spoke to me right away! ”She said.

So, Stephanie Juneau moved there in 2005 to complete her PhD until 2011. As for post-doctoral, she chose to settle in France.

“I lived in Paris for five years and could have stayed there for the rest of my career! But I missed the North American national team, which is why I returned to Arizona after that. My passion for climbing was strong and I really liked Tucson. If I could make a copy of myself, one of them would live in France and the other in Tucson (laughs). “

Days are full

Today, the 42-year-old is working full-time as a co-astronomer at NOIRLab, a laboratory that specializes in black holes.

“This is one of the first topics that made me think about astronomy. A black hole is not like what you find on Earth. I like to visualize it as a challenge. We say a black hole, but it is not a hole, it is a mass that grows larger as it absorbs elements due to gravity. It is an enigmatic aspect and me. I love mystery, but not the science fiction genre. I love real puzzles! ”, She invokes.

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Stephanie Juneau thrives in all areas of her life. In addition to her job, somewhat altered by the pandemic as she has to work from home, she indulges in passionate evenings and weekends: visual art and rock climbing.

“The mountain connects me with nature. I have a 9,000 feet 45 minute drive from my house and the advantage here is that you can do it 12 months a year. It’s very hot in summer, so I climb to the top. Then in winter, I leave from the bottom of the mountain.”

How about art in all of this?

As for her artistic approach, it qualifies him as a language. “My art is my language! It’s a way to express yourself. In fact, it’s the only way I know of expressing myself. You visualize certain emotions, and certain expressions being reflected in my work.”

Stephanie Juneau has also taken some technical courses at the University of Arizona to improve her skills. She sees a close relationship with her work.

“Science and art go hand in hand for me. Art made me understand things in physics and vice versa. For example, I took a long time to finish a more complex canvas and one teacher asked me to take it off because I swore with the rest. However, it took too long to finish it off. When writing a science article, I had taken a long time to write an article that had nothing to do with the rest. So I chose to remove or edit it, even though it took a long time to do. Art gave me a lesson in life and brought me a lot in science.

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Before the pandemic, Stephanie Juneau returned to the area at least once a year to visit her family members who, for the most part, still lived in the area, including her father in Saint Victoire and her mother in Saint Robert. She also enjoys visiting her 91-year-old grandmother who lives in the area alone in her home. “One of my favorite places to go when I go to Quebec,” she concluded.