Credit: Jonty Marshall
Credit: NASA, ESA and el equipo Hubble SM4 ERO
Mural at the en streets of Cholula
What does an Astrophysicist do?
 
The work of an Astrophysicist consists in investigating how does the Universe and its components work. The results of the research performed by astrophysicists are presented in refereed Journals and conferences. The themes amongst the ones you can choose to specialize are: planets, stars, interstellar medium, Milky Way, galaxies and cosmology (the study of the Universe as a whole). Among the main activities that Astrophysicists may do are: analyse images and/or spectrums, develop computational codes for the study of astronomical data, build computational simulations, test statistics of large database, design and/or build instruments for the study of Astronomy, teach and do outreach.
 
How to become an Astrophysicist?
 
In Mexico the only university that offers the Astronomy degree is the Universidad de Sinaloa, and this is a recent program. So the "ideal" way to become a researcher on Astrophysics is to study Astronomy or Physics and then do a master and PhD in Astrophysics. It is not a demand to be a physicist to become an astrophysicist, many researchers have obtained their college degrees in engineering or other science majors like Computer Science or Chemistry. Still, solid basic physics knowledge is necessary. In Mexico there are many institutes and universities in which you can do your graduated studies and work as a researcher once you have obtained the degree.


Here you can find a list with Mexico's most famous Astrophysics institutes.
 
Personal experience
 
I studied Engeneering in Telematics (a unification of Telecomunications and Informatics) at the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México (ITAM). During university years I had the chance to work with Dr. Andrés Gómez de Silva in a proyect on resources optimization using genetic algorithms, participate in the human resources area of AIESEC (headquarter ITAM), take a course on movies (as an optional course for the carrer) and my passion for Astronomy began.


It was on my second year on university that I took an online course on Astronomy given by the University of Sonora (UNISON). I liked it so much that I ventured myself into assisting to the Astronomy National Conference that took place at the UNISON (2004). There I met Dr. Omar López Cruz (INAOE) whom proposed me to use my telematic knowledge to study an astrophysical problem. My engineering thesis was entitled "Study of clasic methods and wavelets to determine variable stars periodicity" and was supervised by Dr. Francisco García Ugalde and Dr. Omar López Cruz (as an external supervisor). Migrating from Telematic to Astrophysics was a fascinating chalenge. I had to study Physics on my own, although with great help from INAOE's researchers (specially Dr. Francisco Soto and Raúl Mújica) to whom I will always be greatful to. And so I got to be accepted at the Master in Science with specialty in Astrophysics at INAOE.


I did my master's thesis under the supervision of Dr. Sergiy Silich, Dr. Guillermo Tenorio-TAgle and Dr. Casiana Muñóz-Tuñón. That proyect gave me the oportunity to work both with hydrodinamical models and optical observations, and to get into the study of starburst galaxies, like M82. The results of my thesis were published in an article entitled "On the heatinffciency derived from observations of young super star clusters in M82" and published by The Astrophysical Journal. I was captivated by the star-formation area and decided to keep its study during the Phd thesis. Now I am analysin goptical and infrared images of H II galaxies (which are believed to reseamble the first formed galaxies in the Universe) in search for their star formation history in 2D. My thesis is being supervised by Dr. Daniel Rosa González, Dr. Elena Terlevich and Dr. Angeles Díaz, from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM).