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'I'm very excited': Campion College welcomes new astronomy professor

Campion College in Regina will be welcoming a new astronomy professor in the fall.

Samantha Lawler will be replacing Martin Beech at the federated college

Samantha Lawler, the new astronomy professor at Campion College, will start in the fall of 2019. (Submitted by Samantha Lalwer)

Campion College in Regina will be welcoming a new astronomy professor in the fall.

Samantha Lawler is a postdoctoral fellow for the National Research Council Canada at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory in Victoria, B.C.

She is going to be an assistant professor of astronomy at Campion College, a federated college of the University of Regina. She will be replacing Martin Beech, who is retiring from the federated college after working there for more than 20 years.

Lawler, who is originally from Los Angeles, said it was a bit of luck that lead to her ending up studying in Canada.

"I applied to graduate school all over the U.S. and I applied to [the University of British Columbia] as one place in Canada and I got in there," she said. "That brought me to Canada and I love it here and want to stay."

Lawler will be replacing Martin Beech, who is retiring from Campion College after working there for more than 20 years. (Submitted/Campion College)

Lawler shared her excitement about her new position at Campion on Twitter. The original tweet garnered more than 15,000 likes.

Lawler has always wanted to be an astronomer.

"I'm very excited about getting a job that will let me follow my dreams," Lawler said.

"I remember as a kid I went through the dinosaur phase like almost every kid goes through, and then in kindergarten I got to the astronomy, astronaut and space phase and never grew out of it." 

Difficulties getting positions in astronomy

She said a lot of astronomy researchers get to her current position as a postdoctoral fellow, but she is one of the lucky ones who gets to study astronomy "all the way through."

Her new position at Campion will allow her to teach astronomy as well as continue her research on planets around other stars and Kuiper Belt objects like Pluto.

Lawler said she has been doing research for more than 10 years. Three of those years have been spent actively looking for a permanent position.

Samantha Lawler and her daughter, Sylvia, in front of the Plaskett Telescope in Victoria. (Submitted/Samantha Lawler)

She said there were only five astronomy research positions available in Canada this year.

"My path to getting a permanent job has not been as straightforward," she said. During her search, Lawler had a gap of parental leave while looking for a position.

"I'm really interested in teaching liberal arts students who have a much much wider breadth knowledge than students might have at more research focused school," she said. 

"I think the students will be really really fun to teach."

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