ESP Biography



ANNA HO, MIT '14, PhD student in Astrophysics at Caltech




Major: Course 8

College/Employer: Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of Anna Ho

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Hi! My name is Anna. I was born in Singapore and moved to London (England) when I was 9. There, I picked up an American accent from my American classmates and teachers. I graduated from MIT in 2014 with a major in physics, and spent two summers doing radio pulsar research at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia. I spent a year on a Fulbright Scholarship at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, and now I'm a PhD student in Astrophysics at Caltech.

I love teaching and running outreach events at museums. Recently, I have begun to get involved in policy as well, going to Capitol Hill to lobby for increased funding for science research. Ultimately, I plan to be a scientist dedicated to public outreach and science education.

While I was an undergrad at MIT, I:
-Taught through MIT's Educational Studies Program
-Blogged for MIT admissions (www.mitadmissions.org/annayq.shtml)
-Served as the president, a MedLink, and an Associate Advisor for my dorm, New House
-Cooked for and hung out with my living group, French House
-Performed with the MIT Musical Theater Guild



Past Classes

  (Clicking a class title will bring you to the course's section of the corresponding course catalog)

S8266: Hands-On Science! in HSSP Spring 2014 (Mar. 01, 2014)
Learn science the right way! Explore concepts in subjects like astronomy, geology, math, and rocketry through hands-on activities and experiments. We'll use materials such as marshmallows, clay, and jelly beans to investigate scientific ideas.


S7709: The Multicolor Universe in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Your eyes are powerful: you can distinguish between reds and blues, yellows and greens, purples and oranges. This "visible" light, however, is just a TINY fraction of the light in the universe. Powerful celestial objects like black holes emit x-rays and gamma rays, which your eyes can't see, and pulsars emit radio waves. Quasars emit ultraviolet light (the same kind that fries your skin if you don't wear sunscreen!) and interstellar dust emits infrared light. To see all the colors in the universe, astronomers send telescopes like Hubble, Spitzer, and Fermi to space, and build telescopes like the Very Large Array (VLA) of radio telescopes in New Mexico. In this class, you will learn about the objects and processes that emit different kinds of light, all across the electromagnetic spectrum, as well as the telescopes used to study them.


S7715: From Geocentrism to Exoplanets in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
The study of exoplanets - planets around other stars - is one of the hottest fields in astronomy right now. This is a far cry from ancient Greek times, when Ptolemy proposed a model of the universe that put Earth right at its center, and the stars all as one orbiting entity. It's also - this may surprise you - a far cry from the 1920s, when astronomers were arguing over whether the Milky Way was the only galaxy (false. come on, 1920!) and whether the solar system was at the center of it (also false.) The first exoplanet was discovered in 1992, and that changed the world. We now know that each star has, on average, one planet. MIT recently won a NASA grant to launch TESS, a space telescope that will help lead the hunt for more exoplanets. In this class, we will learn about the progression of humanity's efforts to understand our place within the cosmic order, with a particular focus on exoplanets: how we find them, and how they compare to Earth.


S7718: Introduction to Pulsars in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
A star goes supernova: its outer layers explode into space, and in the meantime its core collapses down into a ball of neutrons called a pulsar. Like a lighthouse, the pulsar emits a beam of light (radio waves!) and spins around. Unlike a lighthouse, the pulsar spins at tens to hundreds of times per second. The details of how pulsars "work" are actually still a mystery to physicists. Even so, we've learned a lot about them since their discovery in 1967. In this class, you will learn what pulsars are, how astronomers find them, and how they can be used to learn more about the universe. In particular, this class instructor is currently using pulsars to study the magnetic field of the Milky Way!


P7995: Spontaneous 5-Minute Classes on Whatever You Want in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
You choose the title, we improvise a 5-minute lesson on it! Bring your wackiest topic suggestions, and watch us embarrass ourselves as we teach you about them on the spur of the moment.


L8005: Dramatic Reading: Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead in Splash! 2013 (Nov. 23 - 24, 2013)
Just when you thought you knew the story of "Hamlet," the playwright Tom Stoppard wrote "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead." Join us for a dramatic reading of the text! Coax Hamlet out of madness, bow to Queen Gertrude, and get frustrated as everyone mixes up whether you're Rosencrantz or gentle Guildenstern.


S6829: The Evolution of Our Scientific Answers to Seven Fundamental Questions in HSSP Spring 2013 (Mar. 02, 2013)
The evolution of our answers to seven of the most fundamental questions that humanity has tackled over the centuries. We will discuss the history of each question, its world-changing experiments and ideas, and the modern scientific answer(s). 1) What is the smallest, indivisible building block of matter? From the elements (earth, air, fire, water) to the discovery of the atom to string theory. 2) How old is the earth, and where did it come from? From the back of a tortoise to modern geology, geophysics, and planet formation theory. 3) Where does all the soft, squishy stuff that we call life come from? From the spontaneous generation of maggots to Darwin and evolution. Also, supernovae and comets, because space is cool. 4) What causes disease and how do we stop it? From demons to blood-sucking leeches to visualization techniques like MRI and the discovery of penicillin. A special segment on mental disorders. 5) What is humanity’s place in the universe? From geocentrism to realizing there are other galaxies, to the search for exoplanets. 6) How is information transmitted? Human communication (storytelling, the invention of the telephone) and nature's communication (genetic encoding, wave propagation and the universal speed limit). 7) How and when did the universe begin, and how will it end? From a large rectangular box with lamps, to the Big Bang, to inflationary theory and calculating the age of the universe. Also, the possibility of a multiverse.


S6882: Introduction to Radio Astronomy in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
Radio astronomy is the study of the universe in the radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum: of objects that are totally invisible to the human eye. Radio astronomers use gigantic dishes (like the 100-meter dish in West Virginia) to watch black holes merging and pulsars spinning, or examine galaxies and clouds of interstellar gas. In this class, you will learn a little bit about the history of radio astronomy (what made people think that radio waves could come from space?) and the kinds of awesome science conducted in this part of the spectrum.


S6883: Introduction to Pulsars in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
When a star of a particular mass goes supernova, it leaves behind a tiny dense ball of neutrons called a pulsar. Like a lighthouse, the pulsar emits a beam of light as it spins around (at hundreds of times per second!) The details of pulsar physics are still mysteries to astrophysicists. In this class, you will learn what pulsars are, how astronomers find them, and how they can be used as tools to understand more about the universe.


S6884: Introduction to Radio Astronomy in Spark! 2013 (Mar. 16, 2013)
Radio astronomy is the study of the universe in the radio part of the electromagnetic spectrum: of objects that are totally invisible to the human eye. Radio astronomers use gigantic dishes (like the 100-meter dish in West Virginia) to watch black holes merging and pulsars spinning, or examine galaxies and clouds of interstellar gas. In this class, you will learn a little bit about the history of radio astronomy (what made people think that radio waves could come from space?) and the kinds of awesome science conducted in this part of the spectrum.


S6077: Introduction to Pulsars in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
When a star explodes into a supernova at the end of its life, it leaves behind a "pulsar". A pulsar is an ultra-dense neutron star, that emits a beam of light as it spins around (at hundreds of times PER SECOND!) just like a light-house. Pulsars are extremely dense, and have extremely powerful magnetic fields - the details of their properties and behavior are still mysteries to astrophysicists. In this class, you will learn about what pulsars are, how astronomers find them, and how they can be used as tools to understand more about the universe.


S6130: Introduction to Radio Astronomy in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
(PSST: If you like awesome pictures of space, you should take this class.) Have you ever heard of radio astronomy? Most people haven't. Radio astronomy is a special kind of astronomy; it uses big dishes (like your satellite dish!) instead of telescopes to look at space. Radio astronomy has revolutionized the study of black holes, galaxies, and the Big Bang - and has discovered objects like pulsars that we would never have known about otherwise!


S6362: Cool Topics in Modern Physics - Session 1 in Splash! 2012 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2012)
This class will be a series of very short (7-8 min.) lightning lectures on various topics in modern physics, designed to give a conceptual overview of each topic and what is interesting and exciting about it. Session 1 will include topics like Special Relativity, General Relativity/Cosmology, The Early Universe/Inflation, Unsolved Problems in Physics (quantum theory of gravity, what's going on with dark energy/dark matter), and the LHC/the Higgs particle.


S5701: Introduction to Cosmology in HSSP Spring 2012 (Feb. 18, 2012)
Cosmology is the study of the universe on the biggest scales: scales on which galaxy clusters look like smears and the universe can be thought of as one object expanding through space and time. In this class, we will talk about relativity, spacetime, black holes (black holes are awesome!), the fundamental forces of nature, dark matter, dark energy, and inflation - in order to understand how the universe began, how it is changing, and how it will end (if ever.)


S5358: Senses and Sense-abilities in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
Come learn the neuroscience behind your five senses! We'll run through the basics of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste, through brief lectures, demos, and experiments.


E4570: Rockets and Composites in Spark! 2011 (Mar. 12, 2011)
Ever want to learn how rockets are designed and built? How about how to use composite materials, which if used properly, can have significant benefits over traditional materials, such as metals. This class will discuss how rockets work and what goes into the design of a rocket. Then it will discuss how composites are generally fabricated and students will get a chance to make their own rocket fins out of composite materials.