Hannah Hoffmann explored the world of science outside nuclear physics at WITS University
Hannah observed herd composition of zebra and wildebeest

Exploring the world of science

As a senior in Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT, Hannah Hoffmann chose to explore the world of science outside nuclear physics at WITS University. “Since it was my last chance to participate in MISTI, I decided to go to literally the other side of the globe and try out a totally different field,” she explains. Hannah’s analytical background was in high demand among the ecologists at WITS University where she was assigned to two projects.

Mapping wildfires and herd composition

For the first of these projects, Hannah learned R (a software environment for statistical computing) and gathered years of NASA satellite imagery to map out trends in how wildfires spread. “In a few weeks,” Hannah says, “I had produced a summary data set that can quickly inform researchers of the local fire trends in any region of the world.” Hannah also worked with a WITS ecologist to gather photographic data on zebra and wildebeest herd composition in a large game reserve. “We spent two weeks in the field. It was such an incredible opportunity,” she says. After gathering data, Hannah analyzed their findings for her supervisor to present at an upcoming conference.

Not every school would have allowed or even encouraged its students to try out a completely different field the summer after their senior year and for that I will be forever grateful. During her final semester at MIT, Hannah has taken a seminar course on bioengineering to stay updated on the field and to explore future career paths.

  • Africa
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  • Nuclear