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Photo by: Juana Martinez
Getting to know Chadwick and Kaisa Young
April 27, 2017
Kaisa and Chadwick Young, professors of Physics, met as they were completing their Doctorate of Philosophy at the University of Texas in Austin.
Kaisa grew up in the suburbs of Kansas City, Missouri. As a child, she dreamed of becoming a nurse or veterinarian. It was during a high school field trip to the Kansas City’s medical school that she realized the medical field was not for her.
“When I got to high school, I realized I could not go into the medical field,” Kaisa said. “I went on a field trip and almost passed out at the medical school of Kansas City. I knew I wanted to do something relating to science. I started reading about astronomy and I was just fascinated.”
Chadwick grew up in a rural town of Mississippi. Growing up, he wanted to pursue various occupations. He wanted to be a zookeeper, architect, engineer, join the Navy and eventually realized he wanted to be a physicist.
As he completed his undergraduate degree at Mississippi State University, Chadwick discovered his dislike for nuclear physics.
“In college, I hooked up with this group that was doing nuclear physics research,” Chadwick said. “I hated it. They were measuring the radioactive levels of dirt. We had a big bucket of dirt in the lab.”
He later realized he enjoyed working with students.
“I got to TA a couple of classes and I really liked it,” Chadwick said. “I enjoyed working with the students and enjoyed seeing them understand things. I enjoy teaching and like to think that I started in college.”
It was during a summer internship in Los Alamos, New Mexico that Chadwick grew an admiration for astronomy.
“I really loved it. I was doing astronomy research. That’s when I decided to do astronomy my second or third year of college,” Chadwick said.
While Kaisa was obtaining her undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri, she discovered her interest for physics.
Kaisa and Chadwick enjoy working together on the same campus and don’t believe they’ll ever want to work separately.
“We love working together,” Kaisa said. “It’s hard for us to imagine working in different places. There was a time when I was at home and [Chadwick] worked; I was always bringing the kids on campus. Working together works well for us. We have the same teaching and researching approach. It feels like a privilege for us.”
Since starting at Nicholls, Kaisa and Chadwick started the “Ask the Prof” luncheons where students have the chance to discuss issues pertaining to science and faith.
“As astronomers and Christians, people sometimes see that as a disconnect,” Chadwick said. “They think those two things don’t mix well with each other. We’re Christians before we’re astronomers. We wanted a place where students could talk about issues of science and faith. I think a lot of students struggle with that.”
This summer, the Young family plan to travel to Europe and spend time in Finland visiting family. From there, they’ll make their way to France and Germany.
Chadwick believes it’s okay for students to be figuring things out. Kaisa advises students to not stress too much about the future.
“For me, when I graduated from college, things pretty much occurred the way that I planned but I didn’t expect to get married, have a baby and quit working,” Kaisa said. “It’s good to have dreams and goals, but it’s also good that you look for other opportunities.”