Assistant Professor, University of Hawaii at HiloMarianne Takamiya


What has surprised you about your career? Is it like you imagined it would be? What surprised me is that the people who are in this career have a wide range of skills and those that stayed in this field and made it their career are the ones who did not give up. I think many very talented and incredibly smart people left the field willingly not because they did not get a job or did not succeed. They gave it up for other choices in their life.

Where did you train for your career? I obtained my B.S. in Physics and M.Sc. in Astronomy at Universidad de Chile. I obtained my Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics at The University of Chicago. I worked on a postdoctoral fellowship at the Gemini Observatories in Hilo, Hawaii and at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

Was there a particular person or event that influenced your career choice? I think I was very lucky to run into several people who encouraged me in many levels especially at the undergraduate level. My classmates, my friends, my professors, and my parents all supported my crazy idea of becoming an astronomer!

Who are YOUR role models? Cecilia Payne-Gaposhkin, Carl Sagan, Subramanyan Chandrasekhar, Henrietta Leavitt and all the women scientists today…

Read more about her career! AstronomerCollege Professor

Bio: Marianne Takamiya works at the University of Hawaii at Hilo where she teaches astronomy, but when she goes to the summit of Mauna Kea to use a telescope at 14,000 feet, it gets chilly! She usually works at the university where she wears jeans, skirts, shirts, blouses, sandals, and tennis shoes depending on her mood, but when she goes to the summit she wears jeans, closed warm shoes, and a thick parka! When we asked her what a typical day at work is, Marianne said, “I start my day by talking to my colleagues and preparing my lectures for the day. Students come to talk about their coursework, their research, and their career goals. In the last few years, I spent a fair amount of time in committees that help our academic program, outreach activities, and research infrastructure.” At the University, Marianne works in the field of astronomy. She likes to learn about the new discoveries in astronomy, as well as re-learning concepts she did not master. As a professor, it is her job to teach students, but sometimes she has students ask for help for their personal problems. She said that she does her best to give good advice, and the experiences she has from her own two kids help her with this!

As an assistant professor, Marianne works with students, scientists, technical people, and secretaries throughout her work day. Qualities she thinks are necessary for her job would be imagination, patience, and being able to stick with it during good and bad times. The most difficult challenge she faces is balancing teaching and research with her personal life. Her recent goals include, “To help grow our department and offer our students research opportunities. Publish papers with my students. And on a very personal level: polish a few piano pieces by Bach and Schubert and win a few more tennis matches to make it to sectionals!”

Outside of work, Marianne likes playing piano and tennis, going to the beach with her kids, hiking, and traveling to new places! She also can tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi only by smelling the drinks!