Apr 15, 2021People & Industry

SmP 2021: A chat with Jake, who loves space

Astronomer, science communicator, and all-round good bloke Jake Clark may not have reached the stars yet, but he was certainly over the moon when he earned a scholarship from Science meets Parliament last month. 

The event, organised by Science & Technology Australia (STA), is one of the nation’s premier gatherings in the scientific calendar, recognising the important contribution of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) professionals. 

Jake was the proud recipient of the Brighter-sponsored Regional Scholarship, which highlights the contribution of STEM professionals based in rural and regional parts of Australia. Rural Australian locations are important to the continued success of many industries, including the natural gas sector.

Jake says that the lessons learnt throughout the scholarship will undoubtedly carry over for the rest of his career. An Adelaide native and current PhD student at the University of Southern Queensland, Jake has held a passion for the stars since his youth and is a strong advocate for improving scientific literacy in schools. 

I remember waking up my dad when I was about six or seven years old in the middle of the night and I told him I wanted to wave to Andy, Andy being Dr Andy Thomas, the second Australian astronaut to go into space,” Jake explains. 

“Dad would walk out with me, and I reckon he’d point at a random star and go, ‘There he is!’, but that’s the level of enthusiasm and passion that I’ve always had. 

This passion extended into Jake’s higher education as an Astrophysics graduate at the University of South Australia. Jake then called upon his media savvy post-graduation to deliver engaging science lectures to youth across regional Australia as a science communicator for the Questacon Science Circus.

It makes for relevant connections to learning, and you don’t even feel like it is learning because you have that much fun participating in it, Jake says. 

Now that the latest SmP event is the rear-view mirror, what’s next for our accomplished scholar? 

The answer lies Stateside as Jake packs his bags for a move to San Antonio, Texas to join the Southwest Research Institute as part of his upcoming Fulbright Future Scholarship. 

It’s super exciting. They were involved with the New Horizons mission that went past Pluto. We’re going to be working on brand new ways to find planets,” Jake says. 

But when he isn’t finding planets, Jake likes to find some time for himself, indulging his twin interests of sports and metal. He plays footie at USQ for his university team, the Cougars, and follows just about every ball sport you can put a name toA passionate metalhead since his school days, he has interviewed several famous metal bands such as Slayer and Killswitch Engage 

But when he’s not headbanging or barracking, he also likes a sesh on the Switch, calling the latest Animal Crossing game a “beautiful way to zen and get out of the world for a bit”. 

To find out more about Jake, visit his website here.