Meet Ed Prather
Who I am and
What I Do
I spend the majority of my time teaching courses, conducting research into student beliefs and learning difficulties, and developing new activities to help students learn about selected astronomy and physics topics. My work currently focuses on the topic of astrobiologythe search for life in the universe.
I feel lucky to be a scientist. My job provides me with the opportunity to work with a wide variety of intelligent, passionate, and very interesting people, while also having the chance to be creative, and to think very deeply about cutting edge topics a the horizon of scientific discovery. For myself, the most exciting and rewarding part of my job is the opportunity to work with studentssometimes as their teacher, and other times as a researcher trying to uncover the difficulties they have when trying to learn physics and astronomy.
While Growing Up
I still liked to work on cars, but I felt that there was something more I wanted to do with my life. By the time I came to this realization, I was already in my early twenties, and I decided to go back to school. I was not sure what I wanted to study, but I discovered that I was good at math.
I had never taken a physics class in high school, and I immediately fell in love with this subject during my first college course. I was amazed to find out that there was a subject that seemed to describe how the entire physical world around me worked. I remember the feeling of self-empowerment that this new found understanding gave me. For the first time in my life I felt like I truly understood how all the facets of my race cars and motorcycles operated. I also discovered that for me the best part of learning physics was working in groups with other students on our homework and projects.
My career was set, I was going to get my Ph.D. in Physics, and teach at the college level. Along the way, I also discovered astronomy. By the time I was done with my bachelor's degree at the University of Washington, I had a double degree in both Physics and Astronomy. Four years later, I finished my Ph.D. in Physics at the University of Maine.
The path I took to becoming a physicist and astronomer is not the typical one. I was not very good at math when I was young, I didn't find science particularly interesting when I was in high school, and I didn't go to college for over seven years after I had graduated from high school.
Last Updated: June 12, 2002