Daliah Raquel Bibas is a second-year Geology & Planetary Sciences Master’s Degree Candidate at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. This comes after earning a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Biology & Medical Sciences in April 2021, also at Western.
“I always knew I loved sciences – I have been asking questions about life since I was a child,” said Bibas. “Questions like ‘How did life start?’ and ‘Does life exist beyond Earth?’ were regularly in my mind. I have always felt a strong urge to seek answers to these questions.”
Initially, Bibas pursued an undergraduate degree in Medical Sciences because she aspired to attend medical school. However, this all changed in her third year when she took Astrobiology as an elective saying she fell in love with it, later adding Biology to her major while looking for graduate programs in Astrobiology.
“I have always been intrigued by the concept of life and the existence of life beyond planet Earth, but I never considered it as a potential career path before taking this course,” said Bibas. “The course material really opened my eyes to the amount of knowledge that is still unknown and awaiting to be discovered. Since then, my focus has shifted to Earth and Space Sciences, and I have been reading and learning about these topics as much as I can, both in school and in my free time.” Bibas credits Carl Sagan as being her inspiration, saying both his writings and research gives her so much fulfillment. Like her hero, Bibas also believes there is life beyond the Earth and her goal is to dedicate her life to finding it.
“By pursuing a master’s degree, I am provided with the knowledge, experience, and network required to achieve my career objectives,” said Bibas. “I hope to make contributions to the emerging field of Astrobiology and believe that a master’s of science degree in this field will ultimately lead me to the next step in my academic and professional career.”
Bibas gives enormous praise to both Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration and her advisor, Dr. Gordon Osinski, saying his research is what drew her to the program. She adds his enthusiasm and passion for his work is “truly contagious”, and she feels fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him. Even with this, Bibas says that time management, work-life balance, and other associated stresses from academia are possibly the hardest challenges for graduate students in science.
“I personally struggle with feeling like I need to be constantly studying while also maintaining a social life, said Bibas. “Keeping motivation and avoiding burnouts can also be difficult. Furthermore, finding a job that doesn’t require years of work experience is a very common challenge for students in my field today.” Bibas says she aspires to earn a PhD with the goal of being involved in both industry and academia, as she sees herself possibly teaching at the university level while conducting industry research.
“In 5-10 years from now, I would like to be an entrepreneur focusing on several projects,” said Bibas. “I am passionate about educating; hence, I would love to teach at a university level and share my knowledge via my own books or podcast. I hope to contribute to the space exploration industry, whether that’s helping plan a NASA sample-return mission or design a future Mars base. In addition, I also want to be a consultant for space-related ventures, such as terraforming Mars or attempting to contact potential intelligent life beyond Earth, and for accurate science in media, such as science fiction movies or documentaries about life on Earth and in the cosmos.”
As always, keep doing science & keep looking up!