The first sign that Jason Davis had found himself the right major came when he looked around the room in Laird Thompson’s Astronomy 100 class.
“I was having the time of my life while the rest of the class was sleeping,” he says. “It occurred to me that this might be the field of study I wished to pursue.“
And so, already a couple years into his Illinois experience, the Class of 2000 grad made a major move he hasn’t regretted for one moment since.
So long, Life Sciences. Hello, Astronomy.
”I walked over to the astronomy building and talked to a secretary about my thoughts," Davis says. "She directed me to my would-be advisor, James Kaler.
“With no appointment, Dr. Kaler talked to me for a couple of hours about life, the universe and everything. I was sure this was the department for me.
“Only later did I realize that Dr. Kaler was a prolific author of astronomy-related texts and a giant in the field of stellar astronomy. I was amazed that such a distinguished professor to take so much time out of his schedule to talk to me about my future in astronomy.
“Upon graduation, Jim — he makes me call him Jim — helped me find an internship in the planetarium world, and then again helped me get my first full-time position. It’s been about 19 years for me here at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and I am currently the Director of Astronomy for the Nathan and Fannye Shafran Planetarium.