30 Nov 2020

Meet Wanda Diaz Merced

Wanda first noticed her sight loss during her adolescence but experienced a dramatic decrease in her ability to see during her early 20s when she was completing her Bachelor’s degree. She struggled to learn as a result of inaccessibility on campus and she could not see what the professors were writing, nor access any of the textbooks for her degree. Because of this, it took Wanda 6 years to complete her degree, with her determination keeping her pushing through.

Wanda was inspired to become an astronomer whilst at university, but these dreams felt too hard to achieve in a world of science that is visually oriented with telescopes, graphs, images and data sets. Until one day, a colleague introduced her to the audio of a sunburst where she was able to hear the sun and galactic background in real-time.

This led her to develop the art of sonification, where she could turn the data she was receiving into sound with variations in duration and pitch to express the data audibly instead of visually.

This meant that Wanda could fulfil her dreams of becoming an astronomer, and she now leads project Astrosense whilst also doing educational outreach for blind students and advocating for increased accessibility in STEM- proving to millions out there that you can still achieve your dreams in the face of setbacks.

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