Others may consider math to be a foreign language, but a Belfast lady hopes it will be her ticket to outer space. Dr. Caoimhe Rooney is a scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. Because of her aptitude for numbers, the 29-year-old hopes to one day become an astronaut.

If you’re one of over 22,000 applicants for four spots on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Astronaut Corps, you don’t need a Ph.D. in mathematics to realize it’s a long shot. Dr. Rooney, who has a Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Oxford University, is looking into how distant planets were formed, what they’re made of, and whether they’re capable of supporting life.

According to Dr. Rooney, Mrs. Anderson was the teacher who revived her interest in calculus after she had lost interest in the subject. “It wasn’t until GSCE when I got a really amazing teacher who reinstilled that love of maths, who showed me I could do it, and more importantly that it was a lot of fun,” she said.