Jackson MacTaggart

Washington, PA

Pennsylvania State University

B.S. Astrophysics/Astronomy, Spring 2023

Jackson was inspired to run a 5K while in 6th grade, so his parents signed him up for one. He

didn’t really train but did well and decided to train for a 10K. While training, his high school

cross country team and their coach saw that he had potential and invited him to train with the

team on a regular basis. He joined his middle school running teams and won nearly every

competition he entered. The same year, Jackson decided what he wanted to study in college after

seeing the movie Interstellar. His father explained the science behind the film, inspiring Jackson

to realize his desire to study astronomy and astrophysics. As a high school freshman, he made

the state cross country championship and was team MVP. He also joined the Amateur

Astronomers’ Association of Pittsburgh. A month before his sophomore year, Jackson joined his

family for a vacation at Bethany Beach. Upon entering the ocean, he was caught in a dangerous

shore-break which caused him impact his head on the seafloor resulting in a C5 burst fracture.