In honour of Black History Month we will be recognising notable contributions to the STEMs from people of African origin. Today we recognise Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Born the second of three children and raised in the Bronx, New York, Dr. Tyson is an astrophysicist, author and science communicator. He is currently director at Hayden Planetarium and an associate professor at the American Museum of Natural History. He completed his BA in Physics at Harvard and PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia University. Although he was a man convinced of a career in science, he considers the mentoring of Dr. Carl Sagan as a great influence in making him the person he is today.
Dr. Tyson’s research interests cover cosmology, galactic astronomy and stellar formation, with his past work contributing to the discovery of dark energy. He holds 17 honorary degrees, an extensive publication list in renowned journals as well as contributions to 12 published books. Aside from research, he is heavily involved in science communication having made appearances on multiple educative TV and radio programs including a radio talk show he launched in 2009. Despite acknowledging that race and gender can present obstacles in pursuing a scientific career, he no longer offers interviews that has his being black as a premise because this can take away from the impact of the science or the work at hand.
Dr. Tyson serves on many boards including the Commission on the Future of the United states Aerospace Industry. He has also received multiple awards such as the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (2004) and Medal of Excellence Award (Columbia University, 2001). He has also made guest appearances on Sci-fi TV shows including a comic book appearance in which he determines the location of Superman’s home planet, Krypton using real world data.