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Celebrating Black Scientists: Neil deGrasse Tyson

We're celebrating Black History Month by highlighting black scientists! Each Thursday of the month on the blog, we'll feature a new black scientist that has or is changing the world as we know it (also featured on our Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn). Our fourth highlighted black scientist is Neil deGrasse Tyson; learn about his work and accomplishments below!



Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator. When he was 14, he received a scholarship from the Explorers Club of New York to view the June 1973 total solar eclipse aboard the SS Canberra. The scientific cruise carried two thousand scientists, engineers, and enthusiasts, including Neil Armstrong, Scott Carpenter, and Isaac Asimov. Tyson obsessively studied astronomy in his teen years, and eventually even gained some fame in the astronomy community by giving lectures on the subject at the age of fifteen. Astronomer Carl Sagan, who was a faculty member at Cornell University, tried to recruit Tyson to Cornell for undergraduate studies.


Neil studied at Harvard University, the University of Texas at Austin, and Columbia University. From 1991 to 1994, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University. Neil's research has focused on observations in cosmology, stellar evolution, galactic astronomy, bulges, and stellar formation. He has held numerous positions at institutions including the University of Maryland, Princeton University, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Hayden Planetarium.


In 1994, he joined the Hayden Planetarium as a staff scientist and the Princeton faculty as a visiting research scientist and lecturer. In 1996, he became director of the planetarium and oversaw its $210 million reconstruction project which was completed in 2000. Since 1996, he has been the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space in New York City. The center is part of the American Museum of Natural History, where Tyson founded the Department of Astrophysics in 1997 and has been a research associate in the department since 2003.


In 2004, Tyson hosted the four-part Origins miniseries of the PBS Nova series, and, with Donald Goldsmith, co-authored the companion volume for this series, Origins: Fourteen Billion Years Of Cosmic Evolution. He again collaborated with Goldsmith as the narrator on the documentary 400 Years of the Telescope, which premiered on PBS in April 2009. Tyson has received a variety of awards, honors, honorary doctorates, and even has a leaping frog species (Indirana tysoni) named after him!


Interested in learning more about Neil deGrasse Tyson? Visit https://neildegrassetyson.com/. Come back next Thursday for a new blog and learn about more black scientists that are changing the world as we know it.

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