Real-Life Superhero of the Week: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Real-Life Superhero Neil deGrass Tyson

Our Real-Life Superhero of the Week is famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who turned 57 on Monday. Happy belated birthday!

Born in 1958, Tyson grew up in the Bronx. A visit to the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History sparked Tyson’s interest in astronomy, and he cultivated that interest by taking classes at the planetarium throughout high school.

When Tyson was 17, he had the chance to meet legendary astronomer Carl Sagan. Tyson had applied for college at Cornell University, where Sagan was a professor. The admissions office passed Tyson’s application onto Sagan. This encounter was life-changing for Tyson – spending time with Sagan helped shape the person Tyson became.

Unfortunately for Cornell, Tyson ended up attending Harvard University and graduated with an undergraduate degree in physics in 1980. And in 1983, he earned a master’s degree in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin.

After winning a gold medal at a national Latin Ballroom tournament with the University of Texas dance team in 1985, Tyson went off to teach astronomy at the University of Maryland from 1986 to 1987. He returned to New York in 1988 for a graduate program in astronomy, earning his PhD from Columbia University in 1991. His studies primarily focused on stellar evolution, how a star changes during its lifetime, and cosmology, which focuses on the structures and dynamics of the universe.

In 1994 he started working at the Hayden Planetarium as a staff scientist and was promoted to director in 1995, a position that he still holds today. As director, he managed the planetarium’s reconstruction, which cost $210 million.

Not only has Tyson dedicated himself to field of astronomy, but he’s also been a staunch proponent for NASA, lobbying the Senate for increased funding for the agency. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Tyson to the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. And in 2004, Tyson was also on Bush’s President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.

An accomplished scientist, Tyson has been very successful in sharing what he knows with the world around him. Tyson hosted the PBS show Nova ScienceNow from 2006 to 2011. And in 2014 he hosted Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was actually a reboot of the same show that his mentor Sagan hosted in the 1980s. Heavy topics like astrophysics are hard to distill to the general public – but if you follow him on Twitter, Tyson thrives at it. If you know Tyson’s name, it’s probably because of his frequent appearances on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Or maybe you heard that he doesn’t think Pluto should be a planet. Tyson even appeared in a Superman comic to help the superhero get back to Krypton!

It should come as no surprise that not only does Tyson hold multiple post-graduate degrees, but he’s also received the Public Welfare Medal from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Other honors include the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal and the Science Writing Award.

Neil deGrasse Tyson had a passion for space – and he followed it. His dedication to the field of science has enriched the lives of so many. And for his hard work and dedication, he’s our Real-Life Superhero of the Week.

Enjoyed this? Check out last week’s hero Jimmy Carter!

Written by Roselyn Sebastian

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Our Real-Life Superhero of the Week is famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who turned 57 on Monday. Happy belated birthday!

Born in 1958, Tyson grew up in the Bronx. A visit to the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Natural History sparked Tyson’s interest in astronomy, and he cultivated that interest by taking classes at the planetarium throughout high school.

When Tyson was 17, he had the chance to meet legendary astronomer Carl Sagan. Tyson had applied for college at Cornell University, where Sagan was a professor. The admissions office passed Tyson’s application onto Sagan. This encounter was life-changing for Tyson – spending time with Sagan helped shape the person Tyson became.

Unfortunately for Cornell, Tyson ended up attending Harvard University and graduated with an undergraduate degree in physics in 1980. And in 1983, he earned a master’s degree in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin.

After winning a gold medal at a national Latin Ballroom tournament with the University of Texas dance team in 1985, Tyson went off to teach astronomy at the University of Maryland from 1986 to 1987. He returned to New York in 1988 for a graduate program in astronomy, earning his PhD from Columbia University in 1991. His studies primarily focused on stellar evolution, how a star changes during its lifetime, and cosmology, which focuses on the structures and dynamics of the universe.

In 1994 he started working at the Hayden Planetarium as a staff scientist and was promoted to director in 1995, a position that he still holds today. As director, he managed the planetarium’s reconstruction, which cost $210 million.

Not only has Tyson dedicated himself to field of astronomy, but he’s also been a staunch proponent for NASA, lobbying the Senate for increased funding for the agency. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Tyson to the Commission on the Future of the United States Aerospace Industry. And in 2004, Tyson was also on Bush’s President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.

An accomplished scientist, Tyson has been very successful in sharing what he knows with the world around him. Tyson hosted the PBS show Nova ScienceNow from 2006 to 2011. And in 2014 he hosted Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which was actually a reboot of the same show that his mentor Sagan hosted in the 1980s. Heavy topics like astrophysics are hard to distill to the general public – but if you follow him on Twitter, Tyson thrives at it. If you know Tyson’s name, it’s probably because of his frequent appearances on The Daily Show or The Colbert Report. Or maybe you heard that he doesn’t think Pluto should be a planet. Tyson even appeared in a Superman comic to help the superhero get back to Krypton!

It should come as no surprise that not only does Tyson hold multiple post-graduate degrees, but he’s also received the Public Welfare Medal from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Other honors include the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal and the Science Writing Award.

Neil deGrasse Tyson had a passion for space – and he followed it. His dedication to the field of science has enriched the lives of so many. And for his hard work and dedication, he’s our Real-Life Superhero of the Week.

Enjoyed this? Check out last week’s hero Jimmy Carter!

Written by Roselyn Sebastian

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

  • Comments