Award-winning astrophysicist to address FSU community

Jedidah Isler, first black woman to receive a doctorate in astrophysics from Yale University (Stephen Sartori)

The first black woman to receive a doctorate in astrophysics from Yale University, Jedidah Isler, will speak to Florida State University students, faculty and community members about her trailblazing journey as a minority woman in STEM.

The event, “A Love Affair with The Night Sky: My Journey of Discovery,” is sponsored by a number of FSU organizations, but the idea to invite Isler came from Nancy Marcus, the dean of FSU’s Graduate School.

“We are very excited that Dr. Jedidah Isler will be visiting Florida State University to share her compelling personal story of how she came to be an astrophysicist,” Marcus said. “It is my hope that students especially will find her presentation both inspiring and motivating.”

The event, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, in the Durell Peaden Jr. Auditorium, 1115 W. Call St.

Isler is an award-winning astrophysicist, TED fellow, National Geographic Emerging Explorer and founder and host of the YouTube web series, “Vanguard: Conversations with Women of Color in STEM.”

Women make up 48 percent of the workforce, according to the latest census. However, only 24 percent of them are in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) related fields. A recent report from the National Science Foundation revealed that 1 in 10 employed scientists and engineers are minority women.

FSU’s Student Support Services-STEM program is one of the event sponsors.

Dr. Asha Brewer, director for SSS-STEM, said she is encouraging her students to attend. Many of them are minorities and the first in their families to attend college.

“What I try to translate to them is that Dr. Isler is in the generation immediately ahead of you,” Brewer said. “She isn’t someone you read about in a textbook; this isn’t a history lesson. This is someone living and breathing — so I think it’s really important, especially with the students I work with a lot, to bring in someone who can identify in some way with their story.”

During her talk, Isler will share her personal story of blazing a trail at Yale University and share practical tips for students currently engaged in their own journeys of discovery. She also will talk about her ongoing work to highlight the contributions and experiences of women of color in STEM and her advocacy for a more just and inclusive scientific enterprise.

Other sponsors of the event include the College of Arts and Sciences, the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, the Student Government Association’s Golden Tribe Lecture Series and the Physics Graduation Student Association.