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Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Most Popular Astrophysicist in the Universe


Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist and “science communicator” who is popular for his brilliance, humor, and ability to make complex science accessible to everyone. He was born and raised in New York City, where he was educated in the public schools through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. He went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson's professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way.

A renowned author, Tyson released his tenth book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, in February, 2012. Other recent books include the playful and informative Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries, a New York Times bestseller, and The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet, chronicling his experience at the center of the controversy over Pluto's planetary status. 

The PBS/NOVA documentary "The Pluto Files", based on the book, premiered in March 2010. In addition, his book Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, co-written with Donald Goldsmith, is the companion book to the PBS-NOVA 4-part mini-series by the same name, in which Tyson served as on-camera host. He is currently working on a 21st century reboot of Carl Sagan's landmark television series COSMOS, to air in 13 episodes on the FOX network in 2013. 

Tyson has worked with various national commissions on space exploration. In 2001, he was appointed by President Bush to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the Future of the US Aerospace Industry. The final report was published in 2002 and contained recommendations (for Congress and for the major agencies of the government) that would promote a thriving future of transportation, space exploration, and national security.

In 2004, Tyson was once again appointed by President Bush to serve on a 9-member commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, dubbed the Moon, Mars, and Beyond commission. This group navigated a path by which the new space vision can become a successful part of the American agenda. In 2006, the head of NASA appointed Tyson to serve on its prestigious Advisory Council, which will help guide NASA through its perennial need to fit its ambitious vision into its restricted budget.

Tyson has long been a significant “science communicator,” making complex theories in astrophysics accessible and understandable. For five seasons, beginning in the fall of 2006, Tyson appeared as the on-camera host of PBS-NOVA's spinoff program NOVA ScienceNOW, which is a look at the frontier of science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe. In addition, Tyson identified a stable of professional standup comedians in 2009 to assist his effort in bringing science to commercial radio with the NSF-funded pilot program StarTalk. Now also a podcast, StarTalk Radio combines celebrity guests with informative yet playful banter. The target audience is all those people who never thought they would, or could, like science.

Tyson is the recipient of 14 honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a non-government citizen. His contributions to the public appreciation of the cosmos have been recognized by the International Astronomical Union in their official naming of asteroid “13123 Tyson.” More importantly, he was voted Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive by People Magazine in 2000.

Tyson is the first occupant of the Frederick P. Rose Directorship of the Hayden Planetarium. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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December 1, 2012