World-renowned astrophysicist and pop-culture advocate for scientific inquiry
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Neil deGrasse Tyson is a world-renowned astrophysicist who has made the leap to pop culture icon. He is a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Real Time with Bill Maher and appeared (as himself) on The Big Bang Theory.
He was born and raised in New York City and earned his B.A. in physics from Harvard and his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Columbia. Tyson's professional research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way.
Former United States President George W. Bush appointed Tyson to two separate commissions, in 2001 and 2004, to examine the future of the U.S. aerospace industry and to make space exploration a part of the American political agenda. Tyson is also the recipient of 18 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 were recognized by the International Astronomical Union in their official naming of asteroid 13123 Tyson.
Along with his many accolades, Tyson is also a pop-culture phenomenon and media personality. For five seasons, beginning in the fall of 2006, Tyson appeared as the host of PBS-NOVA's spinoff program NOVA ScienceNOW, which offered an accessible look at the frontier of all the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe.
During the summer of 2009, Tyson identified several professional standup comedians to assist his effort in bringing science to commercial radio with the National Science Foundation-funded pilot program StarTalk. Now also a podcast, StarTalk Radio combines celebrity guests with informative and playful banter. The target audience is those people who never thought they would, or could, like science.
Tyson has also written ten books, including his memoir, The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist, and Death by Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandries, a New York Times bestseller.
It should also be noted that People Magazine named Tyson the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive in 2000.
Currently, Tyson is working on a 21st-century reboot of Carl Sagan's landmark television series COSMOS; 13 episodes will air on the FOX network in the spring of 2014. He also serves as the director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.
Learn more about the Lectureship
The Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lecture Series is made possible by a gift from Melva and the late Martin Bucksbaum, longtime member of Drake's governing board. Martin Bucksbaum Distinguished Lectureship Committee: Neil Hamilton (chair), Julian Archer, James Autry, Pamela Bass-Bookey, Melva Bucksbaum, Michael Gartner, G. David Hurd, Sue McEntee, Janis Ruan, Mary Bucksbaum Scanlon, and Eleanor Zeff.