Jedidah Isler: The untapped genius that could change science for the better
Jedidah Isler - Astrophysicist
Jedidah Isler studies blazars — supermassive hyperactive black holes that emit powerful jet streams. They are the universe’s most efficient particle accelerators, transferring energy throughout galaxies. Full bio
that some of the most interesting things
occur at the intersections,
I mean the space in-between.
of not-quite-here, not-quite-there,
of the world come to mind,
of a seemingly endless stream of people.
in Selma, Alabama,
in Ferguson, Missouri, also come to mind
at the intersection of human beings,
struggle for justice.
landscape of our planet,
are of intersections.
intersection of gas and dust,
this time flung outward
into altogether new and heavier things.
that have special meaning to us.
at an intersection.
in the in-between,
between dreams and reality,
results in a shining example
hyperactive black holes
of massive galaxies
nearby those black holes
to completely understand.
of becoming an astrophysicist
of African-American women in physics,
had ever earned a PhD
with a PhD in an astronomy-related field
of life at an intersection:
of victorious breakthroughs
just after my family had fallen apart.
departure from our lives.
of middle-class life
to make ends meet.
60 percent of women of color
to their educational goals.
provided me with full funding,
my bachelor's in physics.
that I wanted a PhD in astrophysics,
people and programs.
had this beautiful poster
to become physicists.
because it featured a young black girl,
at some physics equations.
at the little girl
copy of the poster,
still hangs in my office.
my educational path,
in pursuit of the PhD.
University Bridge Program,
of the master's and PhD degrees
they accepted me into the program,
on the path to the PhD.
the space that would ultimately give way
to have that degree of liminality
to "do what I really came here to do"
from our meal in front of me to clean up.
and mathematics, or STEM,
of the 60 women of color
by Joan C. Williams at UC Hastings
for the janitorial staff.
interviewed for this study,
with a janitorial position,
were able to attend college
worked these jobs,
to put me in my place.
the acute pain of the encounter,
do not experience the same set of barriers
or just people of color face.
women of color in STEM,
sum of identities.
cannot be appreciated
the liminal space between disciplines.
of understanding the physical world
in the absence of mathematics.
of basic science and math
on the foundation of math,
the critical role of Rosetta Stone,
the physical principles of the world.
without each individual piece.
of the enrichment that is realized
with other disciplines.
Latina, indigenous, First Nation
at the blessed intersection
that you'll become an astrophysicist,
who you imagine yourself to be.
into a world you can't even imagine.
pressing issues of our time,
their intersection with STEM.
issues of our time.
require a thorough investigation
solutions of tomorrow.
their whole lives at the intersections.
the first steps of diversity
and more robust territory
of liminal excellence
after a 10-year bout with breast cancer.
who spearheaded the NASA side
for landing a rover on a comet,
Galileo mission to Jupiter,
and the world.
to states of understanding
that you can't do every day."
the power of a liminal person.
space missions of our time,
in any place she was.
of the SOCCKET line of sports products,
renewable energy as you play with them,
isn't just creating things,
that make this world."
and Jessica Matthews
of race, gender and innovation.
of my right to be in an elite space,
to earn a PhD in astrophysics
of women of color in STEM
and new ideas to life
climate change, genetic editing,
and Mars exploration.
we haven't even thought of yet.
occupy some of the toughest
issues of our time.
and drive these conversations
of a wider variety of lived experience.
to the many intersectional people
in ways that outmatch
born out of a desire to fit in.
to the best possible outcomes
the most excellent expression
of humanity brought to bear.
About the speaker:Jedidah Isler - Astrophysicist
Jedidah Isler studies blazars — supermassive hyperactive black holes that emit powerful jet streams. They are the universe’s most efficient particle accelerators, transferring energy throughout galaxies.
Why you should listen
Jedidah Isler has been staring at the stars since she was 11 or 12. But because neither her undergraduate college or the university where she got her first master’s degree offered astronomy majors, she threw herself wholeheartedly into physics. It wasn’t until she entered a doctoral program that she was able to dedicate her time to the studying the night sky. In 2014, she became the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D in Astrophysics from Yale.
Isler studies blazars — supermassive hyperactive black holes at the center of galaxies, some of which emit powerful streams of particles. Sometimes these are oriented toward Earth, offering us a unique perspective on the physics of the universe. Isler is a Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow in Physics at Syracuse University. She participates in the Future Faculty Leader program at Harvard's Center for Astrophysics and was named a 2015 TED Fellow.
Isler is also interested in breaking down barriers that prevent many students — especially women of color — from becoming scienists. She works to make STEM accessible to new communities.
Jedidah Isler | Speaker | TED.com