Aquinas College Hosts Award-Winning Astrophysicist

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GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. – Aquinas College is hosting award-winning astrophysicist Dr. Jedidah Isler for two events where she will explore both her perspective on underrepresented groups in STEM fields and her research on hyperactive black holes.

Both events will be in the Wege Ballroom at the Wege Student Center. They’re sponsored by the St. Albert the Great Lecture Series, Center for Diversity and Inclusion, Center for Sustainability and the Jane Hibbard Idema Women’s Studies Center.

12:30-1:30 p.m. Lunchtime Talk: “On the Vanguard: Centering and Highlighting the Voices of Women of Color in STEM”

Dr. Isler will use empirical data, numerous research studies and an intersectional framework to identify why and how the experiences of women of color in STEM differ from that of their white and/or male counterparts. Dr. Isler will also use her personal experience navigating STEM spaces at various levels and institutions as well as the expertise and insight she has gained from founding an online platform specifically to center women of color in STEM and her future plans to use an intersectional framework to create space for other marginalized people in STEM.

7-8:30 p.m. Evening Lecture: “Blazing Quasars and Blazing Trails: A Journey of Discovery”

This talk will blend cutting-edge scientific research with personal storytelling to explore Dr. Isler’s lifelong journey of discovery. As an astrophysicist, Dr. Isler’s work on supermassive, hyperactive black holes known as “blazars” is part of an ongoing effort to better understand the processes of celestial particle acceleration. Reviewing some of the most exciting recent discoveries in the field, this talk will address the way that scientists study the universe. Dr. Isler will also address her experiences as a trailblazer in her field, offering an encouraging and practical set of strategies for students currently in the midst of their own educational journeys. Building upon her passion for both science and promoting the empowerment of underrepresented groups in STEM fields, Dr. Isler will share her stories and observations of what it means to see the world around us without limits.

Dr. Jedidah Isler is an award-winning astrophysicist, TED Fellow, and a nationally recognized speaker and advocate for inclusive STEM education. Her research on supermassive, hyperactive black holes has been supported by fellowships from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Ford Foundation; and in 2014, she became the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Yale. She is also the creator and host of the monthly web series “Vanguard: Conversations with Women of Color in STEM.”

As a speaker, Dr. Isler works with schools, museums, libraries, and nonprofit organizations across the country to advance the cause of truly inclusive STEM engagement and has established herself as a champion of access and empowerment in STEM education from middle school and beyond.