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America’s First Black African American Woman Astrophysicist

October 12, 2016 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ First Black America News

Meet Jedidah Isler. America’s first Black African Astrophysicist has always been fascinated by what is in the night sky. She has taken that passion along way, working her way toward becoming an astrophysicist though the Astrophysics program at Yale University. Now, she studies blazars—super massive, hyper-active black holes that produce powerful jet streams. Blazars are considered to be the most efficient particle accelerators, as they can transfer energy throughout complete galaxies. – See more at:

Isler was one of three students to be accepted into the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program. This program is a program that works to improve the diversity within the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics field of study. According to studies, these areas do not have many minorities with PhD degrees. So, with this program in place, it helps minorities  with master’s degrees step up to obtain a PhD.

Although Yale employed the program in an effort to diversify its student body, Isler said she didn’t always feel welcome at the school. She shared that during her first year attending the university, she and a group of students went to an all-you-can-eat sushi buffet.

“So there are plates everywhere,” she recalls. Everyone seemed full and content. “And all of a sudden, this kid in my class hands me a pile of his dirty plates” — the student is a white male — “he just kind of hands them to me and says, ‘Here, now go and do what you’re really here to do.’”

jedidah_isler Isler shared that she felt devastated, not only because it actually happened, but it limited how she could react. “If I get really mad, then I’m the angry black woman. But if I give too much concession, then I’m sort of too conciliatory, and it was just weird. It let me know that this is not a safe space for me. … It took me years to get past that.”

And past it she did, as she is now an Astrophysicist who is doing speaking engagements, consulting, and is deeply involved with promoting STEM engagement.

Do you think Isler will be a motivational force in getting other young Black girls interested in fields of study such as science, technology and math?

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  1. Lyndera said on February 18, 2017 12:32 pm:

    I love this article, please continue to be an inspiration in the STEM community!

    1. Justice said on February 24, 2017 12:21 am:

      Thank you. That means a lot!

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