Dr. Jedidah Isler is an award-winning astrophysicist, TED Fellow, and a nationally recognized speaker and advocate for inclusive STEM education. She is also the creator and host of the monthly web series “Vanguard: Conversations with Women of Color in STEM.”
Dr. Isler received her bachelor’s degree at Norfolk State University’s Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences (DNIMAS) before earning a Masters in Physics from the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-Ph.D. Bridge Program, a pioneering effort to increase the attainment of advanced STEM degrees by students of color. Dr. Isler continued her education at Yale University, where her research on supermassive, hyperactive black holes was supported by fellowships from NASA, the National Science Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. In 2014, she became the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Yale, completing an award-winning study that examined the physics of particle jets emanating from black holes at the centers of distant galaxies called blazars. Dr. Isler’s current research focuses on using simultaneous infrared, optical and gamma-ray observations to better understand the physics of these blazar jets.
Dr. Isler has served as a Chancellor’s Faculty Fellow at Syracuse University, an affiliate of the Future Faculty Leader Fellowship at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and is currently an National Science Foundation Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt University. She was recognized as a 2015 TED Fellow for her astrophysical research and innovative efforts to inspire a new generation of STEM leaders from underrepresented backgrounds. She has been invited to Astronomy Night at the White House and featured in various publications including Wired, Diversity in Action, Ebony, NPR:CodeSwitch, and The Crisis Magazine. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times.
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.