The University of Texas at Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington
Maverick Speakers Series - Neil deGrasse Tyson

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Astrophysicist, author, and television host

A conversation on "The Cosmic Perspective": How the astrophysicist views life, the universe, and everything

February 17, 2009 · 8:00 pm · Texas Hall


Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City, where he was educated in the public schools through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson's professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way. Tyson obtains his data from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as from telescopes in California, New Mexico, Arizona, and in the Andes Mountains of Chile.

In 2001, Tyson was appointed by President Bush to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the Future of the U.S. Aerospace Industry. The final report was published in 2002 and contained recommendations (for Congress and for the major agencies of the government) that would promote a thriving future of transportation, space exploration, and national security.

In 2004, Tyson was once again appointed by President Bush to serve on a 9-member commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, dubbed the "Moon, Mars, and Beyond" commission. This group navigated a path by which the new space vision can become a successful part of the American agenda. And in 2006, the head of NASA appointed Tyson to serve on its prestigious Advisory Council, which will help guide NASA through its perennial need to fit its ambitious vision into its restricted budget.

In addition to dozens of professional publications, Dr. Tyson has written, and continues to write for the public. He is a monthly essayist for Natural History magazine under the title "Universe." And among Tyson's books is his memoir The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist; and Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution, co-written with Donald Goldsmith. Origins is the companion book to the PBS-NOVA 4-part mini-series Origins, in which Tyson serves as on-camera host. The program premiered in September 2004. Tyson also appeared as the on-camera host of PBS-NOVA's spinoff program NOVA ScienceNow, which is an accessible look at the frontier of all the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe. Tyson's playful and informative book Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries was a New York Times bestseller.

Tyson is the recipient of nine honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. His contributions to the public appreciation of the cosmos have been recognized by the International Astronomical Union in their official naming of asteroid "13123 Tyson." On the lighter side, Tyson was voted "Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive" by People Magazine in 2000.

Tyson is the first occupant of the Frederick P. Rose Directorship of the Hayden Planetarium. Tyson lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Books by Neil deGrasse Tyson

The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet (2009)

Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries (2007)

The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist (2000/2004)

Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution (with D. Goldsmith) (2004)

My Favorite Universe (2003)

City of Stars: A New Yorker's Guide to the Cosmos (2002)

Cosmic Horizons: Astronomy at the Cutting Edge (2000)

One Universe: At Home in the Cosmos (2000)

Just Visiting This Planet (1998)

Universe Down to Earth (1994)

Merlin's Tour of the Universe (1989)