Jedidah C. Isler, Ph.D., Photo credit: Ryan Lash/TED
This HBCU Alumna is the 1st Black Woman to Graduate from Yale with a PhD in Astrophysics
Jedidah Isler was interested in the heavens from the time she was 11 or 12. She had a telescope as a kid, which her sister bought her for her birthday one year. But she didn’t get a chance to pursue astronomy formally until she was in her doctoral program, although she had a number of summer internships and research projects in astronomy starting when she was an undergrad.
Neither my undergraduate school [Norfolk State University in Virginia] nor the school where I got my first master’s degree [Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn.] offered astronomy majors. The closest I could get was physics, which served me well, since I needed to know physics in order to successfully navigate astronomy anyway,” Isler says.
At Fisk, Isler was part of the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s to Ph.D. Program, which aims to increase the number of doctorates among students of color in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The program was designed for the students to get master’s degrees at Fisk, then move on to Vanderbilt for Ph.D.s, but Isler headed for Yale instead.READ MORE