News

Dr. Jedidah Isler speaking at Aquinas College

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Story by Mason Glanville, Reporter
Photo courtesy of Vanderbilt.edu

Award winning astrophysicist and TED Senior Fellow Dr. Jedidah Isler will be welcomed to campus as a guest of the St. Albert the Great Lecture Series, Jane Hibbard Idema Women’s Studies Center, the Center for Diversity and Inclusion and the Center for Sustainability on Oct. 30, the day students return from mid-term break.

Delivering two lectures, Dr. Isler will discuss the topics of women of color in STEM and her cutting edge work on supermassive, hyperactive black holes known as blazars. She will use science and stories to discuss “what it means to see the world around us without limits.” Dr. Isler brings special insight, as she is the first woman of color to receive a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Yale University.

Her lunchtime talk will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. and is titled “On the Vanguard: Centering and Highlighting the Voices of Women of Color in STEM.” The evening talk will be from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., titled “Blazing Quasars and Blazing Trails: A Journey of Discovery.”

Both talks promise to be eye opening to all who attend. Dr. Amy Dunham Strand, Director of the JHI Women’s Studies Center at Aquinas is excited for the opportunity the events bring to students, faculty and other guests.

Dr. Dunham Strand says “[attendees can anticipate to] get a sense not only of the amazing research that Dr. Isler does, and the contributions that she makes to the study of Quasars … but also how she came to that study, and what is her personal story.”

With Dr. Isler discussing her work and experience, Dr. Strand says that doors could be opened to some who may not see women of color in hard sciences, like astrophysics, often. This might challenge certain people, but it will empower others.

As a role model for underrepresented people aspiring to primarily white, male-dominated STEM careers, Dr. Strand suggests that Dr. Isler’s example effectuates the theory that “it’s easier to be it if you can see it.”

Strand also says that Dr. Isler’s speaking engagements represent a larger theme. Along with observances like the movie “Hidden Figures” (2016), a powerful film about three women of color integrally involved with NASA during the Space Race, Dr. Strand explains: “We’re finally paying attention to some of these [women’s] stories.” Stories that have been left untold for too long.

Besides teaching about quasars and telling her story, Dr. Isler will also explain how lessons from the cosmos can bring powerful inspiration to people’s everyday lives, just as they did her own.

Additional programming from the JHI Women’s Studies Center this year will continue with the theme of women in STEM, including events featuring Sr. Damien, Dean of Science and Sustainability, and readings with science writer Deborah Bloom in conjunction with the Contemporary Writers Series. The chock-full JHIWSC’s event calendar is available at: http://www.aquinas.edu/womens-center/events.

Dr. Isler’s lectures appeal to a large audience of people, from students to staff to guests of the college. Invitations were sent out to local schools whose students would also benefit from the lectures.

If you are interested in women’s studies, issues related to people of color in STEM, or mysteries of the stars and universe around us, you will find Dr. Isler’s presentations thought provoking and inspiring.

Both talks will take place in the Wege Ballroom.

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