Neil deGrasse Tyson

Space Communicator Award Winner, Neil deGrasse Tyson.
Neil deGrasse Tyson. Download hi res copy. NASA photo.

Space Communicator Award: Neil deGrasse Tyson
[Dyson, Marianne, 2008 RNASA Program Book, April 25, 2008]

The RNASA Foundation selected astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, PhD, to receive the 2008 Space Communicator Award.

Listen to his acceptance speech (Part 1 and Part 2) on YouTube.

Tyson is an astrophysicist and the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York City.

RNASA Advisor Jeffrey E. Carr said, "Dr. Tyson commands an uncommon grasp of the connections between the human and astrophysical elements of our universe, and our need as humans to explore it. His remarkable ability to bring those connections to life for audiences in ways that are understandable, entertaining and compelling has contributed immeasurably to the public's understanding of and support for space exploration."

Tyson is the author of eight books that have educated millions of people on space topics. His latest, Death By Black Hole — and Other Cosmic Quandaries (W.W. Norton, New York, 2007), was a New York Times bestseller. He is a contributing essayist for Natural History magazine under the title "Universe," and has become a recognized spokesman for space science through his role as on-camera host for the PBS-NOVA 4-part mini-series "Origins" which aired in September 2004, and its spin-off program NOVA "ScienceNow," a look at the science that shapes the understanding of our place in the universe.

As a member of the NASA Advisory Council since 2006, Tyson helps guide the Agency in implementing its vision within its limited budget. He previously served on the nine-member Presidential Commission on the Implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy that produced the report, A Journey to Inspire, Innovate, and Discover in 2004.

In explaining why space is important, Tyson wrote in Parade magazine (August 2007) that "Science and technology are the greatest engines of economic growth the world has ever seen. Without regenerating homegrown interest in these fields, the comfortable lifestyle to which Americans have become accustomed will draw to a rapid close."

Born in New York City the same week NASA was founded, by the time Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, Tyson had already identified the universe as his life's passion. This interest drove him to earn a BA in physics from Harvard in 1980, a MA in astronomy from the University of Texas in 1983, and a PhD in astrophysics from Columbia in 1991. He joined the staff at the American Museum-Hayden Planetarium in 1994, and became director in 1996. In parallel, he served as a visiting research scientist with Princeton from until 2003, when he became a research associate at the Museum. His areas of study include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of the Milky Way.

Tyson has received numerous honors and Stellar Awards, including nine honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal. On the lighter side, he was named by People magazine as the Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive in 2000 and holds the record for the most appearances on "The Colbert Report." Chosen by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007, Tyson resides in New York City with his wife and two children.

The RNASA Foundation is pleased to recognize Dr. Neil Tyson as one of the world's most inspirational, influential, and passionate communicators.

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