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Jedidah Isler First African-American Woman To Receive A Yale PhD In Astrophysics

First Posted: Oct 18, 2015 02:18 PM EDT
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Meet Jedidah Isler. She's the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Yale.

As a child, Isler was fascinated by the night sky. Now at the age of 33, she's one of three students to be accepted into the Fisk-Vanderbilt Bridge Program-a program that works to improve diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

"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 said, in a news release.  

In 2014, Isler completed her award-winning study that examines the physics of particle jets emanating from black holes at the centers of distant galaxies.

"I look at the data. I plot the intensity of light vs its wavelength. We measure how much intensity is produced at each wavelength. There's a characteristic two-peaked spectrum..." she said, according to Wired. "You get to measure time variability. Did the peaks go up or down together or independently? If they don't go up and down together, it's very unlikely you have co-spatial emissions."

Isler uses huge telescopes, including the Fermi space telescope, to examine how black holes work.

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