Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist who popularized science with his books and frequent appearances on radio and television. His greatest contribution to science has not been his research; but rather, his ability to foster an interest in science for all kinds of people.
Born in the Bronx in 1958, Tyson was a talented and passionate student. He became fascinated with astronomy, which notable astrophysicist Carl Sagan as his role model. He received his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from Columbia University in 1989. However, he says that his path towards astrophysics was plagued with societal pressures that almost prevented him from pursuing his career multiple times.
Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium, a published author, radio show host, tv show host, and social media influencer. He has revolutionized how people learn about science. He has worked to create easy and digestible forms in which science can be taught to the average person. He has done this through the Startalks radio show. He has also utilized television with his show Cosmos, where he explains astronomical phenomena through advanced computer-generated imagery. Recently, he has been active on TikTok, where he can be found answering science-related questions that are given to him by fans.
Tyson comes from an African American and Latino background, but refuses to speak on anything regarding his race. Regarding race, he said in a 2014 interview, “I don’t give talks on it. I don’t even give Black History Month talks. I decline every single one of them. In fact, since 1993, I’ve declined every interview that has my being Black as a premise of the interview.” This is because he does not want his success conflated with the fact he is a minority. He claims that race should have nothing to do with his career because he wants people to know him for his knowledge of astrophysics and not his skin color.