She is the first black woman to earn a PhD in astronomy from Yale University.
As much as she loves astrophysics, Isler is very aware of the barriers that still remain for young women of color going into science. “It’s unfortunately an as-yet-unresolved part of the experience,” she says. She works to lower those barriers, and also to improve the atmosphere for women of color once they become scientists, noting that “they often face unique barriers as a result of their position at the intersection of race and gender, not to mention class, socioeconomic status and potentially a number of other identities.”
While Isler recounts instances of overt racial and gender discrimination that are jaw-dropping, she says more subtle things happen more often. Isler works with the American Astronomical Society’s commission on the status of minorities in astronomy.
She also believes that while things will improve as more women of color enter the sciences, institutions must lead the way toward creating positive environments for diverse student populations. That is why she is active in directly engaging young women of color: for example participating in a career exploration panel on behalf of the Women’s Commission out of the City of Syracuse Mayor’s Office, meeting with high-achieving middle-school girls. She is also on the board of trustees at the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST).
“Whether I like it or not, I’m one of only a few women of color in this position,” she says. “Addressing these larger issues of access to education and career exploration are just as important as the astrophysical work that I do.”
Remember, tonight (April 8th) is the best nice to catch Mars glowing brightly! It’ll be approximately at its closest distance to Earth, so it’ll look bigger too. It glows red, and will be visible in the constellation Virgo. Hike up a hill, go to the beach, escape the hazy pollution as best you can to get a good view of this astronomical event :) Happy stargazing! [image source]
‘Borrowed Light’ The last patron of an abandoned observatory takes on an impossible task to show the surrounding city something incredible. A short animation about conflicting existences, natural wonders, and petty theft on a grand scale.
If you missed it, Bob Parks, Executive Director of the International Dark Sky Association delivered a (pun intended) “illuminating” interview on the perils - economically, psychologically, ecologically, astronomically, historically and physiologically - of light pollution on all living organisms of our planet. The feature, “How bad is light pollution?” was broadcast on CBS In The Morning. You can watch the 5-minute segment HERE.
The intriguing mounds of Juventae Chasma revealed by Mars Express
Intriguing mounds of light-toned layered deposits sit inside Juventae Chasma, surrounded by a bed of soft sand and dust.
The origin of the chasma is linked to faulting associated with volcanic activity more than 3 billion years ago, causing the chasma walls to collapse and slump inwards, as seen in the blocky terrain in the right-hand side of this image.
At the same time, fracturing and faulting allowed subsurface water to spill out and pool in the newly formed chasm. Observations by ESA’s Mars Express and NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show that the large mounds inside the chasma consist of sulphate-rich materials, an indication that the rocks were indeed altered by water.
The mounds contain numerous layers that were most likely built up as lake-deposits during the Chasma’s wet epoch. But ice-laden dust raining out from the atmosphere – a phenomenon observed at the poles of Mars – may also have contributed to the formation of the layers.
While the water has long gone, wind erosion prevails, etching grooves into the exposed surfaces of the mounds and whipping up the surrounding dust into ripples.
The image was taken by the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA’s Mars Express on 4 November 2013 (orbit 12 508), with a ground resolution of 16 m per pixel. The image centre is at about 4°S / 298°E.