Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson delivers Tate Lecture Nov. 1

Astrophysicist and PBS 'NOVA scienceNOW' host Neil deGrasse TysonAstrophysicist and PBS NOVA scienceNOW host Neil deGrasse Tyson visits the Hilltop Tuesday, Nov. 1, to deliver the Jones Day Lecture in SMU’s 2011-12 Willis M. Tate Distinguished Lecture Series. The event begins at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.

Tyson is the first occupant of the Frederick P. Rose Directorship of New York City’s Hayden Planetarium. His research interests include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of the Milky Way. In 2001, he was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on a 12-member commission that studied the future of the U.S. aerospace industry. In 2004, Bush appointed him to serve on a 9-member commission on the implementation of the United States Space Exploration Policy, dubbed the Moon, Mars, and Beyond Commission.

Among Tyson’s nine books are his memoir, The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist, and Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution (co-written with Donald Goldsmith). The latter is the companion book to NOVA‘s 4-part mini-series “Origins,” in which Tyson serves as on-camera host. His latest works are the New York Times bestseller Death By Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries and The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet, which chronicles his experience at the center of the controversy over Pluto’s planetary status. The PBS/NOVA documentary “The Pluto Files,” based on the book, premiered in March 2010.

Since Fall 2006, Tyson has served as on-camera host of PBS’ NOVA spinoff program NOVA scienceNOW, which presents an accessible look at the frontiers of the sciences that shape our understanding of the universe. In August, it was announced that Tyson will host a sequel to Carl Sagan‘s groundbreaking 13-part series, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. The new series, Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey, is scheduled to air in 2013 on Fox.

Tyson has received 12 honorary doctorates and the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award given by NASA to a non-government citizen. In addition, the International Astronomical Union named an asteroid in his honor in 2001; Asteroid 13123 Tyson was discovered in 1994 at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory.

Born and raised in New York City, Tyson was educated in the city’s public schools until his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. He earned his B.A. degree in physics from Harvard and his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Columbia.

The evening lecture is sold out. Tyson will answer questions from SMU community members and local high school students in the Turner Construction/Wells Fargo Student Forum at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 1 in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater. The event is free, but seating is limited. SMU faculty, staff and students are encouraged to attend; RSVP online to ensure a place.

> Learn more about this year’s Tate Lectures at

Tate Distinguished Lecture Series announces schedule for 2011-12 season

Fareed ZakariaSMU’s 30th season of the Tate Distinguished Lecture Series has been posted online and features prominent names such as Fareed Zakaria, Meg Whitman, Bill Moyers and (in something of an unofficial school tradition) a return appearance by moderator David Gergen.

One Fall 2010 speaker is yet to be announced. All lectures take place at 8 p.m. in McFarlin Auditorium.

The upcoming season features these speakers:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 6, 2011 – Senior statesman and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III and Newsweek International editor and CNN analyst Fareed Zakaria (pictured) will be joined by returning moderator David Gergen, former presidential advisor and CNN senior political commentator.
  • Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011Meg Whitman (pictured), former president and CEO of eBay and recent runner-up for the Governorship of California.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2011Neil DeGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of PBS’ popular program NOVA Science Now, a program dedicated to examining our current role and position in active scientific frontiers and pursuits.
  • Meg Whitman

  • Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012Dambisa Moyo, international economist and best-selling author of How the West Was Lost and Dead Aid, named one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World by TIME Magazine in 2009.
  • Thursday, Mar. 1, 2012Michael Pollan, best-selling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and a major contributor to the 2008 Academy Award-nominated documentary, “Food, Inc.”
  • Tuesday, Mar. 27, 2012 – President and CEO of The Aspen Institute Walter Isaacson, chair of Teach for America and a noted biographer.
  • Tuesday, May 1, 2012 – Pulitzer-winning columnist and Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer and former Johnson Administration press secretary and journalist Bill Moyers.

For more information, visit the Tate Distinguished Lecture Series website.