February 11, 2017
The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. Beth Brown.
Beth Brown was born in Roanoke, Virginia where her love of science fiction helped develop her interest in astronomy. After graduating as the valedictorian of William Fleming High School's Class of 1987, she went on to graduate summa cum laude from Howard University in 1991, majoring in astrophysics. Next, she entered the Department of Astronomy at the University of Michigan and in 1998, became the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Astronomy there. She worked with X-ray observations of elliptical galaxies from the Röntgen Satellite (ROSAT; Joel Bregman was her advisor). She compiled and analyzed the first large complete sample of such galaxies with ROSAT and her papers in this area made an impact in the field. Dr. Brown was awarded a National Academy of Science & National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). She stayed at GSFC as a civil servant in the National Space Science Data Center at Goddard she worked on data archival activities as well as education and outreach. In 2006, Brown became an Astrophysics Fellow at GSFC, during which time she worked as a visiting Assistant Professor at Howard University, where she taught and worked with students and faculty to improve the teaching observatory Dr. Brown was an active member of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) and the National Conference of Black Physics Students (NCBPS), where she was a frequent speaker. She was a role model and mentor to many women and minorities in physics and astronomy, and she actively encouraged them to be persistent in their pursuit of careers in these fields. She gave planetarium shows, popular science talks for the public, and spoke to local and national news agencies, where she explained recent NASA science findings. The scientific community lost one of its brightest starts when Beth Brown died, unexpectedly, at the age of 39 from a pulmonary embolism