Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson and the Role of Mentors in Science

Monday, March 10, 2014

As a high school senior, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson boarded a bus from New York City to Ithaca, NY to meet his idol, Carl Sagan, at Cornell University. 

Sagan, now remembered as the host of the original "Cosmos" series on PBS, encouraged Tyson's interest in astrophysics. The meeting had a profound impact on Tyson, who is host of the new "Cosmos" series, which premiered this weekend on Fox and the National Geographic Channel. 

See Also: Ann Druyan, Wife of the Late Carl Sagan, Reflects on Cosmos

So many young scientists realized their love of the topic through "Cosmos" and Sagan's unique presentation. Alex Teachey discovered the original series after he graduated from college with a degree in theater. The series so inspired him that Teachey decided to return to school to become a high school physics teacher. He's now a student at Hunter College and an intern at the American Museum of Natural History. 

Emily Rice also enjoyed "Cosmos," but took her inspiration from her love of math and science in high school. Her talent in those subjects led her to astronomy in college, and she decided to pursue the field as a career, earning her PhD in astrophysics.

Today she teaches at the College of Staten Island and the CUNY Graduate Center, and she hopes to inspire many other young scientists through her work as a researcher at the American Museum of Natural History. She also gives public lectures and informal talks throughout New York City as part of the "Astronomy on Tap."

As a professor of astronomy at Wesleyan University, Seth Redfield teaches undergraduates with a wide range of interests. He also works in the surrounding community, spreading his love of astronomy in public school classrooms and community centers in Connecticut.

Together Redfield, Rice and Teachey remember their own scientific mentors, and reflect on the influence of "Cosmos."


Seth Redfield, Emily Rice and Alex Teachey

Produced by:

Jillian Weinberger


T.J. Raphael

Comments [1]

Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Shows and scientific exploration like "Cosmos" grounds me...

We pull out the telescope to look at the big picture, we pull out the microscope to examine what is under the surface. That lens and what we can see tells us a lot about our universe and about ourselves.

Mar. 10 2014 01:07 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.