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Women in Astronomy 2009

A Tribute to Dr. Beth Brown

Photo collage of Dr. Beth Brown
A Tribute to Dr. Beth A. Brown
Fallen Star
by Howard E. Kea, PhD

She lit up a room with her wonderful smile; she made everyone in her presence feel that they were important. On October 5, 2008 one of our rising stars in Astronomy had fallen. Dr. Beth Brown was an Astrophysicist in the Sciences and Exploration Directorate at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Beth was always fascinated by space; she grew up watching "Star Trek" and "Star Wars", which motivated her to become an astronaut.

Beth pursued her study of the stars more seriously at Howard University where she majored in physics and astronomy. Though learning that her nearsightedness would limit her chances of becoming an astronaut, Beth's love for astronomy continued to grow and she graduated summa cum laude from Howard University.

Beth continued her education at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. There she received a Master's Degree in Astronomy in 1994 on elliptical galaxies and she obtained her Ph.D. in 1998, becoming the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate in Astronomy from the University of Michigan.

After completing her graduate work, Dr. Brown came to NASA Goddard as a National Academy of Science/National Research Council (NAS/NRC) Post-Doctoral Research Associate. In 2001, she was appointed as an Astrophysicist Fellow in the NASA Administrator's fellowship Program (NAFP) and was named a Visiting Assistant Professor at Howard University. Her most recent position was Assistant Director for Science Communications and Higher Education in the Science and Exploration Directorate at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Astronomy community mourns the loss of Dr. Brown for her contributions to the field of astronomy and her contributions in inspiring women and minorities to pursue careers in astrophysics. The Women in Astronomy and Space Science Conference 2009 is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Beth A. Brown (1969-2008).

> Obituary for Dr. Beth A. Brown in Jan. 2009 issue of AAS/CSMA Spectrum