“At some moment it clicked and I understood what it meant. Not only was that the moment that I started to like physics, but also the moment I realized everybody can learn physics if they get this key that unlocks the door. You don’t want to leave them in the same state that I was in… wondering why the heck we’re doing this… You want people to get over that hump and suddenly see that this is really simple, straightforward, beautiful, and useful.

- Dr. Meg Urry, Israel Munson Professor of Physics at Yale University.

Dr. Meg Urry directs the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, the first female tenured professor in the Physics department at Yale University. Her research spans actively accreting supermassive black holes, known as Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), and the co-evolution of these black holes with normal galaxies. She served on the faculty for the Hubble space telescope, and is an outspoken advocate for gender equity in science and academia, giving more than 60 talks on sexism in science and technology.

After growing up in Indiana and Massachusetts, Claudia Megan Urry attended Tufts University, double-majoring in mathematics and physics. Graduating in 1977, she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and received the N. Hopps Knight Award for Physics. Urry then joined the doctoral program in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at The Johns Hopkins University, where she served as head teaching assistant and earned a Ph.D. studying X-ray and ultraviolet radiation from AGN.

Dr. Urry has published over 260 peer-reviewed research papers, including articles in Science and Nature. In 2016, Dr. Urry was elected to the National Academies of Sciences, and she is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the Association of Women in Science, the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She served as the Chair of the Physics Department at Yale University and as President of the American Astronomical Society.

 

In addition to her scientific accomplishments, Dr. Urry has a second career advocating for the empowerment and inclusion of women and minorities in science. She is widely published in the popular press and is a regularly invited panelist and speaker covering cultural issues in science, and how to make science safer for women. With Laura Danly, Urry co-organized the first meeting of Women in Astronomy.

 

Meg's bio contributed by KAREN FLEMING.

Portrait by JAMES PORTO.

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