Press Releases

Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics Director to Explain the Mystery of Black Holes

Oakland, CA–April 8, 2014 The growth of supermassive black holes will be the topic of discussion at this year’s Russell Women in Science Lecture Series at Mills College. The annual event, set for Tuesday, April 29, 2014, will feature Meg Urry, director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics, in a lecture titled “Black Holes, Galaxies, and the Evolution of the Universe: An Observer’s View.”

Open to the public, the lecture will examine what black holes are and how we can study them using a variety of telescopes. Urry—the first woman tenured by Yale University’s Physics Department and a former senior scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute, which runs the Hubble space telescope—will describe how her research sheds new light on the growth of supermassive black holes, and will use computer simulations to illustrate the contemporaneous evolution of their host galaxies.

Urry is the Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy and recent chair of the Physics Department at Yale, and is the incoming president of the American Astronomical Society. She has published over 230 refereed research articles on supermassive black holes and galaxies and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and American Women in Science. She is known for her efforts to increase the number of women in the physical sciences, for which she won the 2010 Women in Space Science Award from the Adler Planetarium as well as the prestigious 2012 George Van Biesbroeck Prize for service to astronomy.

Photo Credit: NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration

“I’m honored to come to a distinguished women’s college like Mills to lecture about astonishing developments in astrophysics that give us new insights into the evolution of the universe,” said Urry. “I’m also excited to spend a day on campus talking to students and encouraging them to pursue science as a career.”

Funded by former Trustee Cristine Russell ’71, the annual Russell Women in Science Lecture Series at Mills introduces students to leading female scientists and highlights the career opportunities available to young women in the sciences. Studies show that American women’s colleges have a strong track record of producing female leaders in the sciences and graduating women in the field at up to twice the rate of coeducational institutions.

Russell is an award-winning journalist who has written about science, health, and the environment for more than three decades. She earned a biology degree from Mills and is currently a senior fellow and lecturer at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and the immediate past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

“We’re proud to host Dr. Urry and hear her insights not only on the mysteries of the cosmos but also on her life as a respected scientist,” Russell said. “Dr. Urry is living proof that not even the sky is the limit for women in the sciences as they push through every boundary in the pursuit of knowledge.”

Russell Women in Science Lecture Series
Meg Urry, Director of the Yale Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics
“Black Holes, Galaxies, and the Evolution of the Universe: An Observer’s View”
Tuesday, April 29, 2014
5:00 pm
Mills College, Jeannik Méquet Littlefield Concert Hall
Doors open at 4:30 pm for a pre-lecture reception in the Lorry I. Lokey Graduate School of Business Gathering Hall

The event is free and open to the public.
Please RSVP by April 22, 2014
Check out our Facebook page and invite your friends!

For interviews with Meg Urry please contact Jeanne Herrera at 510.430.2300.

About Mills College
Nestled in the foothills of Oakland, California, Mills College is a nationally renowned, independent liberal arts college offering a dynamic progressive education that fosters leadership, social responsibility, and creativity in approximately 1,000 undergraduate women and 600 graduate women and men. The College ranks as one of the Best 378 Colleges in the country and one of the greenest colleges in the nation by The Princeton Review. U.S. News & World Report ranked Mills one of the top-tier regional universities in the country and lists it among the top colleges and universities in the West in the “Great Schools, Great Prices” category. For more information, visit


Last Updated: 4/28/14