Beatrice Tinsley loved music, she loved math, she enjoyed being in the outdoors and she was completely unafraid to speak her mind, blithe to authority.
As a child Beatrice dreamt of being a scientist. Her path to becoming one started in Chester, England, where she was born in 1941, then continued to New Zealand with her family shortly after the end of WWII. There she would go to college, earn a Masters of Science in Physics, marry a classmate. Life then took them to the U.S. where her husband took a job in Dallas, Texas. And where Beatrice, who already caused uproar by refusing to host a tea party when hosting was her turn, decided to pursue her dream and enrolled in the PhD program at UT-Austin. Her commute each way was 200 miles. But she earned top scores on exams, conducted pioneering research in the evolution of universes, and in 1966 earned her doctorate.
But still, this was the 1960s and Beatrice was a woman. A job was hard to come by. After years of struggle to find a position, in 1974 she become an assistant professor of astronomy at Yale.
At Yale, she conducted groundbreaking work, won awards, published over 100 articles, mentored many women scientists. She was known for being confident, positive, devoted to her work, an inspiration to others, enthusiastic, interested in her research and that happening in the field. And for some, as the “Queen of the Cosmos.”
In 1978, Beatrice became a professor of astronomy at Yale, the first woman to do so. That year she was also diagnosed with cancer, melanoma. Three years later she passed away at the age of 40.
“Astronomer Beatrice Tinsley – a snapshot biography.” sources:
- “Beatrice Hill Tinsley.” Goodsell Observatory, Carleton College Department of Physics and Astronomy.
“UC Legend – Beatrice Tinsley.” University of Canterbury
Note: Please click here to read a Snapshot Biography of another astronomer, Williamina Fleming.