Astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi discusses his work to deepen our understanding of the universe, the possibility of life on other planets and why he believes his unlikely personal path can inspire the next generation of scientists.
On his commitment to inspiring others to join the field of science: “Once I got to Stanford University I saw what I thought was a big injustice. I looked around at the people around me, and I said, ‘You people aren’t smarter than the people back in Mississippi. But there’s a big difference in the education, the opportunities, the access.’ And so I said, ‘I’m going to do what I can to end this injustice.’… I want to give people that sense of knowing that anybody can do these sorts of things. You don’t have to be born into special circumstances of race, gender, money. All you have to do is have the passion and get an education.”
On the future of space exploration: “There is a place for the private sector and a place for the public. There are certain things that aren’t going to generate a profit, right? Then there is the stuff that will generate a profit. Just getting things in space – that is not anything to be taken for granted. There’s a different perspective on whether or not we should be doing the space thing, whether or not we should be colonizing other planets.… Maybe the key is to have a big space station around Earth so you go back and forth…. But we know ultimately the Earth isn’t going to last, right? The sun gets a little bigger every day. In a billion years the Earth isn’t going to be inhabitable, right? Will humans last a billion years? Well, no other species that’s macroscopic has. So, you know, we definitely have to do this sort of thing…. It should be all hands on deck. Let’s make it happen. We need energy. We need resources. Let’s do this.”