Hakeem M. Oluseyi
Astrophysicist and Humanitarian
Hakeem Oluseyi was raised by a single mother in ghettos all across the south—from the Ninth Ward in New Orleans to the Third Ward in Houston, and everywhere in between. As the perpetual new kid in a bad neighborhood, where you proved your worth with your fists, Oluseyi opted to stay indoors and read—a habit his single mother happily supported, bringing home science books for him to devour. Despite being enrolled in some of the lowest-ranking schools in the south, Oluseyi, enthralled with Albert Einstein and the theory of Relativity, set out become a physicist. He made it to Stanford, rising up to become part of a team of scientists who won the Nobel Prize.
Today, Oluseyi develops instruments for astrophysical research in outer space and invents new techniques for manufacturing computer chips. And, he hasn't forgotten his roots: as a member of Hands-On Universe Africa, he helps bring tangible scientific data to schools across underdeveloped nations.
Oluseyi's current science and education projects include being a member of the development team for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, which is the highest priority observatory for the U.S.; and the UNESCO Earth-Observing Satellite, which is a project between the U.S., Russia, and African nations.
With an organization called Cosmos Education, Oluseyi traveled across sub-Saharan Africa, visiting schools to inspire students about science and the relevant issues in their country, such as sustainable development and HIV awareness. As an educator and advisor in the United States, Oluseyi encourages students to pursue their passions, regardless of their economic status. “Some scientists present themselves as super-intellectual, and I go out of my way to present myself as a regular guy,” he says. “Because I’m from such humble origins, I can really talk to students.”
Oluseyi appears as the main narrator in the National Geographic show Evacuate Earth, and has been featured on the Discovery show, You Have Been Warned: the world’s first User-Generated pop science show.
A Universe of Innovation: How Science Inspires Our Industries and Communities to Do Better
Science can change the way we understand enormous concepts, like the universe. But it can also guide the way we develop communities and grow industries. Education, manufacturing, business, and technology groups often ask acclaimed scientist Hakeem Oluseyi for his input into their specific needs, and, with this talk, he obliges. Encouraging audiences to use scientific principles to problem-solve, brainstorm, invent, and innovate, Oluseyi’s exceptional ability to inspire audiences with groundbreaking scientific discovery is on full display. This unique talk, customizable, and passionate, can be applied to virtually any organization or business.
An Unlikely Scientist: How Hakeem Oluseyi Escaped the Ghetto and Found Astrophysics
While today he’s a respected astrophysicist, Hakeem Oluseyi’s background didn't point toward a bright future in science (or in anything else, for that matter). Raised in infamous ghettos—from the Ninth Ward in New Orleans to the Third Ward in Houston—he attended some of the worst-performing schools in the country. But he avoided crime and gang-life by turning to books, even reading The World Book Encyclopedia (every single page!) at the age of ten. Oluseyi spent time in the military, received a physics Ph.D. degree from Stanford, and eventually ending up a member of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory team that won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics. In this keynote, Oluseyi tells his story—as only he can. He shares lessons about perseverance, determination, luck, kindness, and everything else that helped him along his journey. On stage, bolstered by a hard-earned pride, he becomes the positive role model that he never had.
The Nature of The Universe
Our understanding of the universe is moving away from the detail of a mere snapshot, and approaching something closer to a movie. In this talk, Hakeem Oluseyi explains how breathtaking new technologies are taking us one giant step closer to understanding the structure of the galaxies and the birth of the universe. Far from esoteric, though, Oluseyi, a charismatic astrophysicist, explains why all this, and science in general, matters. He talks about dark energy, the Milky Way, and the mechanisms by which magnetic fields heat and accelerate astrophysical plasmas!—but in an engaging, informative, and mind-expanding talk that showcases the imaginative side of the science, and how it relates to our everyday lives.