Dr. Beth Brown, an American astrophysicist, was known as the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Michigan. After graduating as valedictorian in 1987, she attended Howard University. During summer internships at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, she recognized that near-sightedness and claustrophobia would not allow her to become an astronaut. Yet, she became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Michigan and returned to Goddard as a research associate on NASA’s National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council. She died unexpectedly at the age of 39 from pulmonary embolism.