Neil deGrasse Tyson has a rather lofty official title: He's the Frederick P. Rose director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, part of the American Museum of Natural History. Unofficially, he's America's favorite scientist -- a champion of logic and discipline in illogical and undisciplined times.
Last year, as the presenter of the Peabody Award-winning "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" on Fox and National Geographic Channel -- a sequel to Carl Sagan's Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" from 1980 -- he went truly mainstream. This year, his popular podcast and radio show, "StarTalk," expanded distribution with a SiriusXM deal and landed guests including Christopher Nolan, Elon Musk and Edward Snowden. A TV version debuted on Nat Geo in April with George Takei as the first guest; Bill Clinton showed up to help kick off the second season in October.
It's no wonder the National Academy of Sciences decided to bestow on him its highest honor, the 2015 Public Welfare Medal, for his "extraordinary role in exciting the public about the wonders of science, from atoms to the Universe."