A profile piece on artist and astrophysicist Nia Imara.

FINALIST IN THE 2016 REGION 11 SOCIETY OF PROFESSIONAL JOURNALIST MARK OF EXCELLENCE AWARDS

"Nia Imara emerged from a storage closet in the East Oakland Youth Development center with a large canvas covered in bright shades of red, purple and yellow. The painting was one of her own and had been inspired by an old photo of a black woman brushing her hair and looking into a compact mirror. The woman sat in a large flower with smaller flowers blooming from the center—the floral, an artistic addition not present in the original photo. Small white spots that were evocative of snow, pollen, or maybe even stars surrounded the woman.

Born in East Oakland and raised in the Bay Area, Imara is an astronomer and a researcher at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, holding the prestigious title of a Harvard-MIT Future Faculty Leader Postdoctoral Fellow. Not only was she was the first African American woman to get a Ph.D. in astrophysics from UC Berkeley, but she is also a self-taught painter."