Astrophysicist and Comic Book Heroine

A new comic book shows how professor Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil overcame many challenges on her way to becoming a world-changing scientist. 

Professor and astrophysicist Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil recently added "comic book character" to her vitae.

Created by SciAll and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, with art by Juanele Tamal, a new comic book shows how Mutlu-Pakdil overcame challenges related to being a woman, a Muslim, and a first-generation college student on her way to becoming a world-changing scientist.


Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil
Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil

"I am very proud of this project," Mutlu-Pakdil says. "It was amazing to collaborate with incredible scientists and students to make this happen. We are planning to share this content widely and make a positive change in society!"

Called "one of the most notable astrophysicists today" by Inc. magazine, Mutlu-Pakdil counts among her many accomplishments the discovery of a rare galaxy, now commonly referred to as Burçin's Galaxy. Her research focuses on understanding the nature of dark matter and galaxy formation via observations of nearby galaxies.

In 2019 Mutlu-Pakdil was selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Lyda Hill Philanthropies to serve as part of a cohort of "AAAS If/Then Ambassadors"—high-profile role models for middle school girls. In addition to funding and elevating women in STEM, the program seeks to inspire girls with portrayals of women in STEM through media and learning experiences.

The comic book about Mutlu-Pakdil is part of a set of six origin stories of If/Then ambassadors, which was funded by an If/Then Changing the World grant.


comic book

"By broadcasting the inspiring stories of how If/Then Ambassadors became the world-changing scientists of today, we could dramatically shift the internal narrative in the minds of countless young girls, who may, for the first time, truly see STEM—where women remain underrepresented—as something that is, at the least 'for them,' or better yet, a worthy challenge they will boldly pursue professionally," the project proposal states.