In a beautifully written, science-packed, and inspirational memoir, Egyptian-American astrophysicist Sarafina El-Badry Nance shares how she boldly carved out a place in the field of astrophysics, grounding herself in a lifelong love of the stars to face life’s inevitable challenges and embrace the unknown.
As a child, Sarafina El-Badry Nance spent nearly every evening with her father gazing up at the flickering stars and pondering what secrets the night sky held. The daughter of an American father and Egyptian mother who both pushed her toward academic excellence, Sarafina dreamed of becoming an astronomer and untangling the mysteries of the stars overhead. But it wasn’t long before she was told, both explicitly and implicitly, that girls just weren’t cut out for math and science.
In Starstruck, Sarafina invites us to consider the cosmos through fascinating science lessons to open each chapter. But she also traces more earthbound obstacles—of misogyny and racism, abuse and intergenerational trauma, anxiety and self-doubt, cancer diagnoses and recovery—she faced along the way. As her career and passion for space brought her from UT Austin to UC Berkeley, and even to a Mars astronaut simulation in Hawai’i, Sarafina learned how to survive—and ultimately thrive—in a space that was seldom welcoming to women, and especially not to women of color.
Honest and empowering, Starstruck sits at the intersection of the study of our cosmos—itself constantly changing—and the transformative experience of embracing resilience to pursue one’s passion.
Sarafina El-Badry Nance is an Egyptian-American astrophysicist, analog astronaut, and women’s health advocate. She has been awarded fellowships by the National Science Foundation and her work has been featured by the BBC, NPR, National Geographic, and more. Sarafina is one of Forbes’ “30 Inspirational Women” and was on Forbes’ list of “30 Under 30” and the Arab American Foundation’s “40 Under 40.” She lives in Berkeley, California, with her partner and their dog, Comet.
Joanna Robinson is the author of the upcoming MCU: THE REIGN OF MARVEL STUDIOS as well as a podcaster and cultural critic for The Ringer appearing on several shows including The Ringer-Verse, Trial By Content, The Prestige TV feed, and more. Formerly a senior writer at Vanity Fair from 2014-2021, she was also the founder and co-host of the independent podcasts A Storm of Spoilers and A Cast of Kings. Joanna has been profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle, IndieWire, and Recode Media for her work on pop culture. In 2019, SyFy dubbed her the "Queen of Game of Thrones" for her exhaustive (and exhausting) coverage of the biggest TV event of the young century. She fell in love with Marvel Comics with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 and has been kicking butts and eating nuts ever since. Robinson enjoys listening to the rhythmic waves of the Pacific Ocean and watching Chris Evans hold onto the landing skid of a helicopter. She can be found on most social media platforms @jowrotethis and at her own website, jowrotethis.com.
Sarafina El-Badry Nance photo courtesy of Kelly Mooney. Joanna Robinson photo courtesy of the author.