United States, Born 1951
An illustrious scientist and explorer of sea and space, Dr Kathryn Sullivan has made history with her pioneering journeys to the world’s frontiers. She is a veteran of three missions: during a Challenger flight in 1984, she became the first American woman to walk in space; she helped launch the Hubble Space Telescope aboard Discovery in 1990; and she served as a payload commander aboard Atlantis in 1992.
“I spent my childhood in California exploring the wide-open spaces near my home and feeding my scientific instincts,” says Sullivan. Further inspired by her aerospace engineer father and educated in earth sciences, she was one of six women to join the first class of space-shuttle astronauts in 1978.
After 15 years with NASA, she was appointed chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, overseeing research on issues ranging from climate change to marine biodiversity. In 1996, Sullivan became president and CEO of Ohio’s Center of Science and Industry (COSI), one of the country’s most dynamic learning centres for science, math and technology. Over the next decade, she led COSI through the most significant growth and change in its history, including a substantial increase in its impact on science teaching in schools.
She is now the inaugural director of the Battelle Center for Math and Science Education Policy at Ohio State University, established to increase the number of school and university students with strong backgrounds in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. In recognition of her lifelong commitment to science education, she received the 2003 Public Service Award from the National Science Board, of which she recently became a member and vice chairman. The much-decorated Naval Reserve captain also was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, in Florida, in 2004.
Published in 2008