Pitt to Host Jan. 19 Lecture by Mae Jemison, First African American Woman Astronaut to Travel in Space

Issue Date: 
January 19, 2010
Mae JemisonMae Jemison

American astronaut and physician Mae Jemison, most notably known as the first African American woman to travel in space, will be the featured speaker during a University of Pittsburgh Black Action Society (BAS) event titled “Dr. King’s Legacy: A Call to Action.” The presentation—at 8:45 p.m. Jan. 19 in Room 120 of David Lawrence Hall—will be part of a series of free public events through Jan. 21 honoring the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. A meet-and-greet and question-and-answer session will be part of the evening’s activities.

Becoming the first Black woman in space, aboard the shuttle Endeavor in 1992, was just one of Jemison’s many accomplishments. Prior to joining NASA in 1987, she worked in Los Angeles as a general practitioner with the INA/Ross Loos Medical Group. She then spent more than two years as an Area Peace Corps medical officer in Sierra Leone and Liberia. On her return to Los Angeles, she worked as a general practitioner with CIGNA Health Plans of California.

Jemison was a NASA astronaut for six years. As the science mission specialist on the Endeavor flight, she conducted experiments in life and material sciences and was a coinvestigator on the bone cell research experiment flown on the mission.

After leaving NASA in 1993, Jemison founded The Jemison Group, Inc., a technology design and consulting firm, and the BioSentient Corporation, a medical technology firm. She also established and currently chairs The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence and has directed the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in Developing Countries. She is an A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University and was a professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College.

A Chicago native, Jemison entered Stanford University at the age of 16 and earned a BS degree in chemical engineering and fulfilled the requirements for a BA degree in African and Afro-American Studies; she went on to earn her MD at Cornell University Medical College. Among her awards and honors are election to the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine and induction into the National Medical Association Hall of Fame. She has been awarded a number of honorary doctorates, including Doctor of Humanities from Princeton University. Her book Find Where the Wind Goes: Moments From My Life (Scholastic Press, 2001), written for teenagers, features autobiographical anecdotes about growing up.

Among the other events in BAS’ weeklong series are a Jan. 20 evening, “Honoring Women Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement,” and a Jan. 21 oratory contest. For more information, visit www.news.pitt.edu/m/FMPro?-db=ma&-lay=a&-format=d.html&id=3939&-Find.

In addition to BAS, other Pitt sponsors are the Pitt Chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, the Cross Cultural and Leadership Development Office (CCLD), Dean of Students Kathy Humphrey and the Division of Student Affairs, and the University of Pittsburgh Chaplaincies.

For more information, contact Jacquett C. Wade, CCLD coordinator, at 412-648-7834.