Groundbreaking astronaut to explore science and human potential

Mae C. Jemison broke more than the sound barrier in 1992 when she climbed aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour and became the first woman of color to travel into space. On Wednesday, Oct. 26, she will deliver the Black Arts & Sciences Festival Lecture for the Assembly Series at 11 a.m. in Graham Chapel. Her talk, “Exploring the Frontiers of Science and Human Potential,” will focus on her inspirational story. She will discuss the importance of science, education, and the increased participation of women and minorities in science and technology. The lecture is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Association of Black Students.

A prominent voice for scientific literacy, Jemison was a NASA astronaut for six years. Onboard the Endeavour’s STS-47 Spacelab J flight, she was the science mission specialist, responsible for conducting experiments in life sciences and material sciences. She also served as co-investigator for bone cell research experiment in the Spacelab laboratory module.

In addition to her career as an astronaut, Jemison has had many other professional roles, including chemical engineer, scientist, physician, and teacher. In 1993, she founded The Jemison Group, a technology consulting firm that considers the social, cultural and economic impacts of technologies. The company’s projects range in scope from implementing cutting-edge technology to providing needed services to developing countries, such as health care delivery in West Africa. Another of Jemison’s enterprises is a medical devices company called BioSentient Corporation. Using patented technology, BioSentient Corp. develops and markets ambulatory medical equipment to improve health through self-regulation.

She is currently A.D. White Professor-At-Large at Cornell University, supplementing the permanent faculty. She was formerly a professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College.

Throughout her career, Jemison has worked to spread an appreciation for scientific education and to motivate change. She entered the Peace Corps in 1983 as an Area Peace Corps Medical Officer in Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa. She practiced medicine in Los Angeles before joining NASA.

In 1994, she founded The Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, a nonprofit organization that sponsors The Earth We Share, an annual international summer camp where teenagers learn problem-solving skills and how to apply them to current global dilemmas.

She entered Stanford University at the age of 16 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and in African and Afro-American studies. She earned her medical degree from Cornell Medical College.

She is the recipient of many other honors, including the Kilby Science Award, and has been inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Graham Chapel is located just north of Mallinckrodt Center (6445 Forsyth Blvd.) on the Washington University campus. All Assembly Series lectures are free and open to the public. For more information, check the Assembly Series at or call (314) 935-4620. For more information on the week-long Black Arts & Sciences Festival, check the ABS Web site: