A step for women in science was taken on April 24, 2017. On this day, Peggy Whitson, current NASA astronaut, broke the record for longest total time spent in space. Furthermore, earlier this year, Whitson became the first female commander of the International Space Station, as well as the oldest woman spacewalker.
Aside from her interstellar achievements, Peggy Whitson also has an extensive history in scientific research preceding her three space expeditions. After graduating Iowa Wesleyan University with degrees in both biology and chemistry, Whitson worked on her doctorate degree in biochemistry at Rice University. Following her doctorate program, Peggy became a Research Associate at Johnson Space Center and then a supervisor for a biochemistry research group hired by NASA. Later, she became an adjunct professor at the University of Texas for biological chemistry and genetics and later at Rice University for biochemical and genetic engineering.
Finally, Whitson was selected to work at NASA in Biomedical Operations and Research, and later as an astronaut. Since then, Whitson has been on three missions, Expedition 5 (2002), Expedition 16 (2007), and currently Expedition 50/51 (2016). On these expeditions, Peggy has been named NASA’s first science officer, completed research on human life in space, and broke several records while doing so. Whitson’s accomplishments in the STEM fields are a beacon to the women who follow. Congratulations, Peggy!
By: Cara Valenica’17, Guest Writer