Dr. Mae C. Jemison is leader of 100 Year Starship, an initiative that has been seed-funded by the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to ensure that human space travel to another star is possible within 100 years. She also is founder of the Jemison Group Inc., a technology consulting firm that integrates the critical impact of socio-cultural issues in the design and implementation of technologies, such as plans to use satellite technology for health care delivery in West Africa and solar dish Stirling engines for electricity generation in developing countries.
Jemison, the first woman of color to go into space, served six years as a NASA astronaut. She flew aboard the space shuttle Endeavour and STS-47 Spacelab Japan mission in September 1992 and was NASA’s first science mission specialist performing experiments in material science, life science and human adaptation to weightlessness.
Started after she left NASA, The Jemison Group also explores and develops stand-alone science and technology programs and companies. BioSentient Corp., which provides medical devices and services focused on improving health and human performance through physiological awareness and self-regulation, is such a company.
Committed to science literacy, Jemison founded the international science camp The Earth We Share (TEWS) in 1994 for students ages 12-16 years old and founded and chairs the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence. TEWS-Space Race launched in summer 2011 to improve science achievement among Los Angeles-area students underserved and underrepresented in the sciences. Over four years, its goal is to directly impact up to 10,000 middle school students and train 600 teachers. In October 2006, the foundation developed Reality Leads Fantasy-Celebrating Women of Color in Flight program that highlighted women in aviation and space from around the world. Jemison serves as national advocate for the Bayer Corp.’s award-winning “Making Science Make Sense” program.
As an environmental studies professor at Dartmouth College from 1995 to 2002, she taught sustainable development and technology design and ran The Jemison Institute for Advancing Technologies in Developing Countries. She has also been an Andrew D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University.
Jemison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine and is on the board of directors of Kimberly-Clark Corp., the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, Scholastic Inc., Texas Medical Center and Valspar Corp.; a trustee of Morehouse College; former chair of the Texas State Product Development and Small Business Incubator Board; and chair of the Greater Houston Partnership Disaster Planning and Recovery Task Force. Jemison is an inductee of National Women’s Hall of Fame, National Medical Association Hall of Fame and Texas Science Hall of Fame. She has received the National Organization for Women’s Intrepid Award and the Kilby Science Award. In 1999 was selected as one of the top seven women leaders in a presidential ballot national straw poll.
Prior to NASA, Jemison was an area medical officer in Sierra Leone and Liberia for two-plus years overseeing the health care system for the Peace Corps (and State Department in Sierra Leone). She has also worked internationally, including time in a Cambodian refugee camp and with the Flying Doctors of East Africa. Jemison earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and the requirements for a bachelor of arts degree in African and Afro-American Studies at Stanford University, as well as her MD from Cornell University.
She is a highly sought after speaker on issues of health care, social responsibility, technology and motivation and has provided commentary for the BBC, McNeil Lehrer Report, ABC’s Nightline, NPR and CNN. In Find Where the Wind Goes, a book for teenagers, Jemison writes about growing up on the south side of Chicago, cultivating her aspiration to be a scientist, her experiences as a medical student in Africa and her history-making journey into space.
She has also appeared on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, hosted the Discovery Channel’s series World of Wonder and was chosen one of People magazine’s “World’s 50 Most Beautiful People” in 1993. Jemison resides in Houston and loves cats.