Wayne State University

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2014 MLK Key Note Speaker - Dr. Mae Jemison

Dr. Mae Jemison

  • First African American Woman in Space
  • Currently Leading 100 Year Starship (An initiative to assure the capability for human interstellar space travel to another star is possible within the next 100 years)
  • Founder and President of Two Medical Technology Companies

Dr. Mae C. Jemison is currently leading 100 Year Starship (100YSS) an initiative seed funded by DOD's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) to assure the capability for human interstellar space travel to another star is possible within the next 100 years. She also is founder of the technology consulting firm, The Jemison Group, Inc. that integrates the critical impact of socio-cultural issues when designing and implementing technologies, such as their projects on using satellite technology for health care delivery in West Africa and solar dish Stirling engines for electricity generation in developing countries.

Dr. Jemison, the first woman of color in the world to go into space, served six years as a NASA astronaut. She flew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, 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, a medical technology devices and services company focused on improving health and human performance through physiologic awareness and self-regulation is such a company.

A strong, committed global voice for science literacy, in 1994 Jemison founded the international science camp The Earth We Share™ (TEWS) for students 12-16 years old from around the world, and founded and chairs the Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, a 501(c)3. TEWS-Space Race launched summer 2011 to improve science achievement in 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 the program Reality Leads Fantasy — Celebrating Women of Color in Flight that highlighted women in aviation and space from around the world. Dr. Jemison serves as national advocate for Bayer Corporation's award winning Making Science Make Sense Program.

An environmental studies professor at Dartmouth College, Jemison taught sustainable development and technology design and ran The Jemison Institute for Advancing Technologies in Developing Countries. She was an A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University.

Dr. Jemison is a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine and is: on the Board of Directors of Kimberly-Clark Corp., Scholastic, Inc. and Valspar Corp.; a Trustee of Morehouse College; Board of Texas Medical Center; and served as Chair, Texas State Product Development and Small Business Incubator Board; Chair, Greater Houston Partnership Disaster Planning and Recovery Task Force; a member Board of National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Dr. Jemison is an inductee of National Women's Hall of Fame, National Medical Association Hall of Fame and Texas Science Hall of Fame. Among many honors, awards and honorary degrees she received the National Organization for Women's Intrepid Award, the Kilby Science Award and in 1999 was selected as one of the top seven women leaders in a presidential ballot national straw poll.

Prior to NASA, Jemison was Area Peace Corps Medical Officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia for two and a half years overseeing the healthcare system for Peace Corps (and State Department in Sierra Leone). Throughout Jemison has worked internationally including in a Cambodian refugee camp and with the Flying Doctors of East Africa. A general practice doctor in Los Angeles, Jemison earned a B.S. degree in chemical engineering and the requirements for an A.B. degree in African and Afro-American Studies at Stanford University and her M.D. from Cornell University.

Dr. Jemison 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 Nightline, NPR and CNN. In Find Where the Wind Goes, she writes for teenagers about growing up on the south side of Chicago, cultivating her aspiration to be a scientist, experiences as a medical student in Africa and her history-making journey into space. She 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. Dr. Jemison resides in Houston and loves cats.