The first African-American woman in space, Dr. Mae C. Jemison was born on October 17, 1956 in Decatur, Alabama but considers Chicago, Illinois her hometown. She received a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering (and completed the requirements for a Bachelor in African and Afro-American studies) at Stanford University in 1977. Dr. Jemison also received a Doctorate degree in medicine from Cornell University in 1981. After medical school she did post graduate medical training at the Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center. As an area Peace Corps medical officer for Sierra Leone and Liberia in West Africa, she managed the health care delivery system for U.S. Peace Corps and U.S. Embassy personnel. Jemison’s background includes work in the areas of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and reproductive biology. She also developed and participated in research projects on the Hepatitis B vaccine and rabies.
Jemison was a General Practitioner and attending graduate Engineering classes in Los Angeles when she was named an astronaut candidate in 1987. She flew her first flight as a science mission specialist on STS-47, Spacelab-J, in September 1992. She was co-investigator for the Bone Cell Research Experiment on that mission. In completing her first space flight, Jemison logged 190 hours, 30 minutes and 23 seconds in space. Jemison resigned from NASA in March 1993. In 1994, she founded and began a term as chair of The Earth We Share (TEWS), an annual international science camp where students, aged 12 to 16, work together to solve current global dilemmas. From 1995- 2002 she was a professor of Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College. She is currently director of the Jemison Institute for Advancing Technology in developing countries. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and several corporate boards of directors on the Texas Governor’s State Council for Science and Biotechnology Development. Dr. Jemison published her memoirs, Find Where DE:the Wind Goes:Moments from My Life in 2001. She currently resides in Houston, Texas.