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Director of International Space Station, NASA Astronaut to Speak at launch of Leading Women Toward Space Careers program

It's now easier for women in STEM fields pursuing careers in space related disciplines to learn, grow, and study in community.  Leading Women Toward Space Careers  is forming new connections in its initiative to provide women interested in space careers with support and guidance from industry professionals. 

John Martinson Honors College is excited to announce the inaugural event of Leading Women Toward Space Careers. The evening event features a public address by Robyn Gatens, director of NASA's International Space Station (ISS) and Kathy Thornton, NASA astronaut, on September 8, 2022. The event will take place in The Honors College and Residences North (HCRN) building in Honors Hall at 5:30pm and is free to the public.

The Leading Women Toward Space Careers program was created by the John Martinson Honors College and in partnership with the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation to inspire, connect, support, and ready college-aged women across STEM disciplines for long term leadership in space-related careers. The program features mentorship with senior professionals in space careers, such as Gatens, and professional development for Honors College women in STEM disciplines and graduate students across Purdue University. It will also pursue questions of women in the history of space exploration with Purdue’s Barron Hilton Flight Exploration and Space Archives and the Honors College Tech Justice Lab.

Gatens and Thornton will speak to students, staff, and members of the community about interdisciplinary aspects and opportunities of space exploration careers. The evening will include information about the international, technical, and non-technical aspects of the ISS and NASA that span government and industry through short talks and a panel discussion entitled “Launching Interdisciplinary Endeavors.”

The presentation will include recognition by Thornton of Purdue’s 2022 Astronaut Scholarship recipients awarded by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Robyn Gatens currently leads the Human Exploration and Operations mission directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C. She is a senior expert for environmental control and life support (ECLSS) and crew health and performance systems. During her time with NASA, Gatens has led the development and management of life support and habitation systems for human spaceflight missions. She has also led strategy and budget planning for the habitation system technology for future deep space exploration missions.

Kathy Thornton began her career with NASA in 1985 with technical assignments that included flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Lab (SAIL), serving as a team member of the Vehicle Integration Test Team (VITT) at Kennedy Space Center, and as a spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM). Thornton served on four space missions and logged over 975 hours in space. Among her missions was a five day space flight aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1989. 

Honors College and Residences is located at 1101 3rd St. on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus. Live captioning is provided at this event amd it is free and open to the public.

Writer and Media Contact: Leslie Valiant