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Dr. Kathryn Sullivan MED ‘81

Dr. Kathryn Sullivan has a long career as a distinguished scientist, astronaut and executive. She was one of the first six women to join the NASA astronaut corps in 1978 and holds the distinction of being the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three space shuttle missions during her 15-year NASA tenure, including the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.

Since leaving NASA, Sullivan has held a variety of senior executive positions, including Presidential appointments to the National Science Board and as Chief Scientist, Deputy Administrator and Undersecretary/Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. As President and CEO of Ohio’s Center of Science & Industry (COSI) from 1996-2006, she oversaw the construction of a state-of-the-art new facility and comprehensive re-design of the museum’s hands-on science exhibits and educational programs. Recruited to The Ohio State University in 2006, she was the inaugural director of the Battelle Center for Science and Technology Policy within the John Glenn School (now College) of Public Affairs. An experienced corporate director, she currently serves on the board of the International Paper Company.

Sullivan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Sciences from University of California at Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. in Geology from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. She is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and numerous other professional associations. Dr. Sullivan’s many honors and awards include election to the National Academy of Engineering, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Women Aviators Hall of Fame, Women Divers Hall of Fame and Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. She has also been recognized as one of the 46 distinguished First Women by Time Magazine in 2017, the 15 Women Changing the World by the World Economic Forum in 2015 and Time’s 100 Most Influential People (2014). She has been awarded the Explorers Club Medal, Two Lowell Thomas Awards, the Rachel Carson Award, an Emmy and nine honorary degrees.

An acclaimed public speaker, Dr. Sullivan has given invited talks on technical and popular topics to audiences ranging from the World Economic Forum, Aspen Ideas Festival and Fortune 500 executives to universities, civic associations and cruise ship audiences. She is currently a Fellow of the Potomac Institute and Ambassador at Large for the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste