Dr. Ochoa, member, and chairperson of the National Science Board, is a powerful influencer on how science, engineering, and technology shapes our lives and informs our education at all levels.
Dr. Ellen Ochoa was born in 1958 in Los Angeles, CA. In 1980, she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from San Diego State University. She received a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1985.
As a doctoral student and later as a research engineer, Dr. Ochoa specialized in developing optical systems. She is the co-inventor of three patents covering a design for enhancing visual features, recognizing position, rotation, and intensity invariant targets in an optical field, and reducing image noise.
In 1988, Dr. Ochoa joined NASA as a research engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Just two years later, Dr. Ochoa was selected for the astronaut corps, and in 1993 she flew her first mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Dr. Ochoa flew four missions as a NASA astronaut and was the first crew to dock with the International Space Station. She logged nearly 1,000 hours in orbit during her astronaut career and received numerous decorations, including NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal.
Building on her trailblazing career, Dr. Ochoa became the first Hispanic director and second female director in 2013 of NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, the hub for all NASA’s human-crewed space flights.
In 2018, Dr. Ochoa became a member of the National Science Board (NSB) and was promoted to chairperson in 2020. The NSB establishes the policies of the National Science Foundation (NSF), with a budget of $8.5 billion (FY 2021) and serves as advisor to Congress and the President. The Board approves major NSF awards, provides congressional testimony, and issues statements relevant to the nation’s S&E Enterprise.
As the first Hispanic female astronaut, Dr. Ochoa is the subject of several books for the K-8 grades and has given over 300 presentations on the importance of science, engineering, math, technology, security, and research in education. She also encourages supporting STEM education for women in science and engineering.
Dr. Ochoa serves on several boards, and she is a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Inventors, and the Optical Society of America. Six schools are named after her, and she has received honorary doctorates from six different universities.
Dr. Ochoa has made many significant contributions to the scientific community and the world. In this way, Dr. Ochoa has joined the rich tradition of the Hispanic scientists and inventors who have made an essential contribution to technology and our understanding of the world.
Authors: @Will Ely, J.D. student, University of Minnesota Law School, and @Tara C. Norgard, Shareholder mentor
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