UC Connect public lecture: NASA Astronaut Dr Anna Fisher – Women in STEM

29 October 2019

Marking 50 years since the Moon landing, NASA astronaut Dr Anna Fisher is coming to the University of Canterbury to give an inspiring public lecture to a capacity audience.

  • Fisher

    Dr Anna Fisher was one of the first female astronauts selected by NASA

Marking 50 years since the Moon landing, NASA astronaut Dr Anna Fisher is coming to the University of Canterbury to give an inspiring public lecture tonight (Tuesday, 29 October).

Now retired, Dr Anna Fisher is one of the first female astronauts selected by NASA. She also is a chemist and a doctor specialising in emergency medicine.  Fisher worked on the Space Shuttle Program, the International Space Station, and the Orion capsule that is being developed for NASA’s future Space Launch System. Additionally, she was a crew representative to support space shuttle integrated testing and payload testing.  During the early phase of building the International Space Station, Fischer was the chief of the Space Station branch.

As part of the UC Connect public lecture series, Dr Fisher will discuss her career, and why we need more women and girls studying STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. With support from the US Embassy in New Zealand, her talk is timed to highlight the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon landing.

Dr Anna Fisher received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry and a Doctor of Medicine from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), in 1971 and 1976, respectively; and received a Master of Science in Chemistry from UCLA in 1987. After graduating from UCLA in 1971, Fisher spent a year in graduate school, working in the field of x-ray crystallographic studies of metallocarbonanes. She co-authored three publications relating to these studies for the Journal of Inorganic Chemistry. She began medical school at UCLA in 1972 and, following graduation in 1976, commenced a one-year internship at Harbor General Hospital in Torrance, California. She then specialised in emergency medicine and worked in several hospitals in the Los Angeles area.

Fisher was selected as an astronaut by NASA in January 1978. In August 1979, she completed a one-year training and evaluation period, making her eligible for assignment as a mission specialist on space shuttle flight crews. Fisher was a mission specialist on STS-51A, which launched from Kennedy Space Center, on November 8, 1984. During the mission, the crew deployed two satellites and, as the first space salvage mission, the crew also retrieved the Palapa B-2 and Westar VI satellites for return to Earth. STS-51A completed 127 Earth orbits before landing at Kennedy Space Center on November 16, 1984. With the completion of her first flight, Fisher logged a total of 192 hours in space.

Fisher was assigned as a mission specialist on STS-61H, prior to the Challenger accident. Following the accident, she worked as the deputy of the Mission Development branch of the Astronaut Office and as the astronaut office representative for Flight Data File issues. In that capacity, she served as the crew representative on the Crew Procedures Change Board. Fisher served on the Astronaut Selection Board for the 1987 class of astronauts. Fisher also served in the Space Station Support office. From 1989 through 1995, Fisher was on a leave of absence from the Astronaut Office to raise her family, returning in January 1996. From 1996 through 2002, during the early phase of building the International Space Station (ISS), Fisher was the chief of the Space Station branch. From January 2011 through August 2013, Fisher served as an ISS Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) working in the Mission Control Center and was also the lead CAPCOM for Expedition 33.

Among her special honours: a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Fellowship, 1970 and 1971; graduated from UCLA cum laude and with honours in chemistry; NASA Space Flight Medal; Lloyd’s of London Silver Medal for Meritorious Salvage Operations; Mother of the Year Award, 1984; UCLA Professional Achievement Award; UCLA Medical Professional Achievement Award; NASA Exceptional Service Medal, 1999.

UC Connect public lecture: Women in STEM, presented by NASA Astronaut Dr Anna Fisher, 7pm – 8pm, Tuesday 29 October, 2019, in the Ngaio Marsh Theatre in Haere-roa (the UCSA building) 90 Ilam Rd, University of Canterbury, Christchurch. The seats for this lecture have been allocated, but you can Watch the livestream on UC's Facebook page.

UC Communications team, media@canterbury.ac.nz, Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168


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