UC Davis Today

Tracy Caldwell Dyson in space

Leadership in science and technology

UC Davis is the launching pad for leaders in science and technology, such as NASA astronaut and alumna Tracy Caldwell Dyson.

NASA selected her as an astronaut in 1998 after she had received her doctorate in chemistry from UC Davis the year before.  As a graduate student, Caldwell Dyson taught general chemistry classes, learned to fly and to speak Russian. Her dissertation focused on metal surfaces, and her research was published in numerous scientific journals.

“The experience (on campus) was really good,” Caldwell Dyson said during an interview with UC Davis NewsWatch. “It definitely was a necessary stepping stone for getting where I am today.”

In 2007, Caldwell Dyson ventured into space for the first time aboard the space shuttle Endeavor, which carried her to the International Space Station. She spent almost two weeks in orbit.

Three years later, she spent six months at the space station, this time flying there aboard a Russian rocket with Russian cosmonauts. The first astronaut who was born after the first lunar landing in 1969 (Apollo 11), she served as flight engineer, making a spacewalk and carrying out a variety of science experiments.

Caldwell Dyson returned to campus March 3 to give a free public lecture shown on YouTube. A 2008 talk of hers is available on iTunesU.

(Tracy Caldwell Dyson floats near the cupola observation window of the International Space Station during her 2010 mission. NASA photo)

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