Dr. Shannon Lucid, NASA astronaut, along with Oklahoma’s top female scientists and engineers, encouraged more than 500 Oklahoma middle and high school students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields as part of the 2009 Oklahoma EPSCoR Women in Science Conference, an event created to spark the interests of the state’s future scientists and engineers.
The Women in Science Conference, held at Science Museum Oklahoma, enables students to learn about various science and technology careers, engage in hands-on science activities and helps them to prepare for college. Teachers and counselors also receive valuable information about summer research opportunities and resources for the classroom.
The Women in Science program began in 1997 and was originally designed for professors and college students, but the program’s popularity exploded last year when it opened to middle and high school students and their teachers.
Oklahoma Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), in collaboration with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education and the National Science Foundation, sponsors the annual conference to help achieve its central goal to increase the state’s research competitiveness through strategic support of research instruments and facilities, research collaborations, and integrated education and research programs. This year’s event attracted additional sponsors including Science Museum Oklahoma, Oklahoma NASA Space Grant and the University of Oklahoma College of Engineering.
“We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. Lucid as our keynote speaker. Her accomplishments are an inspiration to Oklahomans, especially the young women attending today who aspire to be among the nation’s brightest and best future scientists, engineers and mathematicians,” said Dr. James Wicksted, associate director and principal investigator on the NSF EPSCoR grant that provided the primary funding for the event.
Lucid, a native of Bethany, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate degree from the OU Health Sciences Center. After working in a number of academic and research positions in the state, Lucid was selected to enter the NASA astronaut candidate training program in January 1978 and became an astronaut in August 1979. From February 2002 until September 2003, she served as NASA’s chief scientist stationed at the headquarters in Washington, D.C. In that role, Lucid was responsible for developing and communicating the agency’s science and research objectives.
Lucid was the first woman to hold an international record for the most flight hours in orbit by a non-Russian. Until June 2007, she also held the world record for the most flight hours in orbit by a woman.