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Throughout the new year, the planetarium will be highlighting the work of scientists from all backgrounds and fields in order to celebrate their accomplishments and raise awareness about the inequalities present in astronomy, physics, and all of STEM. 

Today, we will learn about Mae Jemison.

Mae Jemison

Born in Chicago, Jemison was fascinated by space since childhood, and inspired by characters such as Star Trek's Lt. Uhura. She graduated from high school at age 16, and attended Stanford University, where she received degrees in chemical engineering & African American Studies.  

She then attended Cornell Medical School, where she earned an M.D. After an impressive medical career working at a Cambodian refugee camp, the Flying Doctors, the LA County Medical Center, and the Peace Corps, she returned to the US to settle in Los Angeles.  

After applying to NASA's Astronaut program in 1987, Jemison was chosen out of over 2,000 applicants to undergo astronaut training with 14 others. Not only was she the first black woman to receive this honor, but this was the first training since the Challenger disaster.  

After a year of training, Jemison became the first black female astronaut, and in 1992, she was selected as a mission specialist on the Space Shuttle Endeavor, making her the first black woman to ever travel to space. She retired from NASA in 1993 to teach at Dartmouth.

Jemison founded her own company, the Jemison group, which encourages a love for science in students of all ages, and focuses on improving healthcare and technological access in developing companies. She is also an avid dancer, and speaks Russian, Japanese, Swahili, and English.

We here at the planetarium are awe-struck by Mae Jemison's many accomplishments, and are proud to celebrate the many things she has done to further scientific knowledge and increase equity in STEM.

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