Dr. Sullivan made history in 1984 when as a member of the Challenger's sixth mission, she became the first American woman to walk in space. A veteran of three space shuttle missions, including the 1990 Hubble Space telescope deployment mission, she has logged more than 500 hours in orbit.
After joining NASA in 1979, Dr. Sullivan sought a commission in the Naval Reserve which would allow her to work in applied oceanography and military space programs. Today, she is a commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve and her active duty assignments have involved anti-submarine warfare operations in the Mediterranean, joint-service exercise operations aboard USS Kittyhawk in the Pacific and review and management of a $30 million Navy Program in oceanographic and meteoriogic research and development.
The recipient of numerous awards and honors, including NASA medals for exceptional service and outstanding leadership, Dr. Sullivan received her doctoral degree in geology from Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia. It was during her graduate studies that her interest in oceanography was peaked and she participated in a variety of oceanographic expeditions, under the auspices of the U.S. Geological Survey , Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and the Bedford Institute.
A proponent of science education, Dr. Sullivan was picked to lead the design of the original Challenger Center Program Model, which is now in service at over 33 Challenger Learning Centers in the United States and Canada. She has also served as an advisor for numerous exhibit and multimedia projects sponsored by National Geographic, the Smithsonian and other organizations. Dr. Sullivan's commitment to science education is complemented by her many public talks that are focused on schools and educators.