First native Houstonian astronaut to visit UH

October 28, 2011

HOUSTON, Oct. 28, 2011 - Space City's first native Houstonian astronaut to launch into space is coming to the University of Houston (UH) from 3 to 3:50 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 8. Shannon Walker, who is the daughter of the founding dean of UH's College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics (NSM), will give a lecture and present a memento honoring her father that she carried with her on this 163-day mission.

Nearly 35 years after her father, R. Hugh Walker, became the first dean of NSM, the younger Walker commemorated the pioneering legacy she shared with him by taking a tribute poster, highlighting that bond, on her first journey into space. She rocketed into orbit as co-pilot of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft for a mission lasting more than five months, from June to November 2010, aboard the International Space Station.

While her father, who died in 2005, did not live to see her maiden voyage, he would have been proud. The senior Walker was credited with increasing undergraduate involvement in research, as well as making NSM more accessible to students not majoring in science and math. The commemorative poster praises him as someone who believed in the limitless potential of UH's students and faculty, as well as for inspiring them to dream big and reach for the stars.

Shannon Walker remembers being drawn to the space program at an early age, prepping for a career in rocket science through her academic years. She was 4 when the Apollo astronauts first walked on the moon and was in high school when NASA had its first space shuttle launch. Like her father, she became a physicist, earning her bachelor's degree in physics and master's and doctoral degrees in space physics.

Her presentation will be titled "Long Duration Space Flight: Preparing for and Living on the International Space Station."

WHO: Astronaut Shannon Walker, first native Houstonian launched into space

WHAT: "Long Duration Space Flight: Preparing for and Living on the International Space Station"
Lecture with presentation of commemorative UH item flown in space

WHEN: 3 to 3:50 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 8

WHERE: University of Houston
Science & Engineering Classroom Building (SEC), room 100
Off Cullen Boulevard, Entrance 14
Map: http://www.uh.edu/campus_map/buildings/SEC.php
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