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“Thinking Outside the Sphere: Exploring Space”

About Bonnie Dunbar

Dr. Dunbar is a retired NASA astronaut, engineer and educator, currently with Texas A&M Engineering as the John and Bea Slattery Chair in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. Her laboratory, the Aerospace Human Systems Laboratory (AHSL) is engaged in research related to human space systems, such as spacesuits and habitats; the physiological effects of partial gravity; and the study of partial gravity fluid physics as applied to space exploration engineering. She is also the group lead for Systems, Design and Human Integration (SDHI) within the Aerospace Engineering Department. She also is directing the building and installation of a human rated short arm research centrifuge, formerly operated by NASA, for artificial research supporting human missions to the Moon and Mars.

Dunbar, who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, was selected as part of the Texas &M Chancellor’s Research Initiative (CRI). She came to Texas A&M from the University of Houston where she was an M.D. Anderson Professor of Mechanical Engineering. There she provided leadership in the development of a new university Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) center and was Director of the Science and Engineering Fair of Houston. She also taught the Mechanical Engineering “Introduction to Engineering” course, and directed both the SICSA Space Architecture and Aerospace graduate programs.

Dunbar previously worked for The Rockwell International Space Division Company building the Space Shuttle Columbia in the 1970s and then worked for 27 years at NASA, as a flight controller and as a mission specialist astronaut, where she flew five space shuttle flights, logging more than 50 days in space. After being selected into the Senior Executive Service (SES), she served for 7 years in various capacities. Her executive service included assistant NASA JSC director for university research; deputy director for Flight Crew Operations; Associate Director for ISS Mission Operations development, and NASA headquarters deputy associate administrator for the Office of Life and Microgravity Sciences and Applications (OLMSA).

After retiring from NASA, Dunbar became president and CEO of The Museum of Flight in Seattle, where she established a new Space Gallery and expanded its K12 STEM educational offerings. She has also consulted in aerospace and STEM education as the president of Dunbar International LLC, and is an internationally known public speaker and advocate of science, engineering and mathematical studies.

Dunbar holds bachelor and master degrees in ceramic engineering from the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in mechanical/biomedical engineering from the University of Houston. She also holds ten honorary graduate degrees and currently has a joint appointment in the Texas A&M College of Medicine.

Dr. Dunbar is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Royal Aeronautical Society. She was elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh and to the US National Academy of Engineering. She was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame and the Omega Alpha Association (OAA) Systems Engineering Honor Society; elected as the President of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE) twice; and in 2020, was selected for the National Sigma Xi John P. McGovern Science and Society Award.

Bonnie Dunbar

Bonnie J. Dunbar, PhD NAE RSEcorr

NASA Astronaut
Professor, Aerospace Engineering, Texas A&M University
Director, Aerospace Human Systems Laboratory (AHSL)

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