Dr. Dunbar is a retired NASA astronaut, engineer and educator,
currently with Texas A&M Engineering as a Texas A&M
Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) Eminent Research
Professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering.
Dunbar, who is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, 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 integrated 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 the SICSA
Space Architecture and Aerospace graduate programs. She has devoted her life to furthering
engineering, engineering education, and the pursuit of human space exploration.
Dunbar worked for The Rockwell International Space Division Company building Space Shuttle Columbia
and worked for 27 years at NASA, first as a flight controller; then as a mission specialist astronaut, where
she flew five space shuttle flights, logging more than 50 days in space. She then served for 7 years as a
member of the NASA Senior Executive Service (SES). Her management experience included assistant
NASA JSC director for university research; deputy director for Flight Crew Operations; Associate Director
for ISS Mission Operations development, and as 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.
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 is a Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics,
and the Royal Aeronautical Society. She has been awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal five times, the
NASA Exceptional Leadership Medal and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Dunbar was elected into
the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and to the US National Academy of Engineering. In 2013 she was
selected into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, in 2016, she was inducted into the Omega Alpha Association
(OAA) Systems Engineering Honor Society. From 2017 to 2018, Dr. Dunbar served as the President of the
Association of Space Explorers (ASE).
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