Ochoa is a former astronaut, former Director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and until May 2022, chair of the National Science Board.
Dr. Ochoa currently serves on several corporate and nonprofit boards and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and a Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academy of Inventors, and the Optical Society of America.
Born in 1958 in Los Angeles, Ochoa received her B.S. in physics from San Diego State University and her M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1981 and 1985, respectively, both in electrical engineering. As a doctoral student and later as a research engineer, Dr. Ochoa specialized in developing optical systems. She is the co-inventor of three patents covering a design for enhancing visual features; recognizing position, rotation, and intensity invariant targets in an optical field; and reducing image noise.
In 1988, Dr. Ochoa joined NASA as a research engineer at NASA’s Ames Research Center. Two years later, she was selected for the astronaut corps, and in 1993 flew her first mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery. Dr. Ochoa flew four missions as a NASA astronaut and was the first crew to dock with the International Space Station. She logged nearly 1,000 hours in orbit during her astronaut career and received numerous decorations, including NASA’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal.
Building on her trailblazing career, Dr. Ochoa became the first Hispanic director and second female director in 2013 of NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center, the hub for all NASA’s human-crewed space flights. She joined the National Science Board as part of the class of 2016.
As the first Hispanic female astronaut, Dr. Ochoa is the subject of several books for the K-8 grades and has given more than 300 presentations on the importance of science, engineering, math, technology, security, and research in education. She is an active supporter of STEM education for women in science and engineering. Six schools are named after her and she has received honorary doctorates from eight universities.
SRI is looking forward to the many valuable contributions and insights that Dr. Ochoa will bring to the institute as we continue to create and deliver world-changing solutions for a safer, healthier, and more sustainable future.