Dr. Kathryn Sullivan was confirmed by the Senate as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator in 2014, having previously served as Acting NOAA Administrator. She is a distinguished scientist, renowned astronaut and intrepid explorer.
Prior to her appointment as Acting Administrator, Kathryn held the position of Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction and Deputy Administrator, and also performed the duties of NOAA's Chief Scientist, a vacant position. As Assistant Secretary, she played a central role in directing Administration and NOAA priority work in the areas of weather and water services, climate science and services, integrated mapping services and Earth-observing capabilities. She also provided agency-wide direction with regard to satellites, space weather, water, and ocean observations and forecasts to best serve American communities and businesses. She is the United States Co-chair of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO), an intergovernmental body that is building a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to provide environmental intelligence relevant to societal needs.
Kathryn’s impressive expertise spans the frontiers of space and sea. An accomplished oceanographer, she was appointed NOAA’s Chief Scientist in 1993, where she oversaw a portfolio that included fisheries biology, climate change, satellite instrumentation and marine biodiversity. She was one of the first six women selected to join the NASA astronaut corps in 1978 and holds the distinction of being the first American woman to walk in space. She flew on three shuttle missions during her 15-year tenure, including the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope.
In February 2016, Kathryn was elected a member of the National Academy of Engineering. Membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to “engineering research, practice, or education."