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|Maria Catalina became a space enthusiast during junior high school when the Eagle landed on the Moon in 1969. Dreams of making medicine on the Moon, from plants used by the Mescalero Apache (her maternal ancestors), faded when her Home Economics teacher laughed at the idea. She said, "The closest you will ever get to chemistry is to make a good jar of jam, and the closest you will ever get to NASA is to wish upon a star." She wished upon the star in the middle of the Belt of Orion, but left school after 10th grade After enrolling in the University of California in 1994, as a sophomore, Maria won a NASA Fellowship – the NASA Specialized Center of Research Training in Exobiology Fellowship. Her research involving the origin of DNA received one of six awards in a graduate student competition at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Earning a BA in Bionomy (2000) with high honors, she deferred an invitation to the first NASA Astrobiology Institute PhD program with a Sloan Fellowship for a middle school math and science teaching credential to have the schedule of her high school sons and be sure they graduated. Now, Joey is an Aero Space Engineering senior at Cal Poly, Niko will be doing Mechanical Engineering at San Jose State and Mike graduated from High School. Since her credential in 2002 she was nominated for NASA Educator Astronaut in 2003, published Native American Science, won the AAAS Best Science Lesson award, is a Honeywell Educator Scholar, an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship finalist, and took the weightless flight. Maria is now a middle school teacher of math and science, a JPL NASA Solar System Ambassador and on the Board of Directors for the National Space Society San Diego Chapter.|
|Appeared on the following broadcasts:|
#1188 - Guest: Maria Catalina. Topics: The Astronaut Teacher Alliance, Atacama Desert in Chile, Teachers... (7/10/2009)
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