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BioHouston honors NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson for scientific excellence

BioHoustonTwo Rice faculty members—NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson '86 and Bioengineering's Rebecca Richards-Kortum—were honored Sept. 20 at BioHouston's 2011 "Celebrating Women in Science" luncheon in downtown Houston.The annual luncheon began in 2009 and recognizes and celebrates the achievements of women who have made extraordinary contributions in the life sciences, energy, engineering, mathematics, technology and related fields.

Whitson, chief of the astronaut office at NASA Johnson Space Center and adjunct professor of biochemistry and cell biology at Rice, has logged 377 days in space -- more than any other American astronaut. She has also commanded the international space station (ISS) and served as ISS's first science officer during her initial visit there in 2002. She is currently responsible for the mission preparation activities of all ISS crews and their support personnel.

Richards-Kortum is the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering and director of Rice 360º: Institute for Global Health Technologies. She has spent the past two decades working on translating research that integrates advances in nanotechnology and molecular imaging with microfabrication technologies to develop inexpensive, portable optical imaging systems that provide point-of-care diagnosis for diseases ranging from cancer to malaria.

BioHouston's past honorees from Rice include Kathleen Matthews, the Stewart Memorial Professor of Biochemistry, and Jennifer West, the Isabel C. Cameron Professor, chair of the Department of Bioengineering and professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

For additional information, visit www.biohouston.org.