Dr. Bernard A. Harris Jr., a NASA astronaut, became the first African-American to walk in space. On February 9th, 1995, Harris completed a spacewalk as a member of a six-person crew on board STS-63, the first joint American-Russian space program mission and the 20th flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Born in Temple, Texas, in 1956, Harris graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in biology in 1978, and later earned his MD from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine in 1982. In 1985, he completed a residency in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic, and trained as a flight surgeon at the Aerospace School of Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio. In his free time, Dr. Harris earned his private pilot license.
Harris worked at NASA as a clinical scientist and flight surgeon, conducting investigations of space adaption before becoming an astronaut in 1991. Prior to his historic 1995 flight, he was part of the seven-member crew on board Space Shuttle Columbia for STS-55 in 1993. By the time Harris left NASA in 1996, he logged more than 400 hours and traveled over 7 million miles in space. Harris was awarded the NASA Flight Medal and Award of Merit, as well as several honorary doctorates.
Today, Harris serves as CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative (NMSI), where he leads the organization’s efforts to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement in STEM education across the country.