Astronaut Bernard Harris Jr. M.D. Addresses Healthcare

Ursinus College’s Center for Science and the Common Good presented NASA astronaut Bernard A. Harris Jr. M.D. Sept. 3 in the Lenfest Theater in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center.

Defining himself as a “dreamer who believes nothing is impossible,” Dr. Harris is a NASA astronaut, physician and businessman. He currently serves as president of The Harris Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization he founded in 1998 to develop math/science education and crime prevention programs for America’s youth. Because he credits his personal achievements to self-empowerment and self-determination, he uses this foundation to inspire young people.

The Center for Science and the Common Good provides opportunities for all Ursinus students to consider the impact of science on the common good and is a resource for students on the impact of science and society. It is funded by a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Dr. Harris has accomplished much throughout his life. In 1990, he was selected as a NASA astronaut and flew his first mission three years later. A payload commander of STS-63, the first flight of the joint Russian-American space program, Harris fulfilled his childhood dream by walking in space, becoming the first African American to do so. At the time of his retirement from NASA in 1996, he had logged more than 438 hours in space and traveled over 7.2 million miles.

Equally impressive as his NASA career is Dr. Harris’s career in business and development. He served as Vice President of SPACEHAB, Inc., where he was involved in business development and marketing of the company’s space-based products and services. He also was Vice President of Business Development for Space Media, Inc., establishing an international space education program for students. In addition, he is a member of the board of some of the leading technology companies in the world. Collectively, Harris has 37 years of total experience in research, management and hardware/product development, and has authored numerous scientific publications.

A native Texan born in 1956, Harris earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the University of Houston and later a doctorate of medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine. A trained aerospace flight surgeon, he completed his residency at the Mayo Clinic and fellowship at the NASA Ames Research Center. He also has earned a Master of Medical Science from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston Clear Lake and was the recipient of honorary degrees from Morehouse School of Medicine and Stony Brook University (SUNY).

He holds several faculty appointments including Associate Professor in internal medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch and Assistant Professor at Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Harris serves on several federal, state and corporate boards. He is also a licensed private pilot. He was elected as a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, received the NASA Award of Merit and the 2000 Horatio Alger Award.

The Center for Science and Common Good provides opportunities for all Ursinus students to think, speak, and write about the impact of science on the common good by maintaining a seminar series, hosting a Science Writer in Residence, and developing new courses. In addition, the Center encourages further leadership development among Fellows of the Center, who are prepared explicitly for both scientific and civic leadership, and FUTURE Students of the Center, members of underserved populations in science who are given research opportunities to ensure that they remain in science and have the opportunity to become Fellows of the Center.