Dr. Jessica Meir

United States

Dr. Jessica Meir is a comparative physiologist, NASA Astronaut, and a role model for young women worldwide aspiring to become space explorers. She was born and raised in Caribou, Maine, to Israeli and Swedish immigrants to the United States, holding a passion for space exploration since childhood.  She obtained a BA in biology magna cum laude from Brown University in 1999, and later completed an MSc in space studies from the International Space University in France (2000) and a PhD in marine biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego (2009).

From 2000 to 2003, Dr. Meir worked for Lockheed Martin’s Human Research Facility, supporting physiology research on the space shuttle and International Space Station. During this time, she also participated in research flights on NASA's reduced gravity aircraft, and served as an aquanaut in an underwater habitat for NASA. For her PhD research (2003-2009), Dr. Meir studied the diving physiology of marine mammals and birds, focusing on oxygen depletion in diving emperor penguins (Antarctic field research) and elephant seals (northern California). She investigated the high‐flying bar-headed goose during her postdoctoral research at the University of British Columbia (2009-2012), training geese to fly in a wind tunnel while obtaining various physiological measurements in reduced oxygen conditions. In 2012, she accepted a position as assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Meir was selected in 2013 as one of eight members of the 21st NASA Astronaut Class, later serving as a flight engineer on the International Space Station for Expeditions 61 and 62. During these missions, which took place from September 2019 to April 2020, Dr. Meir spent a total of 205 days in space and contributed to hundreds of scientific and technological experiments.

On October 18, 2019, Dr. Meir and her fellow astronaut Christina Koch conducted maintenance outside the International Space Station – replacing an electric power controller. This event made history as it marked the first-ever all-female spacewalk, sparking a keen public debate concerning the role and visibility of women in space exploration, and inspiring a generation of young women to pursue their dream of becoming astronauts. In 2020, NASA selected Dr. Meir to participate in the Artemis Program, which will launch the first manned missions to the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972.

Among her many honors, Dr. Meir has received honorary degrees from Brown University, Bowdoin College, and the Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, in addition to professional awards from NASA and Lockheed Martin. She was also recognized as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.

Raised in a Jewish household, Dr. Meir has expressed her deep connection to Israel, where most of her father's relatives live. She chose the Israeli flag as one of the few personal items that she was allowed to take with her to the International Space Station.