Tracy Caldwell

Honorary Degrees

Tracy CaldwellTracy Caldwell


California State University, Fullerton​

Tracy Caldwell began exploring the scientific worlds of electricity and construction early, accompanying her father to commercial and light industrial construction sites by age seven, eventually getting so good that she nearly became a journeyman electrician.

By high school, she knew her destiny lay in the stars. In 1989, she entered California State University, Fullerton, where her mechanical, electrical and intellectual skills caught the eyes of Professors John Olmstead and Scott Hewitt, who invited her to join a research group helping to design, construct and implement electronics and hardware associated with a laser-ionization, time-of-flight mass spectrometer for studying atmospherically-relevant gas-phase chemistry.

The California native received a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree in 1993. She has long credited Cal State Fullerton with providing the launching pad for her subsequent success. She earned a Doctorate in Physical Chemistry in 1997 from UC Davis, and was given the Outstanding Doctoral Student Award.

In 1997, Dr. Caldwell received the Camille and Henry Drefus Postdoctoral Fellowship in Environmental Science at UC Irvine. Her numerous honors include the NASA Performance Award; NASA Go the Extra Mile Award; Cal State Fullerton’s Vision & Visionaries Distinguished Alumni Award; and the NASA Superior Accomplishment Award. She is a licensed pilot and is fluent in Russian, Spanish and American Sign Language.

Selected for Astronaut Candidate Training in 1998, Dr. Caldwell qualified as a mission specialist, and in 1999 was assigned as a Russian Crusader in the testing and integration of Russian hardware and software products developed for the International Space Station. In 2000, she was named prime Crew Support Astronaut for the 5th ISS Expedition crew. In 2003, she transitioned to the Astronaut Shuttle Operations Branch at Kennedy Space Center.

On August 8, 2007, Dr. Caldwell left earth aboard the space shuttle Endeavour, her first space flight. As mission specialist, she organized all four of the spacewalks performed by three crew members during the 13-day mission and logged 305 hours and 5.3 million miles in space.

In recognition of her outstanding leadership, her years of service to America's space program, her community service and the example she has set for every child who wonders whether their dreams exceed their grasp, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and California State University, Fullerton are proud to confer upon Tracy Caldwell the honorary degree of Doctor of Science.