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Representation in STEM: Koch, Christina Hammock

A digital conduit for student-curated content presenting the contributions and challenges faced by underrepresented prominent figures in STEM. Physical banners were placed on display at Baldwin Wallace in spring 2022 with supporting programming scheduled.

Christina Hammock Koch

“Most kids probably dream of becoming an astronaut. I was just the one that never grew out of it.”

Born in 1979, Christina Hammock Koch is native of Michigan but grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Christina has mentioned publicly that her childhood dream was to become an astronaut. Personally, she has mentioned that she enjoys rock climbing, photography, yoga, surfing, and traveling in her free time. Family is also a very important concept to her and has addressed that time away from them is one of the hardest parts of being in space.

Her strengths in engineering and physics were evident to professionals even in her teenage years. For her last two years of high school attended the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. This was a pivotal step in proving how devoted and intelligent Koch is in the field of science. After high school, she attended North Carolina State University where she earned a degree in electrical engineering and physics. Koch holds both a Bachelor’s Degree and  a Master’s Degree.

Koch embarked on her journey with NASA in 2002 where she worked as an astrophysicist. Then from 2007-2012 she spent her time traveling the Arctic and Antarctic regions doing research. Climatically, in 2013 Koch was selected as a NASA astronaut and completed her training in 2015. Her recruitment as a NASA astronaut of the 21st class was the first in history where an equal number of males and females were represented. She was a part of ISS Expedition 59, 60, and 61. Koch launched on March 14, 2019 with NASA Astronaut Nick Hague and Russian Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. She returned to Earth on February 6, 2020. During that time the crew contributed to hundreds of biological and scientific experiments. Some of her most astonishing attributions include information in regards to dark matter and testing 3D printers in microgravity.

Christina Koch has conducted six spacewalks so far and within that she has made history. One of her spacewalks included the first all women space expedition which she endured with Jessica Meir. This accomplishment was supposed to occur on an earlier timeline but NASA did not have proper fitting spacesuits for the two women. This is just one instance of female adversity that women at NASA face on the daily. Spacesuits were ultimately designed for men and until recent years, female astronauts were unheard of. Due to changing standards and times, Koch was able to get a custom spacesuit for a woman and hence began making history.

Despite the adversity Christina Koch endured due to her gender, she was able to persevere. 556 people have traveled to space in recorded history and only 65 of those individuals were female. Not only was Christina Koch one of those females, but she even holds a space flight record. Koch is physical proof that you can break down stereotypes and make an astonishing attribution to the world. She is a role model to not only women, but to everyone all around the world. Never give up on your dreams and continue to pursue them even if it seems impossible!

Contributing BW student:

Taylor Calarco: Biology major, Chemistry minor