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Elizabeth Gauldin ('50)

Space Scientist and Pioneer

Photo: Elizabeth Gauldin ('50)

When chemistry graduate Elizabeth Gauldin first went looking for a job as a chemist, prospective employers asked her whether she could type. Undaunted, she became one of the first female scientists in the U.S. space program. Quite literally, Elizabeth helped put man on the moon. In her own awe-inspired words, she says, "I have personally seen lunar dust." As a vital force in the Apollo, Skylab and Shuttle programs, she took part in the dramatic Apollo 13 and Skylab space rescues. This Madison original returned to campus often to lecture and visit classrooms and established a scholarship for students studying space science at JMU. Elizabeth Gauldin wouldn't admit she changed the world, but she sure shook up the universe.

"In a tribute to her mother, Catherine Gauldin wrote: "She never turned down a challenge, never gave up, never wavered from what she believed in and never ignored an opportunity to help someone else."