Astronaut, a UCCS alum, to inspire local undergraduates

By Staff

One of the most famous alumni of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs will provide the keynote address for students from UCCS, the United States Air Force Academy and Colorado College participating in an undergraduate research forum.

John Herrington, the first Native American astronaut and a 1983 UCCS alum, will speak at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 10, in the Lodge on the UCCS campus. His address will kick off a day-long series of presentations by more than 300 students in areas ranging from science and engineering to visual and performing arts.

Herrington's speech is expected to challenge the students to pursue their ideas and dreams. Since his November 2002 flight aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour, Herrington has made regular appearances with student groups to encourage pursuit of academic and career goals. A member of the Chickasaw Nation, he is a frequent speaker to groups of Native American youth where he shares his personal story of being on academic probation at UCCS, graduating with a degree in mathematics, serving as an aviator in the U.S. Navy, earning a master's degree in aeronautical engineering and, in 1996, joining NASA.

Now retired, Herrington makes his home in Idaho and is pursuing a doctoral degree in addition to numerous speaking engagements.

"I believe the journey never really ends because the destination is never static," Herrington wrote in a blog during a cross-country bicycle trek to encourage student participation in science, technology, engineering and math. "There should always be another place to go or challenge to accomplish as we go through life. When one adventure ends, another one starts."

For more about Herrington, visit

Now in its seventh year, the Colorado Springs Undergraduate Research Forum is a collaborative effort designed to highlight the accomplishments of undergraduate students at UCCS, Colorado College and the Air Force Academy. The conference is free for currently enrolled students at the three schools.

The students will present the results of their work in formats including oral presentations and posters. Faculty will interact with the students, offering comments on their work and suggestions for new directions, according to Tom Wolkow, assistant professor of biology at UCCS. Wolkow serves as chair of the conference organizing committee. Other organizers include Ryan E. Guiberson, political science instructor at the academy, and Murphy Brasuel, assistant professor of chemistry at Colorado College.

For more information about the conference, visit