Patricia S. Cowings: African American Scientist

Patricia S. Cowings is another great African American woman. She was the
first woman to take astronaut training at NASA. Although she never took off,
she has helped many astronauts through her research.

Patricia Suzanne Cowings was born in New York City on December 15, 1948. Her
father owned a grocery store, and her mother earned a degree at the age of
sixty-five, becoming an assistant teacher for the New York Board of Education.

She first became interested in science at the age of eleven. She was
fascinated by astronomy. She carried on with her interest throughout high
school, and studies psychology in University. She won a scholarship to conduct
research at NASA. She left NASA for a while after that to teach, but returned in

She conducted very important research into zero gravity sickness. This is
something that affects astronauts in much the same way as motion sickness
affects people on earth. She set up a biofeedback program. Biofeedback is when
you teach your body to control things which you normally have no control over,
like reflexes, heart beat, etc.

Her program was a great success and has helped many astronauts overcome the
sickness completely. Some astronauts haven’t been able to get over it totally,
but all have been helped by the research. She also helped set up a program to
prevent muscles wasting in space. This happens because there is no gravity to
make them work hard. She made up exercises to work all the muscles that would
normally be unused in space.

She has received many awards for her work. All of this is a great achievement
for anybody, but especially a woman and African American. Patricia Cowling
believes that her success is as a result of her father telling her that her
color didn’t matter. Read what she
has to say about it.


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