Astronaut, UCCS alum to inspire undergraduates from local colleges

One of the most famous UCCS alumni 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 beginning at 9 a.m. 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 Nov. 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, CC and USAFA. The conference is expected to attract more than 300 participants and 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, Biology, UCCS. Wolkow serves as chair of the conference organizing committee.

For more information about the conference, visit

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