Auñón was hired by NASA as a flight surgeon and spent over nine months in Russia supporting medical operations for International Space Station astronauts.
She served as the deputy crew surgeon for STS-127 and Expedition 22.
Auñón holds a B.S in Electrical Engineering from George Washington University, a Doctorate of Medicine from the University of Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston, Texas (2001), and a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in 2006.
She also completed an aerospace medicine residency at UTMB.
Dr. Auñón came to Johnson Space Center in August 2006, employed as a Flight Surgeon under the UTMB/Wyle Bioastronautics contract.
She spent more than nine months in Russia supporting medical operations for International Space Station crew members in Star City, including water survival training in the Ukraine.
Dr. Auñón served as the Deputy Crew Surgeon for STS-127.
She also held the role of Deputy Lead for Orion – Medical Operations.
It may be difficult to see a connection between engineering and medicine, but both require that you examine problems from all angles and reason through multiple solutions.
She also saw what a difference you could make in a person’s life during a particularly difficult time. She made the decision to enter medical school and loved every minute of it.
While going through medical school, she knew she still wanted to work for NASA and discovered that the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas offered a combined residency program in Internal Medicine and Aerospace Medicine.
In the history of human space flight there have been 15 Latino astronauts, including two women.
Dr. Ellen Ochoa was the first Latina to bust out of atmosphere, in 1993.
(The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova, who flew on one Soviet mission in 1963).
Today there’s one active Latina astronaut, space M.D. (see below) Serena M. Auñón.
Their experiences show that there’s a place in space for up-and-coming Latina scientists, future reinas of Science, Technology and Math (STEM).
On her first flight into space, Dr. Ochoa used the Discover shuttle’s robotic arm to deploy and recapture the Spartan satellite, a reusable astronomical observatory that she used to study the Sun.
She explains the research in the video below.
Ochoa participated in 3 more space missions, including the first-ever docking of Discovery on the International Space Station.
Serena is known as vibrant person who enjoys what she does but no longer flies missions.
She has moved up to a top post at NASA, where she is currently the Director of the Johnson Space Center.
Last summer, a new middle school in East LA was named after her.
Auñón’s family is no stranger to leaving their own figurative “world.” Her father left fled Cuba in 1960.
Now, Serena is preparing to leave her world, literally.
Dr. Auñón wanted to be an astronaut ever since she saw a shuttle launch, when she was in grade school.
That’s because like the future astronautical surgeon Auñón, space shuttles are BAMF.