The Dee Howard Foundation and UTSA are honored to announce that Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr. will serve as Honorary Mission Commander for the 2020 Mission to Mars Art Contest.
Dr. Harris is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Math + Science Initiative (NMSI) and leads the organization’s efforts to improve teacher effectiveness and student achievement in STEM education across the country. He has been involved in math and science education for more than 25 years through the Harris Institute & Foundation and as a founding board member for NMSI.
Dr. Harris has stated that “As a dreamer, I often encourage young people that ‘nothing is impossible, if you believe in your dreams.’ For that to happen, we as educators and education advocates must provide students with the tools to empower their dreams. Ultimately, we all benefit through those accomplishments.”
A veteran astronaut, Dr. Harris has logged more than 438 hours and traveled over 7.2 million miles in space. He was the first African-American to complete a space walk. While at NASA, he conducted research in musculoskeletal physiology and clinical investigations of space adaptation and developed in-flight medical devices to extend Astronaut stays in space.
Prior to NMSI, Dr. Harris was CEO and Managing Partner of Vesalius Ventures, Inc., a venture capital firm that invests in early- to mid-stage healthcare technologies and companies. He is a member of the Board of Directors for U.S. Physical Therapy (Nasdaq: USPH), JSA Health and Monebo Technologies. He serves as a Trustee for Salient Fund, Salient MF Trust and Barings Fund & Trust. In addition, he is on the Board of the National Academy of Medicine, the Texas Medical Center, HealthConnect, NMSI, the Harris Institute & Foundation, and The Dee Howard Foundation.
Dr. Harris graduated from Sam Houston High School in San Antonio and earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Houston, a Master of Medical Science from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Houston and a Doctorate of Medicine from Texas Tech University School of Medicine. He completed a Residency in Internal Medicine at the Mayo Clinic, a National Research Council Fellowship in Endocrinology at the NASA Ames Research Center and trained as a Flight Surgeon at the Aerospace School of Medicine, Brooks Air Force Base. He is also a licensed private pilot and certified scuba diver.
Dr. Harris is the recipient of numerous awards, including honorary doctorates from Stony Brook University, Morehouse School of Medicine, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Washington & Jefferson College, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, University of Hartford and Indiana Institute of Technology. He’s also been awarded the NASA Space Flight Medal, NASA Award of Merit and the 2000 Horatio Alger Award.
He is the author of “Dream Walker: A Journey of Achievement and Inspiration ” and a 2017 Inductee to the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame.