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Jan. 26, 2000
John Bluck
NASA Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, CA
650/604-5026 or 604-9000


Students from across the nation will be able to 'chat' via the Internet with at least nine NASA African-American professionals during Black History Month.

During the chats, students will be able to use computers to direct questions and receive "live" answers from African Americans who will describe their roles in and contributions to the space program. The chat sessions will begin on Thurs., Feb. 3, at 1:00 p.m. PST, and are scheduled throughout the month on NASA's Quest website:

"When I was a kid in the southeast Bronx, also known as Fort Apache, I didn't know that the kind of job I now have existed, and I didn't know that there was any possibility I could do that job," said Dr. Patricia Cowings, a research psychologist at NASA's Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, CA.

Her chat session is scheduled to begin at 11:00 a.m. PST, Wed., Feb. 9. "I'm going to give kids the message that they can do those jobs, and that it's important to follow your dreams," Cowings added.

"NASA Quest's annual series of Black History Month chats offers K-12 students and the general public an opportunity to interact with various African American men and women who support NASA's mission and goals," said Oran Cox, who organized the chat series at NASA Ames. "We believe this exchange is significant in providing role models for young people and will help in reaching populations historically underrepresented in science, engineering and technology fields."

Scheduled NASA participants include two aerospace engineers, an electronics engineer, a biomedical engineer, a nutritionist, a computer scientist, a psychologist, a chemist and a physicist. Cox expects that more sessions will be added throughout the month. First-come, first-served pre-registration via the Internet is required in order for students to participate in the chat sessions. Other people can observe the conversations without registering.

"We design and build custom-made lasers to investigate the makeup of the atmosphere," said Julie Williams-Bryd, an aerospace engineer from NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA. She will take part in a two-day "forum," that will begin on Tues., Feb. 8 at 8 a.m. PST.

An Internet forum is a chat room that remains open 24 hours a day to receive queries, but responses to the typed questions may not be "live."

Internet Schedule

Thurs., Feb. 3, 1:00 p.m. PST
Chat with Laurie Marshall, aerospace engineer,
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, CA

Tues., Feb. 8 through Thurs., Feb. 10, two-day forum begins 8:00 a.m. PST
Forum with Julie Williams-Byrd, electronics engineer/aerospace technologist,
NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, VA

Tues., Feb. 8, 9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. PST
Chat with Kim Hubbard, computer scientist,
NASA Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, CA

Wed., Feb. 9, 11:00 a.m. PST
Chat with Patricia Cowings, Ph.D., research psychologist,
NASA Ames Research Center, Silicon Valley, CA

Wed., Feb. 16, 11:00 a.m. PST
Chat with Dionne Jackson, analytical chemist,
NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL

Thurs., Feb. 17, 10:00 a.m. PST
Chat with Janis Davis-Street, nutritionist,
NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX

Wed., Feb. 23, 11:00 a.m. PST
Chat with Daniel Winterhalter, Ph.D., space plasma physicist,
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA

Thurs., Feb. 24, 9:00 a.m. PST
Chat with Aprille Ericsson-Jackson, Ph.D., aerospace engineer,
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

Thurs., Feb. 24, 10:00 a.m. PST
Chat with Jennifer Murray, biomedical engineer,
NASA Kennedy Space Center, FL.

Please check Quest website for more information: http://quest.nasa.gov/qchats/special/mlk00/

Or telephone: Marc Siegel, 650/604-1518; Oran Cox, 650/604-2436 or Karen Traicoff, 650/604-4066.


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