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NASA Astronaut Christina Koch to Deliver NC State Commencement Address

NC State alumna and astronaut Christina Koch
NASA astronaut and NC State alumna Christina H. Koch. Credit: NASA.

For Immediate Release

Mick Kulikowski, NC State News Services,

At North Carolina State University’s first-ever virtual commencement ceremony, NASA astronaut and NC State alumna Christina H. Koch will help blast off the NC State spring, summer and fall graduates of 2020.

Koch will deliver the commencement address during NC State’s virtual commencement, which will be streamed at 6 p.m. EST on Dec. 4. Chancellor Randy Woodson will confer an honorary degree on Koch. The ceremony will also include remarks from graduating students and university leaders.

A native of Michigan who grew up in Jacksonville, North Carolina, Koch is a three-time graduate of NC State. She graduated in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, and earned a Bachelor of Science in physics and a Master of Science in electrical engineering in 2002.

Koch was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2013, and completed astronaut candidate training in 2015. She served as a flight engineer on the International Space Station for three expeditions.

When she returned from space earlier this year, Koch set the record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman – with a total of 328 days in space. Along with fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir, she participated in the first all-woman spacewalk.

The crews she served on contributed to hundreds of scientific experiments, according to NASA. Some of the highlights from her missions include improvements to a scientific instrument called the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which is used to study dark matter, and growing protein crystals for pharmaceutical research.

Prior to becoming an astronaut, Koch held roles in remote scientific field engineering, which took her to American Samoa, Antarctica, Alaska and Greenland, and in space science instrument development. Her roles included work as an electrical engineer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics and as a research associate for the U.S. Antarctic Program.

A video of the commencement ceremony will be available after it streams on Dec. 4, and a link will be sent to all graduates and their families. For more information about virtual commencement, click here.