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Physician, Astronaut Bernard Harris to Address Graduates at Bicentennial Commencement

By Jenna Pizzi

Published on February 22, 2021

Bernard HarrisBernard A. Harris, Jr., MD, a physician and astronaut,  has been selected to address the Class of 2021 at the 200th Commencement Ceremony on May 26, 2021.

USciences is committed to the health and well-being of our extended University family in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. USciences will grant graduates their degrees via a live-streamed, virtual ceremony. 

In recognition of Dr. Harris’ contributions to STEM education, science, and medicine, he will also receive an honorary doctor of science degree during the ceremony and graduate with the class of 2021.

Dr. Harris, who now holds the position of Chief Executive Officer of the National Math and Science Foundation (NMSI), leads 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. Prior to NMSI, Dr. Harris conducted research at NASA in musculoskeletal physiology and clinical investigations of space adaptation. He developed in-flight medical devices to extend Astronaut stays in space. Dr. Harris logged more than 400 hours and traveled over 7.2 million miles in space. He is also the first African American to complete a space walk. 

Dr. Harris was previously CEO and managing partner of Vesalius Ventures, Inc., a venture capital firm. He is currently on the Board of Directors for U.S. Physical Therapy, JSA Health and Monebo Technologies. He is a Trustee for Salient Fund and Salient MF Trust and Barings Fund & Trust. He is on the Board of the National Academy of Medicine, the Texas Medical Center, HealthConnect, NMSI, and the Harris Institute & Foundation. 

Dr. Harris earned his bachelor of science and master of business administration from University of Houston, master of medical science from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and a doctorate 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 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.”

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