Member Spotlight: Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger

“What did it mean for me to join Phi Beta Kappa? At the time, I remember looking at my fellow inductees and thinking how I knew each classmate and how we had all worked hard in our classes but also fully participated in the Whitman life—volunteering, organizing, and serving.  Looking back, I realize that the liberal arts experience shaped how I approach life: constantly curious, passionate, and driven.”

— Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger

A former NASA astronaut and high school science teacher, Dorothy “Dottie” Metcalf-Lindenburger is an environmental geologist and consultant for Geosyntec. She earned her bachelor’s degree in geology at Whitman College where she graduated cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1997. Metcalf-Lindenburger taught high school science before joining NASA and the Astronaut Corps in 2004. 

In 2010, Metcalf-Lindenburger flew on mission STS-131 aboard the space shuttle Discovery to resupply the International Space Station. Logging 362 hours in space, she served as the flight engineer, an intra-vehicular activity crewmember for three spacewalks, and a shuttle robotic arm operator. 

She also commanded a NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operation in the Aquarius Reef Habitat off the Florida coast in 2012. During this 12-day underwater mission, she simulated spacewalks at a near-Earth asteroid; operated under a 100-second, one-way communication delay; and conducted educational and public appearances.

Metcalf-Lindenburger retired from the Astronaut Corps in 2014 and went on to complete her master’s degree in geology at the University of Washington. As an environmental geologist, she works to solve problems for remediating soil and groundwater. She also speaks to various audiences about her experiences as an astronaut and to promote STEM and STEAM education.  

Photo above: Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger at the window of the Japanese Experiment Module on the International Space Station.