Women Who Changed the World Through Science: Monserrate Roman


(Send us your opinion today: What are the challenges faced by NASA engineers and scientists in keeping the Space Station and its astronauts safe from harmful bacteria, viruses and other nasty microbes?  Tell us what you think of Monserrate’s contributions!)

Microbiology may not come to your mind when the name International Space Station (ISS) is mentioned, but it should, says NASA microbiologist Monserrate Roman.  She should know. Monserrate, born and raised in Puerto Rico, was a member of the team which built the early stages of the ISS and designed materials that are microbe-resistant for the Station.

Why She’s Important: Monserrate, as the lead scientist overseeing the life support unit of ISS’s

early construction, was responsible for determining how viruses, fungi, bacteria, parasites and other organisms would behave in space under different situations and locations aboard the Station. This was especially challenging when you consider that the ISS has crew members from 15 participating nations (not to mention visitors) and each person comes with his or her own unique set of microbes, plus microbes from experiments conducted aboard. About 3 crewmembers live on the Station at any one time, staying 3-4 months.

Other Achievements:  Working with engineers, she also ensured that humidity- and temperature-control systems aboard the Station were designed and installed to keep microbe growth in check, and that safe water and air recycling systems were instituted. The Station is situated more than 200 miles above Earth at any given time. 

Current Activities:  Monserrate is now a project manager at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where she began her NASA career in 1989.  She also serves a role model for other students, especially girls, who are considering pursuing careers in science.

Education: B.A. degree in microbiology from the University of Puerto Rico, and her Master’s in the same discipline from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

In Her Own Words: "My family thought I should be a teacher or a secretary, but my science teachers always thought it was really cool that I asked so many questions!"

More like this

PLEASE SHARE IF YOU ARE INSPIRED BY THIS STORY! (Send us your opinion today: How can science and engineering make life better for persons with autism and other learning and physical challenges?  Let us know what you think of Temple's achievements in the face of autism!) Because of autism, Temple…
PLEASE SHARE IF YOU ARE INSPIRED BY THIS STORY! (Send us your opinion today: Think of the various ways you can combine your hobbies and other interests into a  possible career in science! Stephanie merged her love of chemistry with her penchant for textiles and fabrics -- resulting in a life-saving…
PLEASE SHARE IF YOU ARE INSPIRED BY THIS STORY! (C'mon, Hit Us With Your Comments! -- Yvonne, a pioneer of today's GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) technology, came up with the propulsion system that helps keep communication satellites in a fixed geosynchronous orbit. Tell us what you think!)…
She’s sometimes referred to as China's Sally Ride. Liu, a fighter pilot, became China's first female astronaut to travel in space in 2012, helping China accomplish its first-ever manned space docking. Two years after she was recruited for China's rigorous astronaut training program, 33-year-old Liu…