2016 Keynote Speakers

Rhea SeddonDr. Rhea Seddon, Finding Your Own Orbit

Astronaut, Healthcare Executive, Entrepreneur and Author

A veteran of three Space Shuttle flights, Dr. Rhea Seddon spent 19 years with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).  In 1978 she was selected as one of the first six women to enter the Astronaut Program.  She served as a Mission Specialist on flights in 1985 and 1991 and as Payload Commander in charge of all science activities on her final flight in 1993.  Her latter two flights were Spacelab missions dedicated totally to life sciences research.  They collected data on the adaptation to zero-gravity by both men and women, and did the first-ever rat dissections in space.  This brought her total time in space to 30 days.  

After leaving NASA in 1997, Dr. Seddon was the Assistant Chief Medical Officer of the Vanderbilt Medical Group in Nashville, for 11 years.  There she led an initiative aimed at improving patient safety, quality of care, and team effectiveness by the use of an aviation-based model of Crew Resource Management.  She is a founding partner of LifeWings Partners, LLC, which teaches this concept to healthcare institutions across the United States.  

A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in physiology, Dr. Seddon received her MD degree from the University of Tennessee College of Medicine in Memphis, where she completed her residency in General Surgery.

A winner of many prestigious awards, she has been inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, the Tennessee Aviation Hall of Fame, and the Tennessee Women’s Hall of Fame.  Her memoir, Go For Orbit, was published in 2015. 

She lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with her husband and fellow astronaut Captain Robert “Hoot” Gibson and their children.

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