Former NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao to speak in Tempe

Leroy Chiao

Leroy Chiao, former NASA astronaut, has been chosen as the 2013 John J. Rhodes Chair in Public Policy and American Institutions in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University and will deliver the 2013 Rhodes Lecture titled “Warp Speed: How Technology is Accelerating and the Importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education.” The lecture will take place at 7 p.m., Feb. 20, at the Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway.

Admission is free and open to the public, however ticket service fees apply. Seating is general admission and reservations are required. Information and ticket reservations, are at

Chiao is no stranger to the importance of STEM education and the advancement of technology. Chiao earned three degrees in chemical engineering and a Q-clearance for nuclear weapons related work at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory before embarking on his 15-year career as a NASA astronaut. With his vast technical education and experience, he offers an exciting glimpse into life on the next quantum level and presents a world in which technology is accelerating much more quickly than ever before. 

Imagine a world in which you are connected directly to the Internet using thought-controlled computer augmentation and a virtual heads-up display or a world in which sensors can identify you instantly – allowing you to travel smoothly and securely, whether you use commercial travel or your automatically piloted vehicle. Imagine a life where personalized medicine allows treatments tailored to your genetics, where replacement organs are grown to be identical to your own. In his presentation, Chiao addresses these feats of technology, what is coming around the bend, what life will be like during the next technological phase, and how it will be the STEM-educated people of today who will give us the world of tomorrow.

Chiao has worked in both government and commercial space programs, and is a part of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and the Center for Space Medicine, both of which are attached to the Baylor College of Medicine. He is a veteran of four space missions, most recently serving as commander and NASA science officer of Expedition 10 aboard the International Space Station.

He has logged more than 229 days in space – more than 36 hours of which were spent in Extra-Vehicular Activity (EVA) or spacewalks. From June to September 2009, he served as a member of the White House appointed Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, and currently serves on the NASA Advisory Council. He also is involved in entrepreneurial business ventures and works in the United States, China, Japan and Russia. Before joining NASA in 1990, he worked as a research engineer at Hexcel Corp. and at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

Chiao earned a bachelor of science in chemical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1983. He also earned a master of science in 1985 and a doctor of philosophy in 1987, both from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The John J. Rhodes Chair in Public Policy and American Institutions in Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, celebrates the public service career of one of Arizona’s and the nation’s most distinguished leaders. The Rhodes Chair is dedicated to deepening theoretical and practical understanding of the many voices and forces that influence public policy. The Chair honors the values of personal integrity, fiscal responsibility, respect for persons, and international farsightedness exemplified in the Honorable John J. Rhodes’ career.