Karen knows space. From a young age, she embraced the mission of exploration and scientific discovery—in part because her parents worked at NASA for a combined total of 72 years. She recalls her father having the second coolest job at NASA (short of being an astronaut): He ran the Zero Gravity Program that trained astronauts by flying planes in parabolic arcs over the Gulf of Mexico. What’s more, the movie Apollo 13 was filmed on his plane.
Her mom worked in the payload (science experiments) and astronaut offices. Karen’s interest grew further when she saw the impact the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion had on her classmates and their families. She knew she wanted to be part of NASA to support the mission.
Karen was offered full-time employment by a NASA contractor after her successful completion of several college internships. For the next 31 years, she focused on the mission of space.