Clemson graduate named first African-American deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center

Vanessa Wyche, deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Photo Credit: NASA.

Vanessa Wyche, a graduate of Clemson University, has been named deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas.

Wyche, 54, is the first African-American to hold the deputy director position at Johnson Space Center, according to a news release.

She will assist director Mark Geyer in leading the facility, which is home to a broad range of human spaceflight activities, including training and research.

“I am incredibly humbled to take on this role at JSC, and also excited to assist Mark with leading the home of human spaceflight,” Wyche said in a statement. “I look forward to working with the talented employees at JSC as we work toward our mission of taking humans farther into the solar system.”

Wyche, a South Carolina native, graduated from Clemson University in 1987 with both a bachelor of science degree in materials engineering and master of science degree in bioengineering, according to the release.

In 1989, after a brief stint with the Food and Drug Administration, Wyche joined NASA as a project engineer for the Space Life Sciences Directorate at JSC. She has since held several leadership positions, including acting director of Human Exploration Development Support and assistant center director.

Prior to her position as deputy director, Wyche served as the director of the Exploration Integration and Science Directorate. She previously served as acting deputy director of JSC from September 2017 to February 2018.

Wyche is the recipient of two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals and two NASA Outstanding Leadership Medals, according to the release.

“Vanessa has a deep background at JSC with significant program experience in almost all of the human spaceflight programs that have been hosted here,” Geyer said in a statement. “She is respected at NASA, has built agency-wide relationships throughout her nearly three-decade career and will serve JSC well as we continue to lead human space exploration in Houston.”

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