UNC alumna, astronaut Zena Cardman could be first woman to walk on Moon

In the 1997 film Contact, based on the book by Carl Sagan, Ellie Arroway played by Jodie Foster comments on her view of the cosmos: “They should have sent a poet.” NASA has that chance now in UNC Chapel Hill alumna Zena Cardman.

Born in Urbana, Illinois, Zena Cardman calls Williamsburg, Va. home today. She graduated from UNC in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, honors in poetry and minors in marine science, creative writing, and chemistry. She also earned a master’s degree in marine science from UNC in 2014. She was selected to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate class from more than 18,000 applicants. Her research has focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments. Cardman’s field experience includes multiple Antarctic expeditions, work aboard research vessels as both scientist and crew, and NASA analog missions in British Columbia, Idaho and Hawaii.

Read more about Cardman’s accomplishments and journey at NASA.