Born December 14, 1960, in Charleston, South Carolina. Enjoys flying, scuba diving, sports, music. As an undergraduate, she competed in intercollegiate athletics on MIT’s crew team. Her father, James J. Coleman, resides in Vancouver, Washington. Her mother, Ann L. Doty, resides in Westerly, Rhode Island.
Graduated from W.T. Woodson High School, Fairfax, Virginia, in 1978; received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983, and a doctorate in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts in 1991.
Member of the American Chemical Society, the Society for Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE), the American Association of University Women, and the International Womens’ Air and Space Museum.
Coleman was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force in 1983 and began graduate work at the University of Massachusetts. Her research focused on polymer synthesis using the olefin metathesis reaction, and polymer surface modification. In 1988, Coleman entered active duty and was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. As a research chemist at the Materials Directorate of the Wright Laboratory, she synthesized model compounds to investigate the use of organic polymers for third-order nonlinear optical applications such as advanced computers and data storage. Coleman also acted as a surface analysis consultant for the Long Duration Exposure Facility (launched from STS 41-C in 1984 and retrieved during STS-32 in 1990). In addition to assigned duties, Coleman was a volunteer test subject for the centrifuge program at the Crew Systems Directorate of the Armstrong Aeromedical Laboratory. She set several endurance and tolerance records during her participation in physiological and new equipment studies.
Coleman was selected by NASA in March 1992 and reported to the Johnson Space Center in August 1992. Initially assigned to the Astronaut Office Mission Support Branch and detailed to flight software verification in the Shuttle Avionics Integration Laboratory, Coleman subsequently served as the special assistant to the Center Director, Johnson Space Center. She trained as STS-83 backup mission specialist to Dr. Don Thomas when he suffered a broken right ankle following the conclusion of a routine training exercise. Presently, Coleman is assigned to the Astronaut Office Payloads and Habitability Branch. She works with experiment designers to insure that payloads can be operated successfully in the microgravity environment of low earth orbit, and is the lead astronaut for long term space flight habitability issues, such as accoustics and living accommodations aboard the International Space Station.
From October 20 to November 5, 1995, Coleman served as a mission specialist aboard Space Shuttle Columbia on STS-73, the second United States Microgravity Laboratory mission. The mission focused on materials science, biotechnology, combustion science, the physics of fluids, and numerous scientific experiments housed in the pressurized Spacelab module. In completing her first space flight, Coleman orbited the Earth 256 times, traveled over 6 million miles, and logged a total of 15 days, 21 hours, 52 minutes and 21 seconds in space.