Born: Encino, 1951
Family: Father taught political science at Santa Monica College; mother did volunteer work; one sister became a Presbyterian minister.
Early schooling: Westlake School for Girls in Encino (now Harvard-Westlake High School)
Favorite subjects: Math and science
Least favorite subject: Sewing
Sports: An avid tennis player at age 10; joined the junior U.S. tennis circuit and considered playing professional tennis until college.
Higher education: Earned a dual undergraduate degree in physics and English literature from Stanford. Master's degree and doctorate in physics, also from Stanford.
Career: Applied to the space program in 1977; one of six women selected by NASA to attend the astronaut class of 1978. Chosen as a crew member for the space shuttle Challenger in March 1982. Flew missions in 1983 and 1984.
Life after space: Recently appointed to the presidential commission investigating the Columbia explosion; she was on a similar commission after the 1986 explosion of the Challenger.