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Claudia Joan Alexander was born May 30, 1959, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Shortly after being born, the family moved to Santa Clara, California. She was raised by her parents, Gaynelle and Harold. Her mother was a corporate librarian for Intel and her father was a social worker.
Alexander decided early on that she wanted to be a journalist but her parent wanted her to pursue engineering. After interning with the Ames Research Center, she developed an interest in planetary science. In 1983, she earned her BA from the University of California, Berkeley in geophysics.
In 1985, Alexander earned her MA in space physics from the University of California, Los Angeles. By 1993, she had earned her Ph.D. in Atmospheric, Oceanic and Space Science from the University of Michigan.
While completing her education, Alexander worked for the United States Geological Survey where she studied plate tectonics. She then worked at the Ames Research Center. In 1986, she began working for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She worked as a science coordinator for the plasma wave instrument that was placed on the Galileo spacecraft.
Alexander also conducted research on topics, like the evolution and interior physics of comets, Jupiter and its moons, space plasma, and more. She later worked as the science coordinator on the Cassini mission to Saturn.
Alexander strongly advocated for women and people of color in the STEM fields. She particularly worked hard to encourage young women of color to pursue a career in science. In 2015, she gave a TEDx talk, titled The Compelling Nature of Locomotion and the Strange Case of Childhood Education. There, she talked about her approach to teaching children about science.
Alexander worked on a number of major missions with NASA throughout her career, including Rosetta where she was responsible for $35 million worth of equipment. She won a myriad of awards and accolades from 2002 until she died. After a 10-year battle with breast cancer, Claudia Joan Alexander died on July 11, 2015. She was 56 years old.
**The views and actions of the DDH historical figures that are featured may not reflect the views and beliefs of Ramiro The Writer. Thank you.**