Peggy A. Whitson (Ph.D.) to date (August 22,2017), has spent 655 days in space, holding the record as the oldest astronaut at 57-years-old and the record for most time any American has spent in space. On October 10, 2007, Whitson became the first woman to command the International Space Station and launched with Expedition 16 crewmates on the Soyuz TMA-11. On March 30, 2017 she performed her eighth spacewalk, the most ever performed by a woman and on that walk she raised the record from 40 total hours accumulated by a woman spacewalking to 50 hours.
She is currently part of Expedition 50/51, which is her third long-duration mission to the International Space Station. Whitson and her crewmates, Cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet launched on November 17, 2016. The Iowa native completed two six-month tours of duty aboard the station for Expedition 5 in 2002, and as the station commander for Expedition 16 in 2008.
Peggy received a Bachelor of Science in Biology/Chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan College in 1981 and a Doctorate in Biochemistry from Rice University in 1985. Following completion of her graduate work, she continued at Rice University as a Robert A. Welch Postdoctoral Fellow until October 1986. Following this position, she began her studies at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, Texas, as a National Research Council Resident Research Associate. From April 1988 until September 1989, Whitson served as the Supervisor for the Biochemistry Research Group at KRUG International, a medical sciences contractor at NASA-JSC. From 1991 to 1997, Whitson was invited to be an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics at University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas. In 1997, Whitson began a position as Adjunct Assistant Professor at Rice University in the Maybee Laboratory for Biochemical and Genetic Engineering.