Alongside Biospheric's founder, Dr. Gilbert Levin, Dr. Straat lent her considerable expertise to a groundbreaking endeavor whose intention was to determine whether life had taken root on another world
SYKESVILLE, MD, July 24, 2019 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of biographical profiles, is proud to present Patricia Ann Straat, PhD, with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. An accomplished listee, Dr. Straat celebrates many years' experience in her professional network, and has been noted for achievements, leadership qualities, and the credentials and successes she has accrued in her field. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
An acclaimed scientist whose work has reached two worlds, Dr. Straat accrued over 35 years of experience in her industry before retiring in 2001. As a high school graduate in the 1950s, she attended college where she majored in psychology. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College in 1958, she subsequently studied biochemistry at Johns Hopkins University where she earned a Doctor of Philosophy in 1964. She promptly undertook a postdoctoral fellowship position at Johns Hopkins' Department of Radiological Sciences in the School of Hygiene and Public Health (now the Bloomberg School of Hygiene) for four years, after which she served as an assistant professor in that department for two additional years. In 1970, Dr. Straat accepted a position on the research staff of Biospherics, Inc.
Alongside Biospheric's founder, Dr. Gilbert Levin, Dr. Straat lent her considerable expertise to a groundbreaking endeavor whose intention was to determine whether life had taken root on another world: Mars. Their labeled release experiment was one of three biological experiments that landed on Mars on the 1976 Viking mission. Dr. Straat was Co-Experimenter of that experiment, deeply involved in its development and implementation, and was a member of the Biology Flight Team during the Viking mission. The experiment registered positive for microbial life on the red planet, though the life interpretation of these results remains controversial to this day. While at Biospherics, Dr. Straat was also a team member of the Infrared Spectroscopy experiment on board the 1971 Mariner 9 Mission to Mars, the first spacecraft to orbit Mars. In 2019, Dr. Straat authored a book, "To Mars With Love," a behind-the-scenes account in layman terms of the development, implementation, and interpretation of the labeled release experiment (see https://www.tomarswithlove.com). The book encapsulates the challenges, trials, and tribulations of getting that experiment to Mars, and includes photos of Viking scientists as well as Viking memorabilia and mission humor.
Departing from Biospherics in 1980, Dr. Straat embarked upon a long career with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), holding numerous roles there until her retirement in 2001. She began as a grants associate in 1980, and subsequently ran the Molecular and Cellular Biophysics Study Section for four years. Dr. Straat remained in a leadership capacity for the remainder of her affiliation with the NIH, in particular serving ten years as chief of the referral section until 1996. After retiring from the position of special assistant to the director of the Center for Scientific Review in 2001, she returned to her pivotal role with the historical labeled release experiment, collaborating with other scientists researching the labeled release flight results, consulting with Raytheon Technical Services Company to provide flight data and experimental details to NASA, and collaborating with NASA's National Space Science Data Center to make the labeled release flight data available on line.
Long recognized for innumerable contributions to the field of biochemistry and health sciences, Dr. Straat has been honored with such accolades as a Merit Award from the National Institutes of Health in 1989, and two special recognitions from the Public Health Service. In 1976, she was a member of the group receiving the Newcomb Cleveland Award, granted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). To remain abreast of scientific developments during her career, she maintained membership in several organizations pertinent to her field, namely the Biophysics Society and the honor society of Sigma Xi, and continues membership in the AAAS. Adjacent to her professional journey, Dr. Straat is a keen outdoorswoman, with avocations including horses and fox chasing, woodworking, photography, and showing her dog in agility.
In recognition of outstanding contributions to her profession and the Marquis Who's Who community, Dr. Straat has been featured on the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement website. Please visit www.ltachievers.com for more information about this honor.
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