NASA Scientist Credits NSU for Her Doctoral Degree and Pays It Forward

Photo of Gale J. Allen.Profile: Gale J. Allen respects a personal-professional balanced approach toward life and individuals who constantly seek knowledge. "If at the end of the week I haven't learned something new, then I have failed," Allen said. NASA's deputy chief scientist, Gale Allen, received a bachelor's degree and a master's of science in chemistry from Old Dominion University, a master's in business administration from Brenau University, and a Ph.D. in business—with an emphasis in high-technology partnership development—from Nova Southeastern University (NSU).

Raised in Virginia and having attended kindergarten through twelfth grade in the same school building with 39 peers, Allen's successful career trajectory is atypical. "I am the only person in my immediate family to have gone to college," she said. "It was an amazing goal to achieve."

What Matters Most: Education, space exploration, business management, and altruism are important to Allen. A recipient of the NASA Space Act, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, and an Exceptional Performance Award, Allen regularly interfaces with Congress and the Office of the President on science matters. As a self-proclaimed "space junky," Allen, who believes a human will be on Mars in the 2030s, habitually reads scientific journals and enjoys space-themed entertainment. "I grew up with Star Trek," she said. "I'm amazed because it was science fiction then, but we are actually developing technologies that were developed in that series—such as an asteroid-redirect mission."

An avid hiker who enjoys the Blue Ridge Mountains as well as urban rambles in cities like New York, Allen also recently developed an interest in genealogy. On her mother's side, she traced her French lineage to 1100 AD. "Evidently, we were part of aristocracy, but I joked with my sister that we went downhill from there," she said.

As vice president for the board of directors for the Zonta Club of Fairfax County, an organization of professionals empowering women in 67 participating countries through service and advocacy, Allen finds altruism a vocation. "We raise money through various activities," she said. "We donate funds and also provide three scholarships in the county, including one female student at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology."

Allen's desire to give back was learned as a child, and her generosities are far-reaching. She is especially fond of NSU because it allowed her to pursue a virtual doctorate degree while balancing her personal and professional life. "NSU provided me the opportunity to work, raise my daughter—I was a single parent at the time—and to get my doctorate," she said. "That was priceless. It was a no-brainer for me to give back to the next person."


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