Millie Hughes-Fulford, NASA Shuttle Scientist, Dies at 75
Her research brought hope to develop treatments to reduce T cell immunosuppression, especially in the elderly.
“Millie loved the science,” said Dr. Carl Grunfeld, deputy chief of staff for research and development at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, in an interview. “At some point during her illness, she suggested another way to modify her chemotherapy and got a wonderful remission. When she told me about it, it was with as much joy in science as in the laboratory. “
Millie Elizabeth Hughes was born on December 21, 1945 in rural Mineral Wells, Texas. Her father Charles owned a grocery store. Her mother, Lanore (Wilder) Hughes, was a housewife. Later in life, both parents became teachers.
At the age of 5, Millie was fascinated by science fiction when she saw the early television series “Buck Rogers”. She admired the Wilma Deering character because she was a pilot – and because she wore pants at a time when Millie was always told to wear a dress.
“And so I wanted to be Wilma Deering because she could wear anything she wanted, she flew a spaceship and was a professional woman,” said Dr. Hughes-Fulford in a 2014 interview for the Department of Veterans Affairs website.
Dr. Hughes-Fulford became a pilot and remained a science fiction fan, with a strong devotion to the television series “Star Trek” and the films “Star Wars” as well as the latest “Star Wars” activities at Disney World, which she visits in 2019, said her daughter.
Dr. Realizing that NASA’s missions were limited to men in the 1960s and early 1970s, Hughes-Fulford became a scientist. She attended Tarleton State University (now part of the Texas A&M University System) in Stephenville, where she received a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1968. She has a Ph.D. in chemistry and biology from Texas Woman’s University at Denton in 1972.