Distinguished Physicist, Director and Astronaut Will Be Honored at Wellesley College’s 2006 Alumnae Achievement Awards

For immediate release:
January 13, 2006
Arlie Corday

WELLESLEY, Mass. -- Wellesley College has announced the three recipients of its 2006 Alumnae Achievement Award. The award recognizes alumnae who have brought honor to themselves and to the college through their outstanding achievements. It is the highest honor given to alumnae for excellence and distinction in their fields of endeavor and has been presented annually since 1970. The following alumnae will be recognized at the Alumnae Achievement Award Ceremony on Friday, Feb. 10, at 5:30 pm in Alumnae Hall Auditorium on the Wellesley, Mass., campus:

  • Persis Drell of Stanford, Calif., a member of the Wellesley class of 1977. A renowned physicist, Drell received a B.A. from Wellesley in mathematics and physics and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1983. She began her career at Cornell University as an assistant professor, where her work focused on particle physics. She served as deputy director of Cornell’s particle accelerator facility and as leader of the university’s experimental program in particle physics. In May 2002, Drell left Cornell to become the first woman associate director of research at Stanford University’s Linear Acceleration Center (SLAC), one of the two largest and most important facilities in the country. Drell is among a handful of national and international leaders in particle physics. Discover Magazine named her one of the “50 Most Important Women in Science” in 2002. In 2005, she was named deputy director of SLAC and director of particle astrophysics. In addition, she serves as deputy project manager for SLAC’s first space experiment, GLAST (Gamma Ray Large Area Telescope); its launch is anticipated this year.

 • Nora Ephron of New York City, a member of the Wellesley class of 1962. An award-winning screenwriter, producer and director, Ephron began her career as a newspaper reporter for the New York Post. She has written for nationally prominent publications including Esquire, The New York Times Magazine and New York Magazine. In the early ’80s, she turned her attention to film, writing the screenplays for acclaimed films such as Silkwood (1983), Heartburn (1986) and When Harry Met Sally (1989). In the early ’90s, in addition to writing, she tried her hand at directing and producing. She created films such as Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Michael (1996), You’ve Got Mail (1998), Lucky Numbers (2000) and Bewitched (2005). Ephron received Academy Award nominations for best screenplay for Silkwood, When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle. When Harry Met Sally was also nominated for a best screenplay in the Golden Globe awards, and that film as well as Sleepless in Seattle received best screenplay nominations from the Writers Guild of America.

• Pamela Melroy of Houston, Texas, a member of the Wellesley class of 1983. An astronaut and pilot on NASA’s Space Shuttle, Melroy graduated from Wellesley with a B.A. in physics and astronomy and was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force through the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. After earning her master’s degree in planetary science from MIT, she attended undergraduate pilot training at Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas. Colonel Melroy flew with the U.S. Air Force for six years as a copilot, aircraft commander and instructor pilot. She served in Desert Storm/Desert Shield and logged more than 200 combat and combat-support hours. In 1991, she attended the Air Force Test Pilot School and became the second woman ever to be selected as a test pilot. She served as a test pilot for two years before being selected as an astronaut for NASA, one of 20 candidates selected from more than 4,000 applicants. She has served as pilot on two flights (STS-92 in 2000 and STS-112 in 2002), both of which traveled to the International Space Station. In piloting the STS-92 Discovery, Colonel Melroy became just the third woman to pilot the space shuttle. She has logged over 562 hours in space and is expected to be commander of her next mission.

Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal-arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 68 countries. For more information, go to www.wellesley.edu.