Alumni Services

Piers Sellers

Astronaut and ecologist Piers Sellers tells us about why he decided on Edinburgh and the best things about working for NASA.

Name Piers Sellers
Degree Course Ecological Science
Year of Graduation 1976
Piers Sellers

Your time at the University

I went to Edinburgh because it looked like the best place to study Ecology in the UK, which turned out to be true. I loved the city and surrounding wild countryside - beautiful.

I was in the University Air Squadron which was a wonderful change from regular studies. Summers were spent doing highway construction jobs and traveling around Europe, mainly to warm up and get a tan after the long Edinburgh winters.

Tell us about your Experiences since leaving the University

I’ve spent most of my career in Science since leaving Edinburgh. After a PhD at Leeds, I moved to the US and spent many happy years studying the links between the Earths Biosphere and the climate system while working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. A lot of this work was done using computer simulation models, supported by analyses of satellite data and some fieldwork.

During the period 1996-2011, I served in the Astronaut Corps in NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, and flew in space three times, all to the International Space Station. Spacewalking (six times) was easily the best part of this job. Living and working in Russia was another interesting aspect.

In 2011, I moved back to NASA Goddard to take up a job as a senior manager in the Science program there. I'm still there and still enjoying science every day.

Alumni wisdom

It's never too late to change your direction if that’s what you really want to do. The most important thing is to end up doing that which interests and inspires you.