Black Inventors and Innovators - Patricia Cowings
Doesn't matter where you are from or what you look like. Doesn't matter if you're poor. A human being can learn and can achieve whatever they set out to do (or come near to it). I've spent my life studying human potential—and stretching my own.
Don't give up. No matter how bad or scary it gets. Not even when you ask yourself "What am I doing here?"
—Dr. Patricia S. Cowings
Patricia Cowings was born December 15, 1948 in New York, New York. Cowings was raised in the Bronx with her three brothers. Cowings credits her Parents but especially her aunt as her biggest influences. Growing up Cowings saw that all the good jobs were held by white men and tried to figure out where she would fit in. For Cowings her aunt was a role model because she was a Black woman with a Ph.D in psychology and had a very good job. Cowings’ aunt showed her that she had possibilities and her parents reinforced these ideologies.
Cowings biggest interests growing up were in Science Fiction; she read Science Fiction books and was/is a huge Star Trek fan. These interests helped to push her towards her career path. While getting her psychology degree she was not sure what she wanted to do with the degree until started studying about brain functions and understanding how the brain works specifically how to control brainwave activity. This new focus lead Cowings to go for her Ph.D.
Cowings has a Ph.D in psychology with a specialization in Aerospace Psychophysiology and is the Director of Psychophysiology Research Facility in the Gravitational Research Branch at NASAAmesResearchCenter.
Cowings research focuses on the psychological and biological problems experienced by astronauts as they adapt to the changes in environment and gravity going from Earth to Space and back to Earth again. Cowings helped advance our nation’s ability to explore space. She created a special suit that warns astronauts if they are about to get motion sickness. She also developed a way to train astronauts to control their heart rate, breathing and other body functions to keep the astronauts from getting sick while being weightless in space.
Cowings is very open about the obstacles that she has had to overcome being a Black woman scientist; not being taken seriously as a scientist because she is a Black woman. Cowings is truly a role model to all; a woman who has struggled to get to where she is through much adversity.