Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger

NASA Astronaut, Underwater Explorer, Earth Scientist, Teacher

A Teacher-Turned Astronaut’s Lesson Plan for Success

An ideal virtual speaker for remote workforces in the midst of the pandemic, Dottie shares practical, actionable recommendations for living in isolation. She spent weeks on both the International Space Station and as commander of NASA’s underwater habitat, the Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 16. These tips, along with her singular, beautifully illustrated story of realizing a nearly impossible dream, have been inspiring and informing audiences around the world in the midst of the COVID crisis.

A teacher who dreamed since childhood of becoming an astronaut, Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger has been a mission specialist with NASA on the International Space Station and a Space Shuttle crew member on STS-131.

“Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger’s story is inspiring to people of all ages, nationalities and professions. Our audience greatly enjoyed hearing her talk about her life, her career path and her experience with NASA. She was a pleasure to work with on the planning side, being quick to respond and accommodating. I highly recommend Dottie to anyone looking to turn a boring old meeting into something truly extraordinary and fit for the stars!” —Novo Nordisk

With math and science teachers for parents, Dottie was drawn to learning and exploration from an early age, and at a time when NASA’s shuttle program was reaching its highest heights. Watching the hard-won success of legends Sally Ride and Kathryn Sullivan–and later the tragedy of teacher-turned-astronaut Christa McAuliffe–made indelible impressions on Dottie. So did an impassioned visit to Space Camp, where Dottie purchased, and later built, a model of the Space Shuttle Discovery. It was an almost prophetic choice: exactly 20 years later, she rode the actual Discovery Shuttle, on mission STS-131, to the International Space Station.

Her TEDx Talk:

“We fully recommend Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger as a speaker…enthusiastic, highly dependable….Dottie keynoted at our virtual CEO Circle, focusing on isolation issues [during the pandemic], as well as at Connect@BCG event…to empower women leaders and cast a spotlight on women in high corporate positions…..Participants praised Dorothy’s level of engagement and shared how they were inspired by her personal story—exactly the result had been hoping for.” BCG, Warsaw, Poland


During her tenure as a high school science teacher in Vancouver, Washington, Dottie found herself on the NASA website, researching a question for a student (“How do astronauts go to the bathroom in space?”). That random inquiry led her to applying to become an astronaut, and—ultimately—to space.

Following space flight, Dottie worked as a Cape Crusader for the final three shuttle missions. She also supported the Astronaut Office Station Operation Branch as a lead for the provisions, manifests, and stowage twig.  Soon after this land-based work, Dottie commanded the NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 16, an underwater habitat with an international crew of aquanauts and habitat technicians. Together, they simulated spacewalks that can be applied to future space research and exploration. 

Dottie is a cum laude graduate of Whitman College in Washington, with honors in geology, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, earned her teaching certification in 1999, and is now a working geologist / earth scientist in Seattle.

Among her awards: Ducan Bonjorni Extraordinary Achievement Award from Central Washington University (2010), Pete Reid Award for Young Alumni from Whitman College (2009), Space Camp Hall of Fame Inductee (2007), VIP for the Vancouver School District (2004), Outstanding Teacher Preparation Candidate at Central Washington University (1999), Geological Society of America (GSA) Field Camp Award (1996) and the following Whitman College Awards:  Leed’s Geology Award and Order of the Waiilaptu, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes (NAIA) Academic All-American in Cross Country and Track (1995-1996) and NAIA Conference Champion in the 10K (1996). She also mapped the last glaciations of Russell Creek in Wyoming and mapped/determined the petrology of rocks in the Wet Mountain region of Colorado; both research positions led to publications.

“We invited Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger to present at our annual client event at the Museum of Flight, an ideal venue for her stories from space. The audience was clearly engaged, and we received very positive feedback from our guests and staff.”
–BECU Trust Services

Dottie, having now earned a Masters in Applied Geosciences, is Senior Staff Geologist at a firm in Seattle. She is also a cum laude graduate of Whitman College in Washington, with honors in geology, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, earned her teaching certification in 1999.

“Dottie was everything we were looking for. Not only was her message great, but she was so gracious….” Mark Di Virgilio, Director, Admissions, Edmonds Community College

Dottie’s keynote—
Extra-Terrestrial: A Teacher-Turned Astronaut’s Lesson Plan for Success

So how does a high school earth science and astronomy teacher end up orbiting the earth 238 times?

In this multi-media program, Dottie shares a powerful tale of realizing her big dreams. And how those of us who remain earthbound can also reach our own seemingly insurmountable, sky-high goals.  Combining her riveting stories with video footage and behind-the-scenes photos from space, Dottie tells audiences what it’s like to train for space travel. And emphasizes the importance of education, service and mentorship at all ages. She also explains how one student’s curiosity about going to the bathroom in space became Dottie’s unlikely bridge to space travel.

Dottie finds her “Lesson Plan” for success is founded on three main principles that we can all apply:

•    Dream boldly, as you build the model of your future self
•    Work purposefully, as you take steps toward what’s next
•    Gain gratitude, as being thankful is earthly rocket fuel for our goals

She’ll also discuss:

•    Why curiosity matters—and how to tap yours more often
•    How a deep desire to serve others is often integral to success
•    While luck factors in, how to make more “luck” happen in your life

Travels from: Seattle, WA