Love for outer space propels librarian into NASA role

By Alex Branch

Debbie Web

As a child, Debbie Montenegro was the girl who often showed up school in a Yoda, Spock or outer space-themed shirt.

“I didn’t realize it at the time, but my mom had to buy those shirts from the boy’s section because they didn’t make those clothes for girls then,” said Montenegro, Consumer Health Coordinator for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine South Central Region at UNT Health Science Center.

Even as a health outreach coordinator for a five-state region, Montenegro’s affinity for the cosmos remains strong. She recently was named a NASA Solar System Ambassador by the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, designating her an expert volunteer who helps share NASA’s latest science and discoveries to inspire communities.

The ambassadorship will allow Montenegro to expand efforts she had already made to help science teachers, librarians, and other informal educators integrate NASA educational material into their classrooms. She will also gain access to select scientific briefings conducted by mission scientists and engineers.

She has combined elements of space and health into a class called Astronaut Health:Science Education Resourcesthat she has taught at five conferences.

“It’s really exciting for someone who loves all things outer space,” Montenegro said. “I’ll be making two presentations at the Johnson Space Center soon and just got accepted to a conference at Kennedy Space Center in the summer.”

The ambassadorship program included a fairly rigorous application and training process. There are several hundred NASA ambassadors nationwide and the opportunity to collaborate with people who share her passion for outer space and learning is exciting, she said.

“It’s kind of like finding your people,” she said with a laugh. “It will be great to see what they are working on and share with them what I have done.”

Gibson D. Lewis Health Science Library at UNTHSC is the designated Regional Medical Library (RML) for the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, South Central Region (NNLM SCR).

The NNLM SCR advances the progress of medicine and improves public health through increased access to health information in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.

Recent News

Sad Doctor Ppe
  • Education
|Aug 8, 2022

Health care workers must address their mental health

The numbers are staggering. Each year in the U.S., 300 to 400 physicians die by suicide. Such deaths are between 250% and 400% higher among female physicians when compared with women in other professions, and male doctors have suicide rates as much as 40% higher than the general population. De...
HSC's Pediatric Mobile Clinic
  • Community
|Aug 5, 2022

HSC receives Healthy Kids, Healthy Families grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas

The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth recently was awarded a $25,000 Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas (BCBSTX). The funding will allow the university’s Pediatric Mobile Clinic to continue striving to increase health care ac...
Dr. Shafik Dharamsi
  • On Campus
|Aug 4, 2022

New dean hired to lead HSC School of Public Health

An educator with more than 25 years of transdisciplinary and international teaching, research and leadership experience will join The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth Aug. 15 as the new dean of the School of Public Health. Dr. Shafik Dharamsi was hired after a nationa...
Kaitlyn Mckinley
  • Patient Care
|Aug 3, 2022

Maximizing safety to minimize risk

HSC Health, in partnership with SaferCare Texas, is building out a custom risk reporting solution with a data reporting company called Riskonnect that just launched for clinic use. Riskonnect serves seven out of the 10 largest U.S. health systems and more than 170 health care and life sciences or...