DONALD A. THOMAS (PH.D.)
NASA ASTRONAUT (FORMER)
PERSONAL DATA: Born May 6, 1955, in Cleveland, Ohio. Married to the former Simone Lehmann of Göppingen, Germany. They have
one son. He enjoys swimming, biking, camping, flying. His mother, Mrs. Irene M. Thomas, resides in Bloomington, Indiana. Her parents, Margrit and Gerhard Lehmann, reside in Göppingen, Germany.
EDUCATION: Graduated from Cleveland
Heights High School, Cleveland Heights, Ohio, in 1973; received a bachelor of science degree in Physics from Case Western Reserve University in 1977, and a master of science degree and a doctorate in Materials Science from Cornell University in 1980 and 1982,
respectively. His dissertation involved evaluating the effect of crystalline defects and sample purity on the superconducting properties of niobium.
ORGANIZATIONS: Tau Beta Pi; Association of Space Explorers (ASE).
HONORS: Graduated with Honors from Case Western Reserve University in 1977. Recipient of NASA Sustained Superior Performance Award, 1989. Recipient of 4 NASA Group Achievement Awards, 4 NASA Space Flight Medals, 2 NASA Exceptional Service Medals,
and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.
EXPERIENCE: Following graduation from Cornell University in 1982, Dr. Thomas joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey, working as a Senior Member of the Technical Staff.
His responsibilities there included the development of advanced materials and processes for high density interconnections of semiconductor devices. He was also an adjunct professor in the Physics Department at Trenton State College in New Jersey. He holds
two patents and has authored several technical papers. He left AT&T in 1987 to work for Lockheed Engineering and Sciences Company in Houston, Texas, where his responsibilities involved reviewing materials used in Space Shuttle payloads. In 1988 he joined
NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center as a Materials Engineer. His work involved lifetime projections of advanced composite materials for use on Space Station Freedom. He was also a Principal Investigator for the Microgravity Disturbances Experiment,
a middeck crystal growth experiment which flew on STS-32 in January 1990. This experiment investigated the effects of Orbiter and crew-induced disturbances on the growth of crystals in space.
He is a private pilot with over 250 hours in single engine
land aircraft and gliders, and over 800 hours flying as mission specialist in NASA T-38 jet aircraft.