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Next Generation

UC San Diego alumna reaches for the stars.

UC San Diego alumna and NASA astronaut candidate Deniz Burnham

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This story was published in the Fall 2022 issue of UC San Diego Magazine

In January 2022, Deniz Burnham '07 reported for two years of initial astronaut training as a NASA astronaut candidate. A former intern at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, Calif., Burnham is a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy and serves in the Navy Reserves.

At the time of her selection as a NASA astronaut candidate, Burnham had spent more than a decade in the energy industry, where she managed drilling optimization projects and emission reduction strategies for drilling rigs. She began her career as a field engineer on a remote oil rig in Purdhoe Bay, Alaska. As a lead field engineer, she was responsible for all aspects of the measurement and logging during drilling operations at drilling rig sites throughout the Arctic. Burnham received a degree in chemical engineering from UC San Diego’s Warren College before earning a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Southern California.

Of the 16 current female NASA astronauts, Burnham joins fellow UC San Diego alumnae Jessica Meir, PhD ’09; Megan McArthur, PhD ’02; and Kate Rubins ’99.

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