Patricia Hilliard Robertson, the daughter of Ilse Hilliard and the late Harold Hilliard of Homer City was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania on March 12, 1963. A class of 1980 graduate from Homer Center High School, Patricia went on to complete her undergraduate study at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1985. In 2000 IUP conferred upon Dr. Robertson its Distinguished Alumni Award.
Upon completion of a medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia in 1989, Patricia fulfilled the requirements for a three-year residency in Family Medicine, and was certified by the American Board of Family Practice. Pursuing medicine further, Dr. Robertson was one of only two fellows selected to a two-year fellowship in Space Medicine at the University of Texas Medical Branch and NASA’s Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, which she completed in 1997.
Prior to completion of her fellowship in Space Medicine, Dr. Robertson had been part of a group practice in Erie, Pennsylvania and also a member of the staff of St. Vincent hospital where she served as the clinical coordinator for medical student training. As clinical coordinator her duties included providing training supervision for resident physicians. During her enrollment as a Space Medicine Fellow, Dr. Robertson studied eccentric and concentric resistive exercise countermeasures for space flight, upon which her research project was based.
Dr. Robertson later served as a faculty member at UTMB and also provided health care for astronauts and their families at Johnson Space Center, before her selection by NASA in June of 1998. After being selected by NASA, Dr. Robertson participated in Astronaut Candidate Training, an intense orientation of briefings and tours, as well as scientific and technical briefings. The program also included instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems and preparation for T-38 flight training. Among her technical assignments she served as the office representative for the Crew Healthcare System (CHeCS), and as Crew Support Astronaut (CSA) for the ISS Expedition 2 Crew.
Robertson’s completion of the astronaut candidate program qualified her as a
regular member of the astronaut corps, and made her eligible for a choice of
various flight assignments. As a Mission Specialist Candidate, Patricia learned
a number of responsibilities including coordinating on-board operations such as
crew activity planning, use and monitoring of the Shuttle’s consumables (food,
water, fuel) and conducting experiments. Mission Specialists also perform
on-board experiments, spacewalks, called extravehicular activity (EVA) and
payload handling functions involving payload support equipment.
Dr. Robertson died May 24, 2001 of injuries sustained in the crash of a private plane at Wolfe Air Park in Manvel, Texas. She is survived by her husband Scott Robertson; her mother, Ilse Hilliard; and brothers Timothy, Scott and Keith.
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