News & Politics

Barbara Mikulski: "I’d be a Trekkie in two hot seconds."

Maryland Senator Barbara Mikulski is leaving her post in 2016. Perhaps, a career in astronomy is next?

Photograph by Simon Bruty.

When Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland was little, her parents took her to a movie about chemist and physicist Marie Curie. Thus began her lifelong love of science. Later she got a chemistry set and imagined herself winning two Nobel Prizes. But she was clumsy in the lab, so she switched to debate and drama, then became a social worker.

Once elected to the House of Representatives, Mikulski says, “I figured if I wasn’t going to develop the cure for cancer, discover a planet, or develop a tsunami warning system, I could be on the committees that support all of this.”

Although Mikulski—elected to the Senate in 1986—is committed to medical research, her true love is space.

“I’d be a Trekkie in two hot seconds,” she says. But she admits a more realistic job would be an astronomer.

“While I would love to go up to the distant planets and find new galaxies,” she says, “I wouldn’t want to be an astronaut. I don’t quite see myself in the costume.”

Nancy Doyle Palmer is a DC writer whose fantasy is to be a backup singer with Kool and the Gang.

This article appears in our October 2005 issue of Washingtonian.