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NASA’s Role in Hollywood Films

April 6, 2022 @ 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm


Multiple departments across Marshall University will come together to present a discussion about NASA’s Role in Hollywood Films on April 6 at 12 pm in the Don Morris Room and virtually.

The panel discussion will go behind the scenes of the portrayal of NASA in the news and in Hollywood films like First Man, Hidden Figures and The Martian. The panel features Dr. William Barry, NASA chief historian from 2010 to 2022; Kathryn Hambleton, NASA media relations specialist; and Bert Ulrich, Nasa multimedia liaison, film and TV collaborations.

Dr. William Barry headlines the panel, a retired U.S. Air Force Pilot, U.S. Air Force Academy faculty member and NASA’s 6th Chief Historian. He earned his Ph.D. from Oxford University (1996) and his dissertation, “The Missile Design Bureaux and Soviet Manned Space Policy 1953 – 1970” won the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics History Manuscript Award in 2000. Barry worked on Hidden Figures (2016), First Man (2018) and Apollo II (2019).

Bert Ulrich works in NASA Headquarters Office of Communications where he coordinates film and television collaborations and branding issues. He worked with Barry on Hidden Figures and First Man and worked on The Martian (2015). Kathryn Hambleton is the Lead Public Affairs Office at NASA Headquarters, responsible for planning and disseminating news and public information about the agency’s human exploration of deep space.

Dr. Stephen Underhill from the Department of Communication Studies at Marshall University will moderate the discussion.

“The event will offer a space to explore how NASA works with Hollywood to represent its legacy and science more generally,” Underhill said. “Barry’s involvement with filmmakers to portray historically accurate visions of the agency’s missions is noteworthy and will interest teachers and students from many backgrounds. And with Katherine Johnson so prominently featured in Hidden Figures, we have an opportunity to learn about a local history that also includes names like Homer Hickam and others.”

Dr. Carl Mummert is the interim assistant provost and head of the Division of Aviation at Marshall. He says the connections between the state and NASA have been important.

“The connections between the state of West Virginia and NASA have proven to be important ones, with focus on Katherine Johnson, a West Virginia native, in the film Hidden Figures,” Mummert said. “The discussion will give us a chance to look closer at that connection and to examine the barriers she was able to break down during her time at NASA.”

The panel discussion will give a more in-depth look at how NASA works throughout media and in many of the most popular movies involving the federal agency charged with space exploration.

“What captures my imagination is how NASA’s interest in filmmaking traverses fiction and nonfiction formats,” Underhill said. “It offers a glimpse of where the agency is going.”

The discussion is free and open to the public. To take part virtually, visit for more information.

The event is sponsored by Marshall’s College of Science, College of Engineering and Computer Sciences, College of Liberal Arts, College of Arts and Media and College of Education and Professional Development, along with the Office of Intercultural Affairs, the President’s Commission on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and the Marshall University Research Corporation


April 6, 2022
12:00 pm - 2:00 pm
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Don Morris Room
Memorial Student Center | 1 John Marshall Dr
Huntington, WV 25701 United States
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