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Victoria Steiner                                                                                                                                                                                              Nov. 19, 2003

NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.

Phone: 650/604-0176 or 650/604-9000







NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: NASA Ames Research Center is pleased to inaugurate a series of profiles of exceptional employees, both civil servant and contractor, who carry out the space agency's mission “to understand and protect our home planet, to explore the universe and search for life, and to inspire the next generation of explorers.” Interviews with Dana Bolles can be arranged by contacting Victoria Steiner at 650/604-0176 or by e-mail at




To her colleagues and friends, Dana Bolles is an inspiration. Whether she is carrying out her job as an environmental compliance specialist for NASA or raising funds to fight breast cancer, Bolles always has an upbeat attitude.


Born with no arms or legs, Bolles nonetheless decided to do her best to overcome her physical challenges. For the past 5 years, she has ensured that her employer, NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., indeed protects and improves life on Earth by managing programs that monitor air quality, industrial wastewater, toxic gases, aboveground storage tanks, and spill prevention and control countermeasures.


“For each program, my job is to ensure that NASA Ames maintains compliance with all applicable federal, state and local laws and regulations,” Bolles explained. “This job is challenging most of the time, especially since we are located in the San Francisco Bay area, where local regulations often are some of the most stringent in the country.”


Bolles helps NASA Ames carry out its commitment to environmental protection by ensuring its compliance with environmental regulations and by obtaining the required permits for all equipment and processes that may potentially pollute the air or water. She also supervises tracking of activities that must be monitored for compliance, and she acts as a consultant when others need help to meet environmental regulations.


Bolles attended the University of California, Santa Cruz, for 2 years, and graduated from the California State University, Long Beach, with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. She then attended San Francisco State University, where she received a master’s certificate in rehabilitation engineering and technology. Bolles joined NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as a flight systems safety engineer. After 1-1/2 years at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, M.d., as a safety engineer, Bolles transferred to NASA Ames in 1999.


“We don’t always have control over what happens in our lives, but we do have control over how we deal with it,” said Bolles. “I could have easily decided to do nothing with my life and in general, society would have excused it. But why spend my life being miserable when there’s a whole world of opportunities to have a wonderful life?”


Bolles said she is lucky to have a loving family and supportive friends. She spends her scarce free time with friends and contributing to the community. Two years ago, Bolles completed a 60-mile, 3-day walk to raise funds to fight breast cancer, to honor her mother. She also helped produce an educational CD-ROM for children with disabilities in which she talks about her work, proving that determination can overcome the challenges of being disabled.


“I don’t think of myself as a missionary,” said Bolles. “I am just a person doing what I do But if knowing what I do helps someone out of a rough time in their life, that’s great. I’ll always be willing to help someone out.”





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