In 1925, when astronomer Nancy Grace Roman was born, "The Great Gatsby" had just been published, the Scopes Monkey Trial was about to begin, and outer space was still a giant mystery waiting to be explored.
But Roman, who turned 92 on Tuesday, showed an interest in the stars from an early age, and became the first chief of astronomy in the Office of Space Science at NASA headquarters and the first woman to hold an executive position at NASA.
"Throughout her career, Dr. Roman has been a spokesperson and advocate of women in the sciences," NASA notes on its site.
Roman is one of the five women honored with her own Lego figurine in the forthcoming Women of NASA set, approved by Lego in February. The other four are Katherine Johnson, one of the scientists featured in the film "Hidden Figures," computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, astronaut Sally Ride and astronaut Mae Jemison. (Release date and price have not yet been revealed for the figures.)
"My career was quite unusual so my main advice to someone interested in a career similar to my own is to remain open to change and new opportunities," Roman says in an interview on NASA's website. "I like to tell students that the jobs I took after my Ph.D. were not in existence only a few years before. New opportunities can open up for you in this ever changing field."