Realizations and Exclamations from a (former) Star Trek Know Nothing

Earlier this week, I had no idea that my newest female role model would be an intergalactic captain that won’t be born until 2336.

Several tribute videos later, here we are.

Captain Kathryn Janeway is certifiably cool.

Captain Kathryn Janeway was/will be born on May 20, 2336, right here in Bloomington, Indiana, North America, Earth. She’s a vice admiral in the Starfleet Command and captain of the USS Voyager, “one of the fastest and most powerful ships in Starfleet.” Janeway is revered by the fleet as one of their best. Throughout the course of her command of the Voyager, she leads her crew through challenging obstacles such as the previously unexplored Delta Quadrant, the Borg, and the Krenim. She also really likes coffee, black.

If you’re a little lost, let me help you out. As someone whose only experience with Star Trek up until today was the “live long and prosper” hand signals—which I’ve now learned is called the Vulcan salute— and some vague references to Spock, I can definitely say that it’s a little overwhelming to jump headfirst into the universe. When I say I knew nothing about Star Trek, I really mean it. A seemingly endless stream of questions such as “Who are Vulcans? What is a holodeck? There’s how many series?” plagued my mind, and I searched the countless pages of Star Trek lore to find the answers.

Astronaut Terry Virts does the Vulcan salute from the International Space Station. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

To give a quick rundown, Kathryn Janeway is a character in the fifth series of the Star Trek franchise, Star Trek: Voyager. The series aired from 1995 to 2001, with seven seasons and 172 episodes. Captain Janeway is played by an actress named Kate Mulgrew, who was the first woman to be cast as a captain in the franchise. Also, the Vulcans are “a humanoid race, with copper-based blood, slightly green-tinted complexion and notably pointed ears,” a holodeck is a holographic environment simulator, and there are seven full television series (and nearly 800 episodes!) and thirteen films in the franchise. 

Actress Kate Mulgrew, 2007. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

I’ve done this research on the life of Captain Janeway because she’s getting a pretty stellar statue right next to WonderLab on the B-Line Trail. The Captain Janeway Bloomington Collective, a local organization that honors Janeway, raised $30,000 to build the monument of the Star Trek captain. The bronze bust of Janeway sits on a limestone base in the shape of the Starfleet insignia, with a stainless steel-plated plaque commemorating her life.

Captain Janeway is a scientist, so I think it’s pretty fitting that she’ll be immortalized outside of WonderLab. She values learning about the countless different life forms of the universe, and certainly has the chance to observe many during her career in Starfleet. At her first position on the USS Al-Batani, she held the position of chief science officer. As Admiral Patterson, the former captain of the Voyager, says as he passes command to Janeway after quizzing her on various astronomic and chemistry facts, “You’re a scientist first.” Janeway’s intelligence and scientific talent is part of the reason why she became such a respected captain of the Voyager.

Starfleet insignia. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

WonderLab is hosting a night of virtual Star Trek science on Saturday, October 24 from 7 p.m.- 9 p.m. during the Science of Star Trek- Virtual After Dark. This event is in celebration of the official unveiling of the Captain Janeway monument held by the Janeway Collective. Cosplay is encouraged, so pull out your Starfleet gear and prepare to try your best to make the iconic captain of the USS Voyager proud. In the meantime, I’m going to take a crack at Counterpoint (Season 5, Episode 10), just because it’s Kate Mulgrew’s favorite episode.


About the Author: Sophia Holt-Wilson is a senior at Indiana University in the Media School with a specialization in advertising management. She is the Public Relations Intern at WonderLab for the 2020-2021 academic year. She’s totally new to the Star Trek universe, but she thinks she would definitely be friends with Captain Janeway because they are both stubborn and appreciate coffee.