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Katherine Pulaski

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Katherine Pulaski
Caption: Dr. Katherine Pulaski in 2365
Gender: Female
Species: Human
Marital status: Divorced three times, former relationship with Kyle Riker
Actress: Diana Muldaur

Doctor Katherine Pulaski was chief medical officer aboard the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D in 2365 while Dr. Beverly Crusher was serving as head of Starfleet Medical.

Service record

Early career

Pulaski was part of the rescue team which treated survivors of a Tholian attack on a Federation starbase in 2353. There was only one survivor, Kyle Riker, and it was at this time the two met. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")

Dr. Pulaski had a transporter phobia, and used shuttlecraft whenever possible. (TNG: "The Child," "Unnatural Selection," "Shades of Gray")

Prior to her posting to the Enterprise, Pulaski served as chief medical officer on the USS Repulse (TNG: "The Child") under the command of Captain Taggert. She never used the transporter while posted to that vessel. Taggert was fond of Pulaski, and said he would have given her a personal shuttlecraft if she would have stayed aboard the Repulse. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection")

USS Enterprise-D

By 2365, when she transferred to the Enterprise, Pulaski carried the rank of commander. Unlike Dr. Crusher, however, she was not considered a bridge officer. (TNG: "Where Silence Has Lease")

Pulaski joined Commander Data and Lieutenant La Forge on a holodeck simulation of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. La Forge had unwittingly given the simulated Professor James Moriarty, Holmes's archnemesis, sentience by giving the computer the directive to create an adversary which could defeat Data, not Holmes. Moriarty took control of the program and abducted Pulaski. She was held captive but unharmed until Captain Picard was able to convince Moriarty to release control of the holodeck. (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data")

The Enterprise was sent to investigate the disappearance of the USS Lantree and discovered that the entire crew had died as a result of premature aging. The Enterprise backtracked the Lantree's course and ended up at the Darwin Genetic Research Station on Gagarin IV. The scientists on the station, led by Dr. Sara Kingsley, were attempting to genetically engineer several children and accidentally caused their antibodies to become overzealous. The antibodies were designed to seek and destroy harmful organisms before they entered the bodies of the children. The Lantree first officer had been treated for the Thelusian flu prior to visiting Darwin Station, which triggered the immune systems of the children. The antibodies mutated and became airborne, attacking the Lantree crew as well as the scientists on the station. Dr. Kingsley was adamant that the children were not the source of the disease, and pleaded with Dr. Pulaski to examine one of the children to rule out the possibility. Pulaski eventually convinced Captain Picard to let her beam one of the youths, encased in styrolite, aboard for examination. She was not content with scans of the child in stasis, and later had Commander Data take her and the teenager onto a shuttlecraft for revival in order to avoid risk to the Enterprise. Unfortunately, the children were indeed the source of the disease, and Pulaski was infected once the youth was removed from the styrolite. She and Data returned to the surface of Gagarin IV, where she worked to find a cure. Fortunately, she devised a cure with the help of Data, La Forge, and Chief O'Brien involving the transporter. Her DNA from before she was infected was obtained from a strand of hair, and it was used to instruct the biofilter on what elements were part of her normal genetic structure. The procedure was perilous; if the disease could not be removed via transporter, Pulaski's pattern would have been dispersed in space to prevent contamination of the Enterprise crew. The procedure was ultimately successful, and used to treat the station staff. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection")

While visiting the Mariposan colony in 2365, Pulaski, along with Commander William Riker, was briefly abducted. The Mariposans took epithelial cells from both, intending to use them to preserve their colony which was being affected by replicative fading. Once she and Riker learned of this, they returned to the planet and destroyed the two clones. (TNG: "Up the Long Ladder")

Dr. Beverly Crusher decided to return to the Enterprise in 2366. Pulaski transferred off the ship sometime prior to Crusher's return. (TNG: "Evolution")

Medical research

Early in her career, Pulaski authored a groundbreaking research paper called "Linear Models of Viral Propagation." It was still the standard on the subject many years later. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection")

She also performed two successful operations involving the ocular implants. She offered the procedure to Lieutenant Geordi La Forge in 2365, although he turned down the opportunity. (TNG: "Loud as a Whisper")

Geordi, of course, had the surgery by the time of Star Trek: First Contact.

Dr. Pulaski pioneered a technique used to selectively wipe memory engrams from humanoid species. (TNG: "Pen Pals")

Pulaski believed that traditional and homeopathic remedies were just as valuable as technological ones, perhaps even moreso. When the Enterprise was affected by an Iconian software transmission, she instructed her staff to use splints and other primitive treatments while most of the ship's systems were down. (TNG: "Contagion") She also had her own blend of chicken soup, called PCS (Pulaski's chicken soup), which she prescribed to those with ailments such as the flu. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")

Personal interests

Klingon culture held a certain fascination for Pulaski. When Lieutenant Worf was diagnosed with the Klingon equivalent of measles, Pulaski vowed that she would tell no one in order to spare Worf's pride. In order to thank her, Worf had her partake in the Klingon tea ceremony. Pulaski had the presence of mind to give herself an antidote for a substance in the tea, lethal to humans. (TNG: "Up the Long Ladder")

She did not find all parts of Klingon culture particularly appealing, however. She was not very interested in sampling Klingon cuisine (TNG: "A Matter of Honor") and found the Second Rite of Ascension to be somewhat barbaric. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")

Pulaski was also an accomplished poker player, and joined the Enterprise crew for several poker games. (TNG: "The Measure of a Man")

Personal relationships

Romance

Pulaski entered a romantic relationship with Kyle Riker during his convalescence in 2353. She later recalled that she would have married him "in a cold minute," but quickly realized that his priorities were elsewhere and she would not have a stable place in his life. She did not hold this fact against him, though, and they remained amicable. Pulaski never mentioned this to Will Riker until Kyle came aboard the Enterprise in 2365 to brief him on his promotion to captain of the USS Aries, a position he later turned down.

After she and Kyle parted ways, Pulaski had been married and divorced three times. Like with Kyle, she remained good friends with all three men. (TNG: "The Icarus Factor")

Captain Picard

Pulaski and Jean-Luc Picard butted heads over a number of issues during her year aboard the ship. Picard was somewhat offended that her first destination upon boarding the ship was Ten Forward. (TNG: "The Child") Pulaski was also upset that the Enterprise was going to do nothing to help the dying civilization on Drema IV. (TNG: "Pen Pals")

He also argued with her over the surgery needed to replace his cardiac implant. Dr. Pulaski believed she could perform the surgery on the Enterprise, but Picard felt it would be inappropriate and a sign of weakness in front of the crew. She gave him the option of going to Starbase 515, which he did. He nearly died on the operating table from complications, but the Enterprise rushed to the starbase and Pulaski transported down to complete the surgery. Her expertise saved Picard's life. (TNG: "Samaritan Snare")

Despite these conflicts, Pulaski had a deep respect for the captain. She admired him for some time prior to her assignment to the Enterprise, and jumped at the chance to transfer when the position became available. Picard did not learn of this until he spoke with Captain Taggert while Pulaski was affected by the virus on Gagarin IV. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection")

Data

Because of her discomfort with technology, Pulaski was not very kind towards Lieutenant Commander Data when she first boarded the ship. She saw him as no more than a machine, pronouncing his name "DAT-a" rather than "DAY-ta," and did not understand that he had a preference. She was also confused when Counselor Troi decided to have Data with her during the delivery of her son, believing that the touch of a human hand was better than that of an artificial lifeform. (TNG: "The Child") She would also condescend towards Data and often spoke to him through other crewmembers. (TNG: "Where Silence Has Lease") She believed that Data's methodical way of looking at situations meant that he could never solve a traditional Sherlock Holmes mystery, which led to the creation of the program which brought about the sentient Professor Moriarty. (TNG: "Elementary, Dear Data")

Later during the year, however, she began to value Data and look upon him as an equal and as a sentient individual. The major turning point was during the crisis surrounding the Darwin Station children. Data stayed to support Pulaski for a long period of time after she had become infected, something for which she was very grateful. (TNG: "Unnatural Selection") Pulaski even challenged master Zakdorn strategist Sirna Kolrami to a game of Strategema, believing that Data could win. When Data was unsuccessful, he interpreted it as a possible weakness and relieved himself of duty. Dr. Pulaski talked to Data and made him realize that one letdown doesn't necessarily mean total failure, and encouraged him to return to duty. Data later forced Kolrami to a stalemate, much to Kolrami's chagrin. (TNG: "Peak Performance")

Miscellaneous

Pulaski first appeared in TNG: "The Child," the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation's second season. Her final appearance was in TNG: "Shades of Gray," and beyond a brief mention in TNG: "Who Watches the Watchers?," she was never heard from again, although she made several appearances in novels.
She was not present in the episodes "The Outrageous Okona" or "Q Who?."
Gene Roddenberry loosely patterned Pulaski after Dr. McCoy. They most notably share a phobia of the transporter.

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