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Division of Space Life Sciences
USRA—Houston, Texas
Spring Issue 2013
From the Director
Greetings. We are in the process of exiting another arduous winter in Houston. As we greet the spring, I must remind you of the upcoming performance evaluations. Stand
by for instructions from Carmella. We will do these evaluations first, and then in the summer, will set the performance plans for the new fiscal year.
Also, the changes being invoked by implementation of
the “sequestration” presently are quite fluid. I will inform
you when we (USRA) believe they have achieved a steady
state. Applying the rules has many vagaries when considering civil servants, contractors, cooperative agreements,
and grants. When the dust settles, we will have official
policy to proceed. In the meantime, maintain excellence
in your work and we should come out of this in good
Finally, our first meeting with Wyle (Science Forum)
went well. I urge you to make time for the next one to be
held later this quarter.
Safe travels for all of you taking vacation this spring and
Recent Employee Service Award recipients:
Zarana Patel Shavers,
Jeff Ryder, and MyungHee Y. Kim
Inside this issue
 Honors, Awards, and Collaborations
 NASA ISS FIT iPad App Challenge Launched
 USRA Houston Holiday Party
 2013 HRP Meeting Report
 On a Personal Note
 Terrestrial Wellness
Release of New
NSCR 2012
The NASA Johnson Space Center Space Radiation Program Element (JSC-SRPE) has developed the new
NASA Space Cancer Risk (NSCR) 2012 V1.0 Web
Server and it was released in December 2012. This new
tool evaluates the cancer risks of astronauts from exposure to solar particle events (SPE) and galactic cosmic
rays (GCR), and the level of uncertainty for each of the
factors, (parameters) used in the model. The main applications envisioned are International Space Station (ISS)
missions and planning for future exploration missions to
the moon, near earth objects (NEO), or Mars.
In addition, an important ground-based capability developed by NSCR is the evaluation of cancer risks from
medical diagnostic exposures, including x-rays and CT
The NSCR 2012 online application software has been
nominated for the 2013 JSC Exceptional Software
Award Competition.
The team members are Dr. Francis A. Cucinotta
(NASA JSC), Dr. Myung-Hee Y. Kim, Ms. Lori J.
Chappell, Dr. Patrick M. O’Neill (NASA JSC), Dr.
Shaowen Hu, Dr. Ianik Plante, and Dr. Hatem N.
Upcoming Event!
Wednesday, April 17th
DSLS All Hands Meeting
10:00 a.m. in the USRA Lecture Hall
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Honors, Awards, and Collaborations
Challenge Launched!
The NASA ISS FIT (Food Intake
Tracking) iPad Challenge App,
sponsored by Scott Smith and Sara
Zwart of JSC’s Nutritional Biochemistry Laboratory, officially launched on Sunday, February 10. This app challenge is to design, develop and produce an iPad application that will allow ISS crewmembers
to easily enter and track their food intake. The challenge
has been posted to Challenge.gov.
Additional links the team provided for this great challenge are:
TopCoder ISS Microsite: http://www.topcoder.com/
iss/. TopCoder created an ISS Microsite where all our
ISS related challenges reside together for great branding.
Dr. Don Pettit interview: http://youtube.bmWQRFVSf8. In the interview, Astronaut Dr. Don Pettit gives his
unique perspective as a flown ISS crewmember on what
would be useful to save crewmembers time and make the
app easy to use. Don is excited about the entire project,
shared interesting stories, and said that he wants a copy of
the app for his personal use when it is developed.
CoECI: http://www.nasa.gov/offices/COECI/.
Ianik Plante and
Francis Cucinotta
received the JSC
Exceptional Software Award from
former Center
Director Mike
Coats and ESA
committee chair
Lynn Vernon on
September 27,
Virginia Wotring was invited to
chair the Environmental Medicine
Session at the SPIE Sensing Technologies Conference in Baltimore in
April 2013. She was also asked to
present a talk entitled, “Monitoring
Astronaut Health in Space.”
Ajit Mulavara was part of a team that
developed inflight software that has
been certified by NASA review boards
and delivered to ISSMP for implementation on the ISS for the flight study:
“Spaceflight Effects on Neurocognitive
Performance: Extent, Longevity and
Neural Bases (Neuromapping).
Yared Kidane has been selected to
participate in the prestigious 2013
NASA Space Radiation Summer
School to be held at the Brookhaven
National Laboratory (BNL) on Long
Island, New York from June 3 – June
21, 2013. A total of 18 graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and researchers with wide-ranging interests
and experience levels were selected
from various laboratories in the U.S.
and abroad.
Lori Ploutz-Snyder has accepted the
role of chair to a NASA decadal review working group related to sex differences in the musculoskeletal system
with spaceflight. She is also working
with the robotics group in engineering
for the development of an exoskeleton
force dynamometer for possible ISS
flight demo.
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Support Courted
Neal Pellis was an invited attendee on
February 20, 2013 to the Bay Area
Houston Economic Partnership meeting by the Aerospace Advisory Committee (AAC). Bob Mitchell is the
current AAC chair and serves as president of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership. Guests were newly
elected Congressmen Steve Stockman
(TX 36) and Randy Weber (TX 14).
Both of these congressmen have a
number of constituents who work in
the Aerospace industry. The AAC's
mission is to promote continuing support and commitment to the space
program and space operation functions being implemented by NASA
Johnson Space Center. The AAC recommends and implements initiatives
to support the interests of NASA JSC
and the local aerospace community.
Ronita Cromwell traveled to CNES
in Toulouse, France in January to discuss NASA collaboration in the ESA
Sarcolab study. The meeting included
representatives from ESA, IBMP and
NASA. Ronita also visited the Medes
bed rest facility in Toulouse, France
while there. Upon her return, she debriefed HHC Element personnel on
the ESA Sarcolab meeting.
Hatem Nounu Served on the Industry Advisory Board (IAB) for the
Department of Computer Science
and Computer Information Systems
at the University of Houston-Clear
Lake and attended a board meeting
on March 7, 2013.
Christian Westby participated in
“College and Career Night” at Clifton Middle School in Houston in
Bill Todd recently held meetings with
Florida International University on
Aquarius habitat operations. He also
traveled to Monterey, CA to the US
Navy Post Graduate School to work
on developing potential partnerships in
autonomous vehicles. These would
include ROV’s, AUV’s and UAVs.
Budget meetings were held with
NASA AES Analog management as
well. Bill attended Multi-Mission
Space Exploration Vehicle (MMSEV)
design and development meetings and
met with MMSEV software engineers
to develop schematics for subsystems. This is the first step in preparation for possible MMSEV simulations to be held later this year.
Bill also presented a brief to Embry
Riddle Aeronautical University on
potential mission collaboration and
has met with officers of Space Adventures to discuss potential NEEMO
mission collaboration.
Myung-Hee Y. Kim is working closely with Dr. Pat O’Neill at the electronic Design and Manufacturing Branch
at JSC to document the recent revision
of the Galactic Cosmic Ray (GCR)
model (Badhway-O’Neill 2011). This
is the JSC internal document that is
referenced by the new NASA Space
Cancer Risk Web server software
(NSCR v1.0) developed by the Space
Radiation Program Element.
At the recommendation of the Director of the Interagency Modeling and
Analysis Group (IMAG), Lealem
Mulugeta was officially appointed
as the first chair and founder of the
Committee on Credible Practice of
Modeling & Simulation in Healthcare. The committee was established
under the IMAG and the Multiscale
Modeling (MSM) Consortium to
lead the establishment of acceptable
practice guidelines, as well as identifying new areas of research, for development and implementation of
credible computational models and
simulations for health-care research
and intervention. This is being done
with the prospect of eventually transitioning the models and simulations
to augment the work of healthcare
practitioners for developing and administering treatments. The IMAG
and MSM are two high profile initiatives established by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in collaboration with other government agencies
to advance the state of knowledge in
computational medicine.
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USRA Holiday Party
USRA Headquarters gifted the Houston site with a generous sum for a 2012 holiday party to be held in December.
A committee was formed to plan the event which included
finding a venue and choosing the food, music, table decorations, and door prizes.
The talented Byerly Trio provided great music throughout the evening. (The group performs at Perry’s Steakhouse Thursday—Saturday nights). Passed appetizers
were served prior to the buffet style meal. Floral arrangements at each table were given to employees as gifts to
take home. Door prizes included:
 Cordua gift card for fine dining at Americas Restaurant—$500
 Beats by Dr. Dre Studio Headphones—$300
 Samsung 43” Plasma 720p 600Hz HDTV—$500
 Apple IPad with Wi-F 16GB—$500
 $500 Hotel ZaZa Texas Triassic Tour Package—$525.
Dr. Pellis welcomed employees and guests.
USRA Houston Holiday Party Planning Committee
from left to right, Delia Enriquez, Sherri Burrow
(committee chair), Carmella Mongiardo, Gail Pacetti,
and Claudia Quintana.
Ianik wins a door prize!
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2013 NASA Human Research Program
(HRP) Investigators’ Workshop
The NASA Human Research Program (HRP) Investigators’
Workshop was held at the Moody Gardens Convention Center in Galveston, TX, February 12-14, 2013. Three USRA
scientists were members of the steering committee that organized the program and sessions for the workshop. The space
radiation sessions included the first ever joint session between the Space Radiation Element and Behavioral Health
and Performance Element that featured seven CNS space
radiation principal investigators and five BHP principal investigators.
USRA scientists authored/co-authored 45 abstracts for
the workshop. Of the 45 abstracts, 17 were oral presentations and 28 were exhibited as posters. Eight USRA
scientists chaired or co-chaired nine sessions and two
participated in the tour of the Flight Analogs Research
Unit (FARU) on the last day of the workshop at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston.
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On a Personal Note
Jessica Scott and Christian Otto celebrated the arrival of Ethan Scott Otto on October 13th, 2012. Christian Otto finished 7th overall in
his age group in the 2012 Xterra offroad triathlon series in the Southern
U.S., earning an invitation to the U.S.
National Championships at Snowbasin Resort, Utah. Competing against
over 300 qualifying athletes from
across the nation in open water swimming, mountain biking and x-country
running, Christian finished 31st in his
age group.
Zarana Patel Shavers and her husband Mark welcomed Kai Rohan Shavers on January 31st, 2012. Terrestrial
Smith L. Johnston, III, M.D., Director, Aerospace and Occupational
Medicine Clinics, NASA Johnson
Space Center, presented “Space Medicine - Applications for Terrestrial
Wellness, Human Performance and
Longevity” at USRA Houston/UTMB
Aerospace Medical Grand Rounds on
February 26, 2013. The objectives of
the presentation were to: 1) Discuss
the role of genetics, environment, nutrition, fitness, and psychological well
being in wellness; 2) Explain how
Space Medicine pre-flight screening,
in-flight countermeasures, and post –
flight longitudinal occupational surveillance programs contribute to astronaut and cosmonaut health; 3) Apply these preventive and occupational
Space Medicine principles, programs,
and technologies to terrestrial health,
human performance, and longevity.
Smiling Faces Worldwide
Remembering the past...
Houston, Tranquility Base here, the
Eagle has landed.
- Neil Armstrong
Roger, Tranquility. We copy you on
the ground. You've got a bunch of
guys about to turn blue. We're
breathing again. Thanks a lot.
- Charlie Duke
That's one small step for a man;
one giant leap for mankind.
- Neil A. Armstrong
Roger, Tranquility. Be advised
there are lots of smiling faces in
this room and all over the world.
- Charlie Duke
Jessica Scott competed in the Santa
Hustle Galveston Half Marathon on
December 23, 2012. There were 639
finishers. Jessica finished 5th overall
female, 3rd in her age group. Wow!
Only two months after having a baby!
Go Jessica!
Minli Wang at a recent baby shower given by friends and co‐workers. Articles for the DSLS News may be
submitted anytime during the year.
Please consider submitting stories
and photos of activities outside the
workplace. Submissions for future
issues should be sent to Carmella
(mongiardo@dsls.usra.edu). All
newsletter content will be approved
by the Director.