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Volume 68, Issue 151, Wednesday, June 25, 2003


Understanding our universe

By Bridget Brown
The Daily Cougar

On July 20, 1969 the world sat still, staring in awe at the first grainy footage from the moon. With the words, "Thatis one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," Americans fell in love with the exploration of the unknown and boys and girls dreamed of becoming astronauts.

Katy Forth, a third-year doctoral student of motor control, fulfills her internship at NSBRI with hopes of working as a space researcher.

Photo courtesy of NSBRI

Despite Februaryis Columbia space shuttle tragedy, the world still longs to continue space exploration programs, and equally needs the biochemical and biomedical advancements that come from experiments performed in space and by space life scientists at NASA. Now, two UH graduate students are on the fast track to becoming two of the countries top leaders in space exploration and biomedical research, thanks to a summer internship with the super-geniuses at NASAis Johnson Space Center and the National Space Biomedical Research Institution.

Andrew Abercromby, a first-year doctoral student of kinesiology, will fulfill his internship with NSBRI as he pursues his dream of becoming an astronaut.

Photo courtesy of NSBRI

"In the wake of the shuttle tragedy, it is great to see that more people are still interested in the space program," said Kathy Major, manager of communications at NSBRI. "The need for exploration is in all of us."

Andrew Abercromby, a first-year doctoral student of kinesiology, and Katy Forth, a third-year doctoral student of motor control were two of the 12 students hand-picked out of 20 applicants for the extensive program, which is offered to undergraduate, graduate and medical students across the country. The 10-12 week paid program, which was started to inspire the next generation of scientists, allows the students the opportunity to work side-by-side with science mentors while learning skills to prepare them for careers similar to the ones at NASA.

In just its fourth year as a program, NSBRI gives students the chance of a lifetime to get their feet in the door at NASA, as many interns are more likely to be hired after completing the program. This could reward Abercromby, who aspires to be an astronaut. Forth, however, plans to work behind the scenes as a space researcher. 

"The program gives the interns a chance to test the waters and work with scientists. Some work on data collection and some meet astronauts," Major said.

NSBRI funds research projects across the country, but Major said they try to place most of the interns at the Johnson Space Center.

"Abercromby and Forth are very lucky to live so close to the Space Center," Major said. "The bulk of the research is here, but we have 22 projects spaced out across the country." 

NSBRI is a union of several companies concerned with the health risks related to space flights of longer duration, such as muscle weakening, cardiovascular changes, sleep disturbances, balance, immunology and infection, radiation exposure, neurobehavioral and psychosocial issues, nutrition, fitness and rehabilitation. NSRBI is also developing remote medical technologies and new research methods.

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