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IL: NASA Internship Allows MWU Student to Study Astronaut Health

August 19, 2010

by Jill Blair-Smith

Rachel Logan (right) is determining proper placement of electromyography (EMG) electrodes at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.

Midwestern University (MWU) student Rachel Logan spent the summer working with scientists at NASA. Logan was one of 19 students from across the United States selected to participate in an internship program sponsored by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI).

During the internship, Ms. Logan worked in the Exercise Physiology Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston assisting scientists on two projects designed to help protect astronaut health. The first was a ground-based study of an exercise device used by astronauts in space. The second project involved developing software that will summarize astronaut medical data collected during exercise on the International Space Station.

Ms. Logan recently received a master's degree in biomedical science from MWU and is enrolled in the University's doctoral program in osteopathic medicine this fall. "At Midwestern, I was afforded the opportunity to conduct research and complete a thesis," she said. "This summer, as a member of the Exercise Physiology and Countermeasures Project, one of my major responsibilities was to participate in an ongoing ground study. Having gone through the training in school, I was familiar with the confidentiality and respect expected when working with human subjects and I was immediately comfortable working in the environment, during data collections, and throughout study."

According to Ms. Logan, the internship in the human spaceflight program has benefits that go beyond just boosting her resume. "My experience has taught me to think outside the box and analyze a situation from every angle," she said. "You have to anticipate every question, think of every potential issue and have a method for dealing with every possible outcome. As a general rule, there is no room for error in space. This level of critical thinking will be beneficial in every aspect of my life, not just in my professional career."

NSBRI's Summer Internship Program gives selected students an opportunity to spend 10-to-15 weeks working on projects with scientists at JSC, NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland or NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. More than 130 students have participated in this highly competitive program since it began in 1998.

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For more information, please contact:
Jill Blair-Smith