Episcopal Graduate Interns With Space Research Institute
Texas A&M student and Episcopal High School graduate Heather Scruggs is getting first-hand knowledge of the human spaceflight program this summer. Scruggs is one of 18 students selected to work with scientists at NASA through a National Space Biomedical Research Institute internship.
Scruggs, who is a biomedical engineering student at A&M, is assigned to the International Space Station Medical Project at NASA Johnson Space Center. She is involved with a project to build a complete mockup of the space station’s Muscle Atrophy Research and Exercise System, which is used to conduct research on the effect of microgravity on the human body. The mockup will be used to train the astronauts who will use the system on the space station.
Scruggs said the NSBRI internship has been educational on several fronts.
“This internship is broadening my horizons and introducing me to a whole new side of NASA that the public doesn’t always see,” she said. “For instance, the group I work with performs research on the space station so that exploration missions can be done with minimal damage to the body’s systems. All of their work is vital to astronauts, particularly those on the space station.”
Scruggs graduated from Episcopal High School in Bellaire in 2007 and is slated to receive her bachelor’s degree from A&M in 2012. She is the daughter of Richard and Cindi Scruggs of Houston.
NSBRI’s summer internship program gives selected students an opportunity to spend 10-to-15 weeks working on projects with scientists at JSC or NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. With the addition of this year’s class, more than 100 students have now participated in this highly competitive program.
“The summer internship program allows talented students such as Heather to learn about research for human spaceflight and how these efforts benefit health care on Earth,” said Jeffrey Sutton, NSBRI director.
NSBRI, funded by NASA, is a consortium of institutions studying the health risks related to long-duration spaceflight. The Institute’s science, technology and education projects take place at more than 60 institutions across the United States.
NSBRI projects address space health concerns, which include bone and muscle loss, cardiovascular changes, radiation exposure, neurobehavioral and psychosocial factors, remote medical care and research capabilities, and habitability and performance issues such as sleep cycles and lunar dust exposure. Research findings also impact the understanding and treatment of similar medical conditions experienced on Earth.