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Johnson Human Health and Performance employees earn aerospace medical awards

June 27, 2018

On May 10, the Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA) recognized individuals from the Human Health and Performance (HH&P) Directorate at NASA’s Johnson Space Center for their contributions to medical research and work in the human spaceflight community. Recipients of each award all played a key role in advancing the art and science of aerospace medicine.

Those honored included:
  • Erik Antonsen, M.D., element scientist for exploration medical capabilities, was awarded the Joseph P. Kerwin Award.
  • John Charles, Ph.D., retired associate director of exploration research planning, received the Space Medicine Association (SMA) Sutton Scientific Achievement Award.
  • Rahul Suresh, M.D., aerospace medicine resident, was honored for the Julian E. Ward Memorial Award.
  • James Pavela and Rahul Suresh placed first and second respectively out of all the participating University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) residents in aerospace medicine who won the Ram Bowl
  • Mary McFather, currently serving as a multilateral and contingency support administrative assistant, was honored with the Society of NASA Flight Surgeons honorary NASA Flight Surgeon Award.
  • Jeff Chancellor, former senior research engineer at Lockheed Martin Space Operations, was given the Marie Marvingt Award.
  • Tarah Castleberry, D.O., former NASA flight surgeon, received the Eric Liljencrantz Award.
  • Ashot Sargysan, M.D., international medical liaison, was awarded the NASA Flight Surgeon Citation Award.
  • Mary VanBaalen, serving with lifetime surveillance for astronaut health, received the W. Randolph Lovelace II Award.
  • Jim Vanderploeg, M.D., former NASA flight surgeon, was given the SMA Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Mike Barratt, M.D., veteran astronaut handler of medical issues and on-orbit support in International Space Station operations, was honored with the SMA President’s Award.
  • Duane Pierson, Ph.D., senior microbiologist emeritus, received the Sidney D. Leverett Jr. Environmental Science Award.
  • Moriah Thompson, M.D., former Pathways intern who is currently a resident in aerospace medicine at UTMB in Galveston, was awarded the Jeffrey R. Davis Aerospace Medicine Endowed Scholarship.
  • Sean Roden, M.D., Sharmi Watkins, M.D., and Alex Garbino, M.D., medical officers and aerospace medicine residents, were all recognized as AsMA Fellows.
“Our Human Health and Performance team works diligently conducting research in human spaceflight-related medical fields to ensure our astronauts are safe,” said Catherine Koerner, director of HH&P. “I’m am very proud of all of our team members who were recognized and thank them for dedicating their careers to enhancing crew health and performance and mitigating the risks associated with human spaceflight.”
AsMA is the largest professional membership organization in the fields of aerospace medicine and human performance. The organization is a scientific forum that provides a setting for many different disciplines to come together and share their expertise for the benefit of all involved in air and space travel. AsMA's membership includes aerospace medicine specialists, flight nurses, physiologists, psychologists, human factors specialists, physician assistants and researchers.
For more information about HH&P, visit:
To learn more about the AsMA, visit:
 Human Health & Performance Directorate logo
Suzzy Kalu
NASA Johnson Space Center