Kennedy Employee Leaves Lasting Legacy
Kennedy Space Center workers and industry partners worldwide relied on the late Guy Etheridge's creative problem-solving, ability to turn visions into reality, team-building skills and persistence. The Biology Division Research Integration Office manager's contributions to the nation's space program will continue as the cutting-edge projects he led evolve and produce results.
Before losing his life due to an alleged drunk driver on Aug. 12, Etheridge helped develop the NASA application of a green fluorescent protein imager tool that can be controlled remotely to collect digital images and transmit those images in real time. University of Florida researchers Dr. Robert J. Ferl and Dr. Anna-Lisa Paul took the equipment to the Haughton-Mars Project Research Station on Canada's arctic Devon Island as part of a research team from the Canadian Space Agency.
"The tool can non-invasively study a plant's reaction to environmental stress, which, for example, might be used to manage irrigation in water-restricted areas," said Etheridge's colleague Ray Wheeler, who described Etheridge as personable and someone who made everybody feel relaxed.
Image left: Etheridge speaks to high school students at his alma mater, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. Image credit: NASA
Paul said: "The concept is that if you can communicate like this between Florida and the high arctic, you can do so to the space station, or a lander on the moon or Mars. The ultimate goal of the imager is to be included in space flight hardware that can collect data on plant responses to extreme environments. Guy was hopeful that this combination of biological engineering and hardware engineering may be laying the foundations for taking reporter-gene biology to other planetary surfaces."
"We can design payloads and we have vehicle knowledge, a combination of skills found only at Kennedy. Guy embodied that spirit, as well as the Midwestern work ethic," said colleague Daniel Shultz.
According to Etheridge's supervisor Charlie Quincy, he was a champion of good ideas that required nurturing to proceed. "Behind the scenes, Guy was instrumental in many ways, including planning the Space Life Sciences Lab, gaining recognition for research at Kennedy, and securing funding and authorization for researchers to do what's important. He understood why scientific questions were important. Guy enabled players to be successful," he said.
Doug Gruendel, Etheridge's friend and co-worker, said he contributed to the conceptualization, design and development of several payloads, most recently STS-121's POEMS, which remains on the International Space Station.
"Guy was honest, hardworking, loyal, a true friend and dedicated husband and father. Professionally, what impressed me was his complete dedication and creative approach to performing his work, as well as the compassion he exhibited toward others," said Gruendel. "The fact that more than 600 people attended his funeral speaks for itself about his admirable qualities."
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Jennifer Wolfinger, Staff Writer
NASA's John F. Kennedy Space Center