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Liz Warren -- NASA Scientist
Liz Warren sitting at a computer console

NASA scientist Liz Warren leads a team responsible for implementing NASA's Human Research Program science experiments on the space shuttle and the International Space Station. Image Credit: NASA

Name: Liz Warren, Ph.D.
Job Title: Operations Lead for the International Space Station Medical Project
Education: B.S. in neurobiology, physiology and behavior, University of California, Davis; Ph.D. in physiology, University of California, Davis
NASA Center: Johnson Space Center
Hometown: Tiburon, Calif.
Hobby: Running, reading, travel, outdoor activities and learning to play guitar.

Tell us about the project that you are working on now.

The International Space Station Medical Project is responsible for implementing NASA's Human Research Program science experiments on the space shuttle and International Space Station. My role as an Operations Lead includes working in mission control as the lead of a team that consists of engineers, planners, procedure writers and science support personnel to ensure successful science on-orbit.

Spaceflight causes a number of changes in astronauts' bodies: Their muscles get weaker; their bones lose strength; and their cardiovascular systems decondition. The science experiments we conduct investigate these changes so that we can develop countermeasures to mitigate the severity of these changes. The results of these experiments can help astronauts who live on the International Space Station ... and can also help future space explorers who may live in space for longer durations.

What attracted you to a career as a scientist?

I have always had an inquisitive nature, so there really was no question in my mind that I was going to be a scientist.

What do you consider to be the highlight of your career?

Picking one highlight is pretty tough, so I’ll answer generically: Achieving long-term goals is very satisfying.

What prepared you for your job?

Everything I have learned and accomplished throughout my education and career has prepared me for the current moment. In other words, life is a continual learning experience.

Are you involved in any student projects as a mentor or advisor? If so, please tell us about it.

I have been a mentor for several student groups in NASA's Reduced Gravity Program. This program provides a unique experience for students to propose, design, fabricate, fly and evaluate an experiment on a reduced-gravity aircraft. This program is very rewarding for the students, and it is very rewarding for me to watch the scientific process in work!

Were you a participant in any NASA opportunities as a student? If so, please tell us about it.

As a graduate student, I was supported by the Graduate Student Researchers Project. This fellowship program provided funding for my NASA-related research.

What advice would you give to students interested in a career as a scientist?

As a scientist, communication skills (written and oral) cannot be emphasized enough. One of the most overlooked but valuable skills to possess as a scientist is deductive reasoning. You don't learn to think through a problem in a traditional classroom; you learn to think only through practice. Lastly, I encourage students to seek breadth of experience through association with other fields. Make friends in the arts, in engineering, in business management, etc.

On the Web:
› ISS Medical Project   →
› Graduate Student Researchers Project
› NASA Reduced Gravity Program   →
› NASA Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities Program   →
› NASA Education   →

Heather R. Smith/NASA Educational Technology Services