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Karen Pickering portrait

Karen D. Pickering

Deputy Director, Human Research Program

Karen D. Pickering began her career at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston in 1991. She was an instructor in the Mission Operations Directorate for three years, gaining experience in flight operations, contingency operations, and situational awareness. She served as the systems shuttle mission simulator instructor for the crews of Space Transportation System (STS)-61 and STS-67. 

Following the launch of STS-67, Pickering moved to the Crew and Thermal Systems Division (CTSD) in JSC’s Engineering Directorate, where she became its subject matter expert in water recovery systems. She led the Advanced Water Recovery Systems Development Facility and Water Hardware Group.

Pickering transitioned to a leadership role within CTSD in 2013, becoming deputy branch chief of the Thermal Systems Branch. She then moved to the Human Health and Performance Directorate from 2017 to 2023, serving as chief of the Biomedical Projects Branch and as the associate chief of the Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences Division.

Pickering has served as deputy director of NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) since March 2023. She supports the strategic management of HRP, aligning science goals with NASA objectives. She also facilitates relationships with internal and external partners. Pickering earned a bachelor of science in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University as well as a master of science and a doctor of philosophy in Environmental Engineering from Rice University.

Human Research Program Leadership

Karen Pickering portrait

Deputy Director

Charles Lloyd portrait

Associate Director for Strategic Planning and Oversight

Steven Platts portrait

Chief Scientist


Acting Deputy Chief Scientist

Kristin Fabre portrait

Deputy Chief Scientist

Jancy C. McPhee portrait

Associate Chief Scientist

Nancy Fleming

Technical Assistant

Baraquiel Reyna portrait

Manager of the Science Integration Office

Carrol Mullenax portriat

Manager of the Program Planning and Control Office