Eglė Cekanavičiūtė – At NASA Between Space and People


What do you do, what is your work about? 

I am a scientist, with a PhD in Neuroscience, and since about a year ago I have become a space biologist and started working as a contractor for USRA (Universities Space Research Association) at NASA Ames Research Center. In short, I am investigating how space radiation affects the human body. Space radiation is one of the main heath hazards that astronauts will face on their upcoming missions to the Moon and to Mars, so I am studying what determines sensitivity/resistance to it, what kind of damage it can cause to the body, especially to  the immune system and the brain, and how this damage can be mitigated.

What is the trending topics in space research? 

I am specifically interested in space biosciences, i.e. in protecting astronaut health. Here’s a good list of all the most important topics: NASA Human Research Roadmap

You may notice a lot of risks related to gravity changes: from high-g during launch and landing to near zero-g in flight; and to exposure to space radiation.

How do you think global Lithuanians around the world could contribute to Lithuania’s growth? 

That is a great question! Some ideas that come to mind: direct support and mentoring of Lithuanian students and young professionals, joint business or academic ventures, becoming well-respected in their fields and making Lithuania more recognizable by association.