Thomas W. Dreschel, Ph.D
NASA Fundamental Biology Outreach Director
Do you work for NASA or are you a contractor?
If you are a contractor, what is the name of your contracting company?
The Dynamac Corporation. What is your area of expertise? Environmental Chemistry, Controlled Environment Horticulture, Science Education.
What is your education and training? (Degrees held, in what subjects, from what institutions?)
B.S., Biological Sciences, University of Illinois M.A., Zoology, Southern Illinois University Ed.S., Science Education (Environmental Science), Florida Institute of Technology Ph.D., Science Education (Environmental Science), Florida Institute of Technology *
Describe your career path? (What positions have you held, where and for how long)
1. Food Chemist: 1975-1976
2. Coal and Petroleum Chemist: 1976-1978
3. Teaching Assistant and Graduate Student: 1978-1980
4. Limnologist and Environmental Chemist: 1980-1983
5. Environmental Chemist/Biologist: 1983-1995
6. Science Education Coordinator: 1995-1999
7. Fundamental Biology Outreach Program Director: 2000
What do you do? (What kinds of activities make up your work?)
Coordinate education and outreach programs in Fundamental Biology for NASA, conduct research in hydroponics for the NASA Advanced Life Support and Ecology Programs, and coordinate acid rain monitoring at Kennedy Space Center.
What kinds of skills are important to have for this position?
It is important to have a broad background in science, math, and education. Computer literacy and writing ability are also critical.
Do you do anything that is related to Astrobiology?
If so, please describe how your work is related to astrobiology. Environmental chemistry and Advanced Life Support are aspects that relate to the aspect of Astrobiology that examines the future of mankind.
How did you first become interested in this profession?
I became interested in biology as a profession in high school, from my advanced biology instructor.
What helped prepare you for this job?
My education and prior job experience.
What do you like about your job?
My work is quite varied and continues to be very interesting. In addition, I teach a college-level biology course part-time which I enjoy immensely. I enjoy being able to work outdoors, in the laboratory, and to interact with fellow scientists and educators. I have been fortunate to do quite a bit of traveling in my job which I enjoy as well, to make friends in foreign lands.
What don't you like about your job?
What is your advice to anyone interested in this occupation?
Obtain a broad-based education and be willing to take on tasks that others may shy away from. Keep an open mind about what you are able and would like to do.
What are your interests outside of work?
I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, watching old movie, and listening to 60's music. I also enjoy teaching.
What is your favorite scientific fact or words of advice?
My three favorite sayings are:
"Imagination is more important than knowledge." Albert Einstein
"If a man advances confidently in the direction of his dreams and endeavors to life a life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unseen in common hours." Henry David Thoreau
"Enthusiasm is one of the most powerful engines of success, when you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm." Ralph Waldo Emerson
More Information on Dr. Dreschel
After completing his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Illinois and an M.A. in Zoology from Southern Illinois University, Dr. Dreschel moved to Florida, where he worked on Marco Island as an environmental chemist/biologist. He began work at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in 1983 as an analytical environmental chemist/biologist involved in the early evaluation of the environmental effects of Space Shuttle launches and rain chemistry monitoring at KSC. Tom began working with the Advanced Life Support Breadboard Project in 1984, was part of the team that made the Biomass Production Chamber operational, and developed a hydroponic system for use in microgravity. Tom helped to set up the Gravitational Biology laboratory at KSC and has been involved in flight experiment development and support. In 1993, he became the Science Education Coordinator for the life sciences research at KSC. In 1995 he received an Ed.S. in Science Education and in 1996 completed his Ph.D. in Science Education, both from the Florida Institute of Technology. In his spare time, Tom enjoys spending time with his family including attending his children's soccer games. They have a dog (black lab mix), two cats (one black, one tiger striped), and two Japanese fire-belly newts (cousins of astro-newts from the International Microgravity Laboratory II mission). Tom also likes to read science fiction, surf the web, watch old movies, sing in the church choir, and fish. He regards his job at KSC as one of the many challenging and enjoyable activities that he pursues.