Keith E. Henderson
Advanced Life Support Scientist
What is your area of expertise?
What is your education and training? (Degrees held, in what subjects, from what institutions?)
BS and MS in Agronomy from Colorado State University Ph-D in Crop Physiology from University of Arizona
Describe your career path? (What positions have you held, where and for how long)
1964-69 Associate Agronomist with University of Arizona
69-71 Seed Technologist with Great Western Sugar Co. in Colorado
71-76 Agricultural Program Specialist with Ford Foundation in Beirut, Lebanon and Riyadh Saudi Arabia
76-Present National Aeronautics and Space Administration Agricultural Remote Sensing for crop yields and acreage Medical Science Payload Integration University Grant Program in New Initiatives Office From 1994 until present - Advanced Life Support Project
What do you do? (What kinds of activities make up your work?)
My major responsibility is to conduct plant growth tests and experiments leading to technical development of a plant growth system or systems that could eventually be used in closed environment conditions on a planetary surface. Includes studies on crop varieties, lighting systems, cultural systems such as hydroponic or zeopnic, nutrient delivery systems and other critical needs Other duties include contributions to the Education and Outreach to the public, schools, and other employees. Provide assistance to the NASA organization on such programs as Small Business Research, Safety, and Quality Assurance
What kinds of skills are important to have for this position?
IGood knowledge in the fields of biology (plant growth), chemistry, and mathematics. Other important skills are computer expertise, and basic knowledge in electrical and mechanical systems. Of course all these rather technical fields must be accompanied by the ability to read, write, and solve problems
How did you first become interested in this profession?
I was always interested in agriculture. I was born and raised on a farm. I studied agriculture in college and had dealings with agriculture when I was in the U.S. Army. I worked on agriculture problems in the Middle East and while at NASA.
What helped prepare you for this job?
My education and prior job experience.
What do you like about your job?
Doing something special and different. Developing technology to grow plants on the moon or Mars is a unique experience.
What donŐt you like about your job?
Doing paperwork. Budgets, status reports, justification of work to management and directors
What is your advice to anyone interested in this occupation?
It is an important occupation. Growing plants for food will never go out of style or be replaced by machinery. You can be practical or experimental, basic or fundamental. You can go as deep into science in the field of biology or horticulture as one can in study of the atom.
What are your interests outside of work?
Woodworking, furniture refinishing, gardening, astronomy.
What is your favorite scientific fact or words of advice?
A seed is a living, breathing organism. A seed must die for a new plant to live. See the Bible John 12:24.