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Meet Jessica Meir

photo of Jessica Meir

Experiment Support Scientist
Lockheed Martin Space Operations
Johnson Space Center

Who I Am and What I Do

I am a support scientist for the Human Research Facility at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). I coordinate and support human space life science experiments that are performed by the astronauts on space shuttle and International Space Station (ISS) missions. These experiments are mainly physiological studies (bone loss, muscle control/atrophy, lung function, etc.) to determine if any bodily processes are altered in the spaceflight environment.

I guide these experiments through the necessary review cycles, develop procedures that the astronauts will use on-orbit, train crewmembers, and provide ground support in the Mission Control Center while the astronauts are performing the experiments on the shuttle or ISS.

Education and Career Path

Although many of my friends remained in Maine to go to college, I attended Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. I majored in biology, and kept up with my interests in space as well. In the summer before my sophomore year at Brown, I had the opportunity to participate in the Space and Life Sciences Training Program (SLSTP) at Kennedy Space Center (KSC), in Florida. This was an amazing six week long program, spent attending lectures on various space-related science topics, going on tours of the KSC facilities and conducting my own research project.

I also spent one of my semesters as an undergraduate student in a study abroad program in Stockholm, Sweden. With my mother coming from Sweden, and my father from Israel, I was fortunate enough to travel quite a bit outside of the United States while I was growing up. This semester abroad, however, provided me with an excellent opportunity to actually live and study in a foreign country, as well as to explore my mother's home country.

During my senior year at Brown, a few other students and I decided to submit a proposal for NASA's Reduced Gravity Student Flight Opportunities program. This program gives undergraduates a chance to design an experiment, and if selected, fly their experiment on NASA's KC-135 aircraft. By flying in a parabolic flight pattern, 20-30 second periods of microgravity (weightlessness) are created within the aircraft. This allows for researchers to conduct experiments and operations in microgravity, without even being in space! Astronauts also use this aircraft for training. My Brown team's experiment was selected, and we had the opportunity to experience microgravity for the first time.

I highly encourage students around the nation to take advantage of the numerous educational outreach programs and opportunities that NASA has to offer. There is a wealth of knowledge, experience and fun to be gained from these programs.

After graduating from Brown University, I obtained a master of space studies degree from the International Space University in Strasbourg, France. This year long program offers a unique education, ranging across all disciplines, from law, to politics, life sciences, and engineering -- all from the space perspective. I spent the year learning about space from this interdisciplinary and international approach, with students from over 20 different countries, a genuinely remarkable experience in itself! I also had the opportunity to experience microgravity again that year, this time on CNES's (the French Space Agency) A-300 aircraft as an assistance researcher and subject in a study on echocardiography doppler.

I plan on pursuing an advanced degree in the near future, so my education is far from over. In the past years I have been wrestling with a decision between obtaining an MD or a PhD, but am currently leaning toward pursuing a PhD in a field related to evolutionary biology and/or life in extreme environments (astrobiology). I am also fascinated by marine biology (which suits the NEEMO mission well!), and hope to coordinate a specific topic of study to combine these main interests.

Growing Up

I grew up in Caribou, a small town in northern Maine (the most Northeastern city in the United States). I was constantly active in a diversity of activities while growing up . . . I played on basketball, softball, tennis, and soccer (my favorite sport!) teams, played the flute and piccolo in concert band and the saxophone in jazz band, and participated in a variety of school clubs and organizations. I also loved to read as a child. My favorite books when I was young were The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis), Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (Mildred D. Taylor), Where the Red Fern Grows (Wilson Rawls), and To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee).

After being interested in space since I was a small child, I was thrilled to attend Purdue University's space camp when I was thirteen. I was certain that this would be my first concrete step toward a future career in the space industry.


I currently live in Seabrook, Texas, just a few miles away from the Johnson Space Center. Living in Texas is quite a stretch from my life in the Northeast, but I decided that working at NASA would be worth the big move. I have kept extremely busy both on the job and outside of work since I have lived in Texas. I obtained my private pilot's license earlier this year, and also started skydiving. Whether I am flying a plane or jumping out of one, I enjoy my time in the sky immensely! As revealed in this mission, I am a fan of scuba diving as well. I also like to hike, ski, play soccer, softball and other sports, and study foreign languages. Studying foreign languages is fascinating and extremely rewarding for me, as it is the best way to appreciate and truly identify with another culture. I encourage students to immerse themselves in foreign languages at an early age . . . as it is much easier to learn when you start young.

I still love to read, and have lately been focusing on the classics. My recent favorites include Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, and Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. My love of travel has remained and I always look forward to planning my next trip to some exotic location.


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