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Meet: Emma Hwang

photo of emma on a hiking trip

Who she is
Yu-liang Hwang was born in southern Taiwan in 1970. After joining her family in the west coast of the U.S. at the age of 2, she was dubbed Emma. Most of her early education occurred in central and southeast Texas, and she graduated from Ball High School in Galveston. Growing up along the Texas gulf coast initiated her interest in the space program (though she was born a year and a day late for the first Apollo moon landing). From there, Emma started her journey across the U.S. for higher education and adventure.

Educational Background
Her first stop was Boston, Massachusetts, where she received her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering at Boston University. During her junior year, she took a year and a half cooperative study opportunity with Lockheed Missiles and Space in Houston. While in Boston, she first took interest in SCUBA diving, stemming from her fascination with Jacque Cousteau’s work. However, she did not pursue training at that time due to lack of resources and the mostly cold environment in Boston (since she is truly a warm weather creature). Then she moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan (Go Blue!). While in graduate school, she took a detour from her studies, and became a teacher in the martial arts of Aikido and Iaido. After several more years, she finally capped her higher education trek by earning her doctoral degree in biomedical engineering. In graduate school, she researched and developed new medical techniques using ultrasound.

Career Path
After considering a move out to the west to complete her circular journey around the U.S., she chose to return to the Texas gulf coast, where she would be closer to her sisters, brother, and new nephew. Her decision to return to Texas also involved the opportunity to work again in the space industry for Wyle Laboratories. Initially, she worked as a scientist in the sensors group, researching and developing oxygen, carbon dioxide, and pH sensing techniques for monitoring the health of cell cultures that would be grown on the space shuttle or station. Currently, she is a scientist with a group in the neurosciences laboratory, where they study the effects of space flight on balance control problems, that the astronauts experience upon return to earth, and develop possible countermeasures, that will help the astronauts to adapt more quickly to both the microgravity of space and the 1-g environment on earth.

In her spare time, Emma enjoys outdoor activities such as biking, tennis, hiking, softball, SCUBA diving (of course), etc. Since her return to Texas, Emma has immersed herself in diving activities (since it’s mostly warm here), and her dive training has taken her up to rescue diver so far. She enjoys diving lakes in Texas (since they are more convenient to get to), but nothing beats the sea life in the Caribbean. She recently led Wyle’s first cycling team in the MS150 bike tour from Houston to Austin; this event raises awareness and funds to find a cure for multiple sclerosis. To see photos and find out more go to http://homepage.mac.com/emhwang/Team_Wyle_MS150_2003/PhotoAlbum16.html. When cooped up indoors, Emma keeps busy with artistic pursuits and home improvement projects (anything to do with tools and gadgets).

Emma is looking forward to this opportunity to work with all the members of NEEMO 5, the astronauts, science investigators, surface support members, and the NURC folks. She will contribute her varied skills and knowledge to the ensure the success of the NEEMO 5 mission, as its outcome will play a part in furthering future exploration of space.


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