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In Memoriam - Laurence Young

August 29, 2021

In Memoriam - Laurence Young

AsMA Headquarters staff were saddened to hear of the death of Laurence R. Young, Professor Emeritus of Astronautics, Professor of health sciences and technology at MIT, and Emeritus Member of the Aerospace Medical
Association.

A native of New York City, Dr. Young received a B.A. from Amherst College in 1957. He then earned a certificate in applied mathematics from the Sorbonne, Paris, France, as a French Government Fellow. In 1962, he was awarded B.S. and M.S. degrees in electrical engineering and an Sc.D. in instrumentation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technol ogy (MIT). Following his graduation, he joined the faculty at MIT in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He co-founded the Man-Vehicle Laboratory, which is now known as the Human-Systems Laboratory, where he conducted research on the visual and vestibular systems, visual-vestibular interaction, flight simulation, space motion sickness, and manual control and displays.
   In addition to working with MIT, Dr. Young also consulted with NASA’s Marshall Spaceflight Center on the Apollo  project. He later became a qualified payload specialist for the U.S. Space Shuttle’s Spacelab in 1993. He also served as backup crew on STS-58, though he never flew in space, and was a principal or co-investigator on experiments during seven shuttle missions. During his career, he held visiting professor positions at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, the Zurich Kantonsspital, the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers in Paris, the College de France in Paris, the Universite de Provence in Marseille, and Stanford University. He was the founder of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute, where he served as Director from 1997–2001. Later he served as Director of the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium and launched the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology doctoral program in bioastronautics.
   When he retired in 2013, Dr. Young remained active at MIT in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where he was a senior advisor and served on the department’s 2020 strategic plan committee. He mentored many students, some of whom became colleagues. With one of them, Prof. David Mindell, he developed the popular Engi neering Apollo course. Another of Dr. Young’s mentees was Charlie Duke, a NASA astronaut who walked on the Moon. He will be remembered for his widespread impacts as a teacher.
   Dr. Young served on numerous committees and chaired NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts External Council. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, as well as being a member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He held fellowships with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. He was recognized by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics with the Jeffries Award in 1992 and the de Florez Award for Flight Simulation in 2018, by NASA with the Space Act Award in 1995, by the National Space Biomedical Research Institute with the Pioneer Award in 2013, and by the Life Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Branch of the Aerospace Medical Association with the Professional Excellence Award for Lifetime Contributions in 2018. He received the Koetser Foundation Prize in Zurich in 1998.
   An online obituary can be found at https://news.mit.edu/2021/laurence-young-professor-emeritus-astronautics-dies-0823.