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Liljencrantz Award: Rebecca Blue

July 01, 2022

Liljencrantz Award: Rebecca Blue

The Eric Liljencrantz award was established in memory of CDR Eric Liljencrantz, MC, USN, whose brilliant career in aviation medicine was cut short by his death in an airplane accident in 1942. It is given annually to honor excellence as an educator in aerospace medicine, or basic research into the problems of acceleration, altitude, or weightlessness. Sponsored by Aerospace Medical PLC.

A young white woman with dark brown hair in a black shirt wearing a necklace with a small pendant poses against a medium grey background.Rebecca Blue, M.D., M.P.H., was the 2022 winner of the Eric Liljencrantz Award for her exceptional contributions to the field of aerospace medicine in the areas of linear acceleration exposure on laypersons in the setting of medical comorbidities and psychological risk stratification for potential commercial spaceflight participants. Her efforts have expanded the envelope of previously accepted physiological tolerances and made commercial spaceflight a potential reality to those who traditionally would have been disqualified. She has worked extensively to expand knowledge of the risks of commercial spaceflight, seeking to understand how risks are altered by the inclusion of laypersons. Her study design and investigative work include leading three unique studies over 10 years regarding layperson tolerance to hypergravity exposure. This work has led to a number of highly influential publications providing critical insight into the response of chronic medical conditions to the stresses of launch and re-entry phases of suborbital flight.
   Dr. Blue earned a B.S. in Biology at Truman State University in 2003, a Higher Diploma of Social Policy from the University College of Dublin in 2006, and her M.D. at the Georgetown University School of Medicine in 2008. She served an Emergency Medicine Residency at Orlando health from 2008-2011 and then earned her M.P.H. at the University of Texas Medical Branch in 2012. She then served an Aerospace Medicine Residency there from 2011 to 2013. While she was serving the residency in Emergency Medicine, she also was a Research Collaborator at Kennedy Space Center’s Biomedical Research Laboratory from 2009-2011. She then became a Medical Consultant and Technical Writer at Noninvasive Medical Technologies from 2011-2013. In 2013, she took a position as a Flight Surgeon and then later an Aerospace Medicine Physician at Virgin Galactic, LLC, during which time she served as Ground Medical Lead, Team Physician for the Red Bull Stratos project. She left Virgin Galactic in 2016. In 2015, she took the position she holds today, Research Collaborator at The Mayo Clinic, Arizona, in the Department of Preventive, Occupational, and Aerospace Medicine’s Aerospace Medicine and Vestibular Research Laboratory.
   Dr. Blue’s honors and awards include the Fulbright Scholarship, Orlando health Graduate Medical Education Resident Research Award, the Aerospace Medical Association’s (AsMA’s) Life Sciences and Biomedical Engineering Branch’s (LSBEB’s) Ross McFarland Award, the Space Medicine Association’s (SMA’s) Young Investigator’s Award, AsMA’s Fellows Award, Julian E. Ward Memorial Award, and Arnold D. Tuttle Award, and NASA’s Agency Honor Award to the SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 Team. She is a Fellow of AsMA and serves on the Editorial Board of Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance. She is also an Associate Editor at Nature Microgravity and is Board certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine and the American Board of Preventive Medicine. She is lead or co-author of over 60 publications.