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The SMA JM Young Investigators Award

July 28, 2022

The SMA JM Young Investigators Award

The Space Medicine Association (SMA) Jeff Myers (JM) Young Investigators Award (YIA) is a competition intended for those making their first major efforts into Aerospace Medicine Research.

To compete for this award, contestants must be making their first presentation of a scientific paper or poster at an AsMA meeting (excluding cases presented at Grand Rounds as a student resident) as well as be competing for the award the first time; they must appear as first author on the paper; and the must prepare and submit a manuscript for judging. The potential applicability of the findings to space medicine and the degree of involvement of the student in the project are major considerations. I would like to thank the members of the YIA committee: John Darwood, Lloyd Tripp, Cathy Dibiase, and Steve Guyton.
   The finalists in this years’ competition, selected from 164 potential contestants, are richly talented and diversified (listed later in this article). The winner of the 2022 SMA JM YIA is Anna Wojdecka. Her paper is entitled: “The Design for the Future of Health and Safety in Commercial Human Spaceflight: Towards the Human-Centered Exploration Medical Ecosystem Design Infrastructure”. This new avenue of work is part of the evolution in Human Factors into design of modules and habitats now becoming more important to us as we progress in the commercialization of space travel, eventually having participants living and working in space, on the surface of the Moon, and beyond. Ms. Wojdecka completed this work during her studies in the Space Systems Graduate program at the Florida Institute of Technology. Originally from Poland, she received a Bachelors in Human Factors and Interior Architectural Design in the United Kingdom. She hopes to someday apply her skills helping to design new modules and habitats in space.
   The first runner up is Victoria Tucci, BHSc. Her paper is titled “Development and Evaluation of an Evidence-Based Policy for Return to Flight Post-COVID-19 in the Royal Canadian Air Force”. This could be an important tool for any illness recovery and for all flight crew in air or space. Victoria is this years’ Anita Mantri Award winner and is considering medical school as her next step. The second runner up is CDR Cheryl (call sign ‘Clark’) Griswold from the U.S. Navy in San Diego doing work at the Naval Medical Research Unit in Dayton. Her paper is: “Effects of Voluntary Urine Retention on Cognitive Performance”. Honorable Mention went to Hugo Felix, M.D., an Infectious Disease Resident from Lisbon, Portugal, for his paper titled “Non-Invasive Intracranial Pressure Monitoring and its Applicability in Spaceflight”.
   Additional Finalists include: Mohammad Hirzallah, M.D., a Neurologist at Baylor University in Houston TX; Lynn Stanwyck, a medical student from Virginia Tech on an FAA Internship; Craig Kutz, M.D., Ph.D., an Emergency Medicine trained Hyperbaric Fellow at San Diego headed for UTMB and a former AMSRO president (and winner of the 2022 SMA Resident Award); Abigail (Abby) Santek, a certified Athletic Trainer working with the Thunderbirds at Nellis AFB, NV; Squadron Commander Martin Gutierrez, M.D., a flight surgeon from the Chilean Air Force; Capt. Yoshiaki Inuzuki, M.D., a flight surgeon from the Japan Air Defense Force; Andrew Lam, M.D., a Family Medicine doctor from Fairfax, VA; and Goncalo Torrinha Alves, M.D., an Intensive Care resident at University on Minho in Portugal (and this year’s SMA International Scholarship winner).
   Although they had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic challenges during their training in the recent years, the Young Investigators of 2022 demonstrated remarkable resilience, embracing new techniques for learning and problem solving while laying the foundation for the legacy of a truly amazing new generation of Aerospace Medicine scientists. Undaunted, they will surely make their mark toward the challenges of space exploration. Remember, if you want to do more than just exist, you must have a dream. Dream well and make a difference.

                                                                                                          K. Jeffrey Myers, M.D.

A group of 13 people pose against the wall. These are the winner and runner-ups of the YIA.
From left to right: Dr. Mohammad Hirzallah, Dr. Andrew Lamb, Capt. Yoshiaki Inuzuki, Dr. Craig Kutz, Dr. Jeff Myers, Dr. Hugo Felix (Honorable mention), 2022 YIA winner Anna Wojdecka, Lynn Stanwyck, Dr. Goncalo Torrinha, Squadron Commander Martin Gutierrez, Abigail Santek, CDR Cheryl 'Clark' Griswold (2nd Runner-Up), and Dr. Joan Saary, standing in for 1st Runner-Up Victoria Tucci.