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In Memoriam - Robert Kennedy

January 23, 2020

In Memoriam - Robert Kennedy

AsMA Headquarters staff were saddened to hear that Robert S. Kennedy, Ph.D., died in December.

   He was a Fellow of AsMA and had continued to review articles for the Blue Journal after retirement. A native of New York, Dr. Kennedy earned a B.A. at Iona College in New Rochelle, NY, in 1957 and then an M.A. in Experimental Psychology at Fordham University in New York City in 1959. He was awarded a Ph.D., also in Experimental Psychology, from the University of Rochester, NY, in 1972.
   Dr. Kennedy spent 22 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy, where, as a Research Psychologist, he began work developing batteries for sensory, cognitive, equilibrium, and information-processing tests for repeated measures applications. His studies in the Pensacola Slow Rotation Room, aimed at providing behavioral and physiological criteria for the use of artificial gravity in long-duration spaceflights, are generally viewed as classics in the field. His work on airsickness and seasickness with both normal and vestibular defective subjects laid the groundwork for the currently accepted view that persons with nonfunctional labyrinthine organs cannot become motion sick. His studies in the development of behavioral methods to quantify physiological and psychological stress in motion environments led to the development of many of the instruments currently used to assess motion sickness symptoms.
   Throughout his Navy career, Dr. Kennedy continued to work in human factors, culminating in the position of Head of the Human Performance Sciences Department at the Naval Biodynamics Laboratory, New Orleans, LA. However, he continued his work under NASA, National Science Foundation, Navy, Air Force, and Army sponsorship. His later work encompassed individual differences in adaptation to rearranged perceptual worlds, which is relevant to space adaptation syndrome, simulator sickness, and virtual-reality systems. He also studied visual requirements for flight simulators and human factors in nuclear power plants.
   Dr. Kennedy was also a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Psychological Society. He was a member of the Aerospace Human Factors Association, the Human Factors Society, the Undersea and Hyperbaric Medical Society, and the SAFE Association. His honors included listings in Who’s Who in America, American Men in Science, and Leaders in American Science. He also held the U.S. Navy Commendation Medal and was the recipient of AsMA’s Raymond F. Longacre Award in 1993.