I was trained as a translational neuroscientist and integrative physiologist with emphases in spaceflight/extreme physiology, neuroimaging, and neuromodulation. My research focuses on applying ambulatory brain and physiology monitoring for assessment of neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral disorders elicited by exposure to extreme operational environments or activities, and development of countermeasures for their mitigation. My technical research expertise encompasses custom-developed ambulatory brain and multimodality physiology monitoring systems—NINscan, based on near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)—as well as standard monitoring techniques including (f)MRI, 2D/3D/Doppler ultrasound, ophthalmic tonometry, biopotentials (ECG, EMG, EEG, EOG, EDA), actigraphy, and polysomnography.
Within this research paradigm, I conducted numerous studies on healthy, elite (astronauts, firefighters, active military, athletes), and patient (Parkinson’s disease, cardiosurgical) populations in operational and clinical environments. Some of these include: (i) behavioral-genetics of serotoninergic activity and neurobehavioral disorders in genetic island isolates; (ii) assessment of vibrotactile sensory augmentation efficacy as countermeasure for spaceflight vestibular deconditioning and motor-cognitive performance in Parkinson’s disease; (iii) evaluation of microgravity emergency evacuation protocols from the International Space Station (ISS) within French Space Agency’s (CNES) Parabolic Flight Campaign #59), (iv) the first ambulatory 24-hour NIRS brain / multimodal physiologic monitoring (National Space Biomedical Research Institute, NSBRI); (v) demonstration of changes in cerebrovascular pulsatility during NASA Flight Opportunity Program parabolic microgravity flights; (vi) testing mechanical countermeasures for spaceflight-induced cephalad fluid shifts (NSBRI); (vii) validation of ambulatory functional brain and physiologic monitoring during exercise, cognitive tasks, sleep, and spaceflight-operational performance tasks in NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) facility and aboard the ISS; (viii) demonstration of brain movement within the skull during head impacts with implications for on-field traumatic brain injury (TBI) detection (NFL Players Association), and (ix) large data set analyses of cardio-surgical clinical outcomes.
I currently serve as a principal investigator on a translational study of neurophysiologic and cognitive markers of resiliency to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in firefighters and PTSD patients funded by The Last Call Foundation, and a co-investigator / neurobehavioral team lead on the first complex spaceflight study investigating functional brain, neurobehavioral, immune, metabolomic, and sleep changes in 2-, 6-, and 12-month missions in NASA's HERA facility and aboard the International Space Station, funded by NASA.
I have developed curricula and taught extensively throughout my career both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including courses in psychophysiology, human systems physiology, spaceflight/extreme physiology, neurorehabilitation, biomechanics, and have mentored undergraduate and graduate students. My leadership and management experience include organizing scientific and/or educational meetings, managing neuromotor/biomechanics as well as neuroimaging/integrative physiology laboratories, and establishing the Harvard Firefighter Health Initiative.
My continuing interests include human neurophysiologic and neurobehavioral performance in extreme operational environments—such as spaceflight, military deployments, and firefighting—development of countermeasures for mitigation of thus-induced medical conditions (e.g. spaceflight neurobehavioral decline and intracranial hypertension, PTSD, TBI, etc.), and their translation into clinical practice for treating analogous idiopathic clinical conditions in the veteran and general populations.