FORT WORTH, Texas -- Next week's scheduled launch of NASA's Life Sciences Shuttle Mission will include one crew member who once called Fort Worth his home.
He is Dr. Jim Pawelczyk, 36, who earned his Ph.D. degree in 1989 from the University of North Texas after training at what is now the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.
Dr. Pawelczyk's role on the Space Shuttle mission is to collect data on the sympathetic nerve traffic of the other six astronauts on the mission. His work is intended to provide information of value both to future astronauts and to older adults.
Reflecting the mission's purpose, the Space Shuttle Columbia is called the STS-90 Neurolab mission. It will study human neurological diseases and disorders with some 26 experiments scheduled to take place during its 17 days in space. Launch is scheduled for April 16 at 2:19 p.m., EDT, from the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission is scheduled to return to earth at approximately 11:07 a.m., EDT, on May 3.
Dr. Peter Raven, chair of the department of integrative physiology at the UNT Health Science Center, said that Dr. Pawelczyk's research focuses on neural and mechanical factors that affect rapidly responding blood pressure regulatory mechanisms. "He was always committed and driven to succeed in this field," said Dr. Raven. "One of his dreams was to fly on the shuttle." Dr. Pawelczyk trained under Dr. Raven at the UNT Health Science Center.
Dr. Raven is planning to attend the shuttle's launch, as are Dr. David M. Richards, president of the health science center, Dr. Benjamin L. Cohen, vice president for health affairs and executive dean of the health science center's Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine, and Dr. Tom Yorio, dean of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the health science center.