Nicole McGaa works to ensure safe space travel

Nicole McGaa, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering at MIT, is fascinated by meteor showers, medicine, and outer space. Her childhood in Pittsburgh involved stargazing and watching medical dramas on TV, with shows like “Star Trek” influencing her view of space as a realm of possibilities and inclusivity.

At MIT, McGaa found a unique intersection of her interests in space and medicine, leading her to specialize in bioastronautics. Her research focuses on ensuring the well-being of astronauts during space travel, with a goal of developing solutions to mitigate the physiological effects of extended space missions.

Dual Passion: Space and Medicine

Growing up, McGaa admired both the wonders of space and the healing professions, blending her interests seamlessly at MIT. Her interest in space medicine was sparked by the Institute’s rare program in the field, propelling her towards a career in bioastronautics.

Emergency Medicine Connection

McGaa’s experience as a certified EMT with MIT Emergency Medical Services has been pivotal in shaping her path in bioastronautics. The intersection of emergency medicine and space medicine has provided her with a unique perspective on caring for individuals in both clinical and extraterrestrial settings.

Diversity and Advocacy

As an Oglala Lakota, McGaa remains committed to promoting Indigenous representation and inclusivity at MIT. Through her leadership roles and advocacy efforts, she has championed initiatives to support Native students and foster cultural awareness on campus.

Exploring New Frontiers

McGaa’s research in bioastronautics extends to projects like MIT’s Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit, designed to counteract muscle and bone loss in astronauts. Her future studies aim to delve into spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome (SANS) and its impact on astronauts’ health.

Industry Experience

McGaa’s industry stints at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center and Blue Origin have provided her with diverse perspectives in aerospace engineering. These experiences have honed her skills and underscored the importance of innovation in the field.

Embracing her Indigenous values and commitment to community, McGaa sees her diverse pursuits as interconnected. Her vision for advancing space exploration stems from a desire to solve complex challenges and inspire future generations to reach for the stars.