Laura Drudi

McGill University
Montreal, QC, Canada


Principal Investigator: Richard Boyle
Project: Functional and Mechanistic Analysis of the Bystander Effect in the Nervous System

Education and Experience:

I remember being overcome with awe, feeling a sense of adventure and believing that anything is possible when I looked up to the stars as a child. At the age of 9 years old, while on a class excursion to the Montreal Space Center, my passion for space and my aspiration to become an astronaut began. When confronting my parents with this realization, I was simply met with support but they emphasized hard work as the key to success.

I am currently a second year Canadian medical student hoping to combine my interests in space and medicine as I pursue a career as a flight surgeon, aiming to pioneer a new era of space life sciences research as the endeavors to space exploration continues. It is for this reason I would like to attend the NASA Academy at Ames, in order to learn, enrich my understanding, and gain experience in the space life sciences field.

I worked at McGill's Aerospace Medical Research Unit investigating spatial disorientation. I also reviewed literature on lunar dust toxicity and the implication this poses for operational space medicine. Finally, this past summer, I collaborated with NASA Dryden developing a fatigue risk management policy. I am also working on another literature review investigating the effects of endothelial cell function in microgravity. I attended and presented at various conferences in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary, Boston, Los Angeles and Daejeon (Republic of Korea).

My interests outside of medical research are varied. I am the McGill Co-editor in Chief of the McGill Journal of Medicine and a McGill varsity rugby athlete. I am also a recreational runner, skier, and I participate in extreme sports such as skydiving, scuba diving and bungee jumping.

I plan on attending the Summer Studies Program at the International Space University in 2011. I then hope to attend an aerospace medicine residency in hopes of practicing as a flight surgeon and conducting space life sciences research. My long-term aspirations include applying to the astronaut-training corps with a hope of representing Canada as an astronaut in a physically and intellectually stimulating career.

NASA Academy would be an opportunity to meet space experts and future colleagues and learn from their expertise. It would also be an occasion to pursue my interests in space life sciences, allowing me to expand on the research I have already conducted. My intention is to be part of this cutting-edge field bringing together all the medical knowledge acquired over the years and applying it to the extreme environment of space. I hope to embark on a journey to become a pioneer, a student, a teacher, and an explorer for the rest of my life. I cannot be more thrilled and I am only filled with humility to discover what lies ahead.