Profile – Dr Iya Whiteley, University College London

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Dr Iya Whiteley

Dr Iya Whiteley


Dr Iya Whiteley

Job title:

Space Psychologist and Director of the Centre for Space Medicine

Place of work / study:

University College London, Centre for Space Medicine. The Centre is part of one of the largest Space Laboratories in Europe, the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, located on a beautiful hill in Dorking, close to Guildford.

Area of Research:

Undertaking applied research, designing and developing techniques to explore the interaction of people, technology and the environment to improve quality of life in space.

Tell us a little about yourself:

I’m a broadly qualified Human Computer Interaction and Cognitive System Engineer with over 12 years of experience in the aerospace domain and a background in clinical psychology, multicultural crew selection and cockpit design.

At Emirates Airlines, I conducted psychometric evaluations of candidates during the aircrew recruitment process. More recently, I directed an ESA funded research project to develop psychological support tools for crews on exploration missions to the Moon and Mars. I also featured on a BBC TV show called Astronauts

I was trained as an Astronaut Instructor at the European Astronaut Centre (EAC). At EAC I worked as a Human Behaviour Performance Expert and also developed training courses for new European Astronauts – I have also published a book on this topic, toolkit for a space psychologist. In addition I chair the Space Environment Working Group (SEWG) advising to the UK Space Agency and have been invited to represent SEWG at the UK Space Exploration Advisory Committee. My latest papers focus on how to detect invasively fatigue in astronauts. She explores our inner space while we explore outer space with the aim to develop our abilities and to realise our potential right from birth.

I am fascinated by how our mind works. At times, it seems we have super powers and we are capable of extraordinary things. People working in professions like astronauts, cosmonauts and surgeons make split seconds decisions that save missions and our lives. I wanted to understand what make these people unique, how they are trained and can their performance be improved. I chose the profession of a Psychologist and a Cognitive Engineer, who designs training, tools and the surrounding environment for these unique individuals. I learned to fly, skydive and scuba dive, to understand how the mind works under time pressure and how we to react to ever changing environment around us.

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