Former Astronaut to Open ATS 2022 With Lessons from Space

Catherine Grace “Cady” Coleman, PhD
Catherine Grace “Cady” Coleman, PhD

Feelings of isolation, of being disconnected, are a troubling side effect of the COVID-19 era amid social distancing guidelines and virtual interactions aimed at protecting public health. Former NASA astronaut and retired U.S. Air Force colonel Catherine Grace “Cady” Coleman, PhD, has a unique perspective on dealing with these social challenges after logging more than 180 days in space. She will share her insights from two space shuttle missions and six months aboard the International Space Station during the Opening Ceremony of the ATS 2022 International Conference.

Scheduled for 4:30-5:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, May 14, in Hall E (North Building, Exhibition Level), Moscone Center, the ceremony will officially kick off the Society’s first in-person conference since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Coleman, who was the Lead Robotics and Lead Science officer during her time on the ISS, will discuss how she managed isolation and maintained connection while in space, providing guidance on how to return to normalcy as restrictions imposed due to SARS-CoV-2 are lifted.

“When the mission you’ve chosen forces you to be isolated, you find a way to be the best you can,” she told MIT News in an interview in the early days of the pandemic.

A passionate advocate for inclusion in STEM/STEAM fields, Dr. Coleman is a chemist with a Bachelor of Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an engineer, having received a doctorate degree in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She is currently a research affiliate of the MIT Media Lab and Arizona State University’s Global Explorer in Residence. She is also an advisor to Earthrise Alliance, which uses satellite imagery to provide context for environmental and social justice issues.

An amateur flute player, Dr. Coleman is best known for her “Space Duet” with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and her work from space with the acclaimed Irish band, The Chieftains.

Lynn M. Schnapp, MD, ATSF
Lynn M. Schnapp, MD, ATSF

Also at the Opening Ceremony, ATS President Lynn M. Schnapp, MD, ATSF, will greet attendees with two heartfelt messages: “Welcome Back!” and “Thank You!”

“It is a time to celebrate being together again after more than two years of sacrifices by our members, and remember and honor the friends, family, and patients that we’ve lost in the pandemic,” Dr. Schnapp said.

She will deliver an abbreviated state-of-the-Society address and recognize the contributions of members to the advancement of pulmonary, critical care, and sleep medicine, including new ATS Fellows in the Class of 2022, this year’s ATS Research Program grant recipients, and three Respiratory Health Award honorees. The Public Service Award, World Lung Health Award, and Jo Rae Wright Award for Outstanding Science will be presented.

The ATS 2022 Opening Ceremony is sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.


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