Aspiring space doctor, Vienna Tran found her passion in space when she visited an observatory as a child. Over the following years she immersed herself in astronomy books, space documentaries and learning all about the universe.Years later, she met former astronaut and NASA administrator, Charles Bolden at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in 2017 in Adelaide. His words of encouragement helped solidify her decision to pursue space medicine as a career.
“He told me that, as a space doctor, I could well be an ‘expert’ in my field and from then, I was hooked!” said Vienna.
Now, Vienna is combining an Honours degree with her medical degree at the University of Adelaide. Her thesis involves analysing data from the Artificial Gravity Bed Rest study at the European Space Agency (AGBRESA). To simulate the effects of microgravity on the body. 24 participants spent 60 days in bed at a 6 degree head-down tilt. Her mission now is to determine what bedrest does to the gluteal muscles in the hip, and whether artificial gravity has any effect on the results.
As a quiet and conscientious school student, Vienna says her heart was in STEM but her desire to improve interpersonal skills led her to study medicine. For Vienna, being a space doctor is the ultimate dream.
“Whether that takes me to an Antarctica research analogue, the flight surgeon’s seat at Mission Control, or to outer space itself, I’m ready for it.”
She is further inspired by the presence of the Australian Space Agency in Adelaide, her home city.
“Both school children and adults alike are suddenly more excited about using STEM and the arts to understand space.”
“I find it very meaningful that our Agency will carry the legacy of Australia’s rich spacefaring history, while making way for new opportunities in fields like the space life sciences.”
Vienna’s study highlights:
- Helping retrieve patients with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in Broome, WA
- Undertaking a research project while learning about aviation medicine at the RAAF in Edinburgh, SA
- Giving a talk at the SA Space School where she herself had been a student
- Being awarded a scholarship to the Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program
Vienna’s tips for a career in space:
- Seek out interest groups, professional associations and networks in your desired area of study and in the space industry
- Be proactive in seeking opportunities