GROTON, CT. – A three person team from the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory (NSMRL), traveled to the National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA) Johnson Space Center (JSC), Houston, Texas, to discuss current research regarding the relationship between carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and performance in enclosed working and living environments, May 17-19, 2017.
The NSMRL team consisted of Lt. Christopher Rodeheffer and Lt. Cmdr. Jay Haran, principal investigators for the Warfighter Performance Department; and Dr. Ben Lawson, Technical Director. Their main host was Dr. Laura Bollweg of the Human Factors and Behavioral Performance Research Division.
Rodeheffer presented results from an NSMRL study that examined the impact of low-to-moderate levels of ambient CO2 on cognitive performance of submariners. The presentation was given to members of NASA’s Human Research Program (HRP) Risk Board. This group performs risk assessments for spaceflight missions. The board facilitates the integration of human research, medical operations, occupational surveillance, systems engineering and many other disciplines in a comprehensive review of the human system risks.
The results of the NSMRL study detected no significant deficits in the cognitive performance of submariners on sea patrols. These findings were in agreement with a NASA study that found similar results with research participants at the JSC.
“This meeting provided an opportunity for NASA and NSMRL scientists to come together to discuss the risks, needs, and requirements in our shared research areas,” said Haran.
“Having the opportunity to meet with the team of NASA scientists to discuss our research, as well as theirs, was really insightful and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Rodeheffer.
The two-day meeting at NASA included several briefs from NASA scientists, as well as a meeting to discuss mutual research interests. While NSMRL and NASA are very different organizations, they support similar missions involving extreme remote environments. Areas of common research include: sleep, fatigue, high workload, artificial lighting, moods changes under altered work shifts, and the effects of isolation and confinement.
NSMRL provides innovative human-centric research for the Submarine Force. NSMRL takes the lead in undersea human factors, sensory sciences and operational medicine, delivers timely evidenced-based healthcare solutions. Conveniently located at the Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut, NSMRL researchers have access to three submarine squadrons, the Navy Submarine School, the Naval Submarine Support Facility, and the Naval Undersea Medical Institute. The laboratory is staffed by a diverse group of psychologists, audiologists, physicians, physiologists, and electrical, biomedical and nuclear engineers. Areas of research include submariner wellness, psychological fitness, shipboard health and performance, underwater bioeffects, submarine survival and escape, and hearing protection and performance.