This story was initially published on SFU News: Co-op Students Land 'Space' Jobs on March 15, 2012.
When Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield blasts off to the International Space Station in December he’ll be well prepared thanks in part to a pre-flight exercise program partially designed by co-op student Karen Tulloch.
A biomedical physiology and kinesiology (BPK) major, Tulloch has been working for the past three months as a BPK co-op student at the Canadian Space Agency in St. Hubert, Quebec.
The federal government has just announced its intention to renew its commitment to the ISS – great news for astronauts and SFU co-op students. There are 42 students from across Canada working with the agency this term.
Tulloch’s work has included research on various training methods to incorporate into Hadfield’s pre-flight and in-flight exercise protocols, as well as the assessment of several exercise software programs used to track and monitor his training regimen.
She has also helped review the nutritional content of the Canadian food supplies to be included in the astronauts’ care packages and bonus food containers.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn things you’d never get to in a classroom, like designing an exercise program that takes into account the conditions in space,”
"It really challenges your thinking regarding gravity and the measures that have to be taken to prevent muscular atrophy and maintain aerobic fitness.”
SFU psychology student Stephanie Fowler and computing science student Matthew Torgerson are also completing co-op work terms at the agency.
Fowler is helping to plan for psychological support for the second long-duration space flight of a Canadian astronaut and Torgerson is involved in software engineering for training with the Canadarm2.
Tulloch has already completed two previous co-op work terms, including an ongoing stint as a childhood-obesity researcher in BPK professor Diane Finegood’s lab. The research reflects her passion for helping obese children improve their health and quality of life.
She plans to do one more co-op term before graduating in spring 2014 to focus on becoming an exercise physiologist.