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By John Hobbs

Friends in High Places:
Tim Macaulay PhD ’20

Illustration of Tim Macaulay
Illustration of Tim Macaulay
Illustration: Jaya Nicely

Tim Macaulay, PhD ’20
Lab Lead Neuroscience Laboratory
KBR Human Health and Performance Contract
NASA Johnson Space Center


While pursuing his PhD in biokinesiology at USC, Tim Macaulay’s studies focused on the adaptability of the human brain and body. Since then, Macaulay’s scientific pursuits have taken to the heavens and back, studying the impacts of space travel on the human body. While Macaulay is earthbound (for now), he wouldn’t rule out a trip to the stars.


How did you get your start at NASA?

Networking! I stayed in touch with a previous mentor who put me in contact with the right people at KBR/NASA.


How has your USC education helped you succeed at NASA?

My experiences at USC helped solidify a foundation of research and leadership skills that I have been able to apply and build upon.


How does biokinesiology fit in at NASA?

We investigate how the effects of spaceflight on sensorimotor/vestibular function may pose a risk to astronaut performance and evaluate how countermeasures may reduce these risks.


What’s the coolest part about working for NASA?

Working with the crew members is definitely a cool, unique opportunity. We do testing with crew before and immediately after spaceflight and even help them conduct studies in-flight (remotely of course).


What advice would you give to a BKN student who wanted to follow in your footsteps?

I found all of the BKN faculty to be extremely helpful and eager to provide guidance. So, reach out, ask questions and follow through!


Let’s say you got the opportunity to go up on the next manned space flight? Are you going, and why/why not?

Absolutely! Health risks have always been a concern, but now I think the perspective gained would be worth it. Plus, I would love the opportunity to test our countermeasures first-hand in-flight!