About the Editors


Cheryl A. Nickerson, PhD
Professor of Life Sciences, Biodesign Institute
Arizona State University

Dr. Nickerson’s research focuses on the “Mechanobiology of Infectious Disease”, a discipline that her team helped launch over two decades ago with the discovery that the physical force of fluid shear regulates microbial virulence in the foodborne pathogen Salmonella. Her lab studies the effects of biomechanical forces on bacterial pathogen and mammalian host cellular responses, how these responses regulate the transition between normal cellular homeostasis or disease progression, and translation of this knowledge to biomedical and biotechnology applications. Her research blends microbiology, tissue engineering, and physics to study the dynamic interactions between the pathogen and host that lead to infection and disease. Her team has developed several innovative model pathogenesis systems to study these processes, including i) characterizing bacterial pathogen responses to physiological fluid shear forces encountered in the infected host, as well as in the microgravity environment of spaceflight, and ii) 3-D biomimetic tissue models of human mucosal tissues which closely mimic the structure and function of in vivo tissues. Her lab is also actively involved in characterizing the “Microbiome of the Built Environment” and habitat sustainability as it pertains to infectious disease risks for astronauts and microbial biofouling of environmental life support systems of spacecraft.

Deputy Editors

Brian Motil, PhD

As Chief of Thermal Systems and Transport Processes Branch at NASA Glenn Research Center, OH, USA, Dr. Motil's research focused on fluid physics in the microgravity environment. Prior to this he served as the discipline lead for microgravity fluid physics at NASA Glenn where he oversaw the design, development and implementation of NASA funded research in fluid and thermal transport, for platforms such as drop towers, parabolic flight aircraft, sounding rockets and the ISS. Brian oversees the journal's content in microgravity fluid physics.

Mark Ott, PhD
Technical Lead, Microbiology Laboratory
NASA Johnson Space Center

At the NASA Johnson Space Center (USA), Mark oversees microbial monitoring of mission operations and has research expertise in the areas of microbial ecology of spacecraft, human and microbial responses to spaceflight and the development of advanced tissue culture models to investigate infectious disease.

Managing Editor

   Jialiang Cai, PhD

Jialiang received a B.Sc. in Ecology from East China Normal University (China) and a M.Sc. in Environmental Sciences from Peking University (China). He earned his Ph.D. in Hydrogeology from Freie Universität Berlin (Germany). Jialiang continued to work first as a Postdoctoral Researcher and later as a PI (Visiting Research Fellow) for 7 years at Aalto University (Finland). His research focused on understanding the exposure and resilience of society to nature resources risk as well as the synergies and tradeoffs between economic competitiveness, social welfare, and environmental sustainability for accessing transformative pathways towards achieving the 2030 Agenda in a warmer world. Prior to joining the npj series in May 2023, Jialiang served as a Senior Editorial Development Specialist at earth science, astronomy and space sciences, physics, and chemistry journals at Frontiers. He is based in the Shanghai office.  

Basma Qazi-Chaudhry, PhD

Basma joined the npjs in August 2021 after completion of her PhD at King’s College London. Her doctoral research was at the interface of chemistry, physics and bio imaging developing nanoparticle probes as biological imaging contrast agents for vibrational micro-spectroscopy. Prior to that, she received her master’s degree in micro and nanotechnologies for integrated systems and her bachelor’s in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from EPFL, Switzerland. Basma is based in the London office and is currently on parental leave.

Associate Editors

Jennifer Barrila, PhD
Assistant Research Professor
The Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University

Jennifer Barrila is an assistant research professor in the Biodesign Center for Fundamental and Applied Microbiomics at Arizona State University (ASU). Her expertise is in infectious disease and 3-D tissue engineering, with a focus on achieving a better understanding of the impact of spaceflight on human health. She has extensively used both spaceflight analogs and spaceflight platforms (Shuttle, ISS, commercial vehicles) to study the influence of these environments on host-pathogen/microbiome interactions. Dr. Barrila received the 2014 Thora W. Halstead Young Investigator’s Award from the American Society for Gravitational and Space Research and the 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from NASA.

Eleanor A. Blakely, PhD
Senior Staff Biophysicist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
University of California Berkeley

Dr. Blakely's research focuses on the basic mechanisms of radiation responses, with an emphasis on charged particle radiation effects. Eleanor oversees the journal's content in radiation responses.

Alexander Chouker, MD, PhD
Professor, Department of Anesthesiology
University of Munich
Munich, Germany

Dr. Chouker heads the Laboratory of Translational Research "Stress and Immunity" with a focus on clinical immunology. He has been PI and science coordinator of international research projects on the ISS, in space analogue environments and clinical settings. Currently, he oversees the journal's content in human physiology.

Martina Heer, PhD
Program Director of Nutritional Sciences
IU International University of Applied Sciences. Erfurt, Germany
Professor, Institute of Nutritional and Food Sciences
University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

Dr. Heer's research focuses on the interaction of nutrient supply and immobility on fluid and electrolyte, carbohydrate metabolism, and the musculoskeletal system. She has been Principal- and Co-Investigator of several space flight experiments on the space station MIR, on the International Space Station, and in space analogue studies.

Atsushi Higashitani, PhD
Professor, Department of Molecular and Chemical Life Sciences
Tohoku University
Tohoku, Japan

Prof. Higashitani's research focuses on biological responses to environmental stress (including those during spaceflight) and aging in the experimental model organisms, Caenorhabditis elegans and Arabidopsis thaliana. He oversees the journal's content in animal models to study stress in spaceflight.

Douglas Matson, PE, PhD
Professor, Mechanical Engineering Department
Tufts University

Dr. Matson's research focuses on the use of microgravity to enable studies on the influence of convection on phase selection during rapid solidification of molten metal alloys and on measurement of thermophysical properties to support computational thermodynamic and process modeling applications. Doug oversees the journal's materials science content.

David Mendoza-Cozatl, PhD
Associate Professor, Division of Plant Sciences
University of Missouri

Dr. Mendoza-Cozatl's research focuses on understanding how plants take up, accumulate and transport trace metals and macronutrients between roots and leaves and from leaves to seeds. He oversees the journal's content in plant biology.

Ranga NarayananRanga Narayanan, PhD
Distinguished Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering
University of Florida

Ranga Narayanan is a Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Florida. His area of research is in Interfacial Instability and Pattern Formation. He has authored or co-authored several books and over one hundred and two archival papers in the field. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, AAAS, AIChE and has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, Humboldt Foundation and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.

Nimesh Patel, PhD
Associate Professor
University of Houston
Houston, TX, USA


Nimesh is an Associate Professor at the University of Houston College of Optometry. His area of research focuses on optic nerve head structure and visual function in optic neuropathies.

Mark ShelhamerMark Shelhamer, Sc.D.
Professor, Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery
The Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine


Dr. Shelhamer’s research is in the area of sensorimotor function and adaptation, with an emphasis on the vestibular system. He is also pursuing work on multi-system adaptation (integrative physiology and complex networks) to improve health and performance in space. He was Chief Scientist for the NASA Human Research Program from 2013 to 2016.

Lori Ploutz-Snyder, PhD
Dean, School of Kinesiology
University of Michigan

Previously, Prof. Ploutz-Snyder was the Lead Scientist for the Exercise Physiology and Countermeasures Project at the NASA Johnson Space Center. She is one of the world leaders for her innovative models to understand the effects of unloading on muscle function and bone composition and how to counteract the negative effects. Her work aims to improve the physiologic function of astronauts during space flight. Lori oversees the journal's content in muscle and bone physiology.

Jan Stepanek, MD
Director Aerospace Medicine Program
Mayo Clinic

My educational and research interests center on human health in austere environments, including specifically high altitude threats and spatial disorientation in particular reference to health threats emanating from human spaceflight.

Angelique Van Ombergen, PhD 
Discipline Lead for Life Sciences 
European Space Agency (ESA) 
Visiting Professor of Translational Neurosciences 
University of Antwerp 
Antwerp, Belgium 

Angelique Van Ombergen graduated with a PhD in Medical Sciences from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, in 2017. During this time, she was an Honorary Research Fellow at Imperial College London, United Kingdon and a Visiting Research Follow at the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. She continued her research on spaceflight-induced brain changes during her postdoctoral studies and is currently a visiting professor at the University of Antwerp. She joined the European Space Agency in 2019 and currently works as Discipline Lead for Life Sciences in the ESA SciSpacE Team (HRE), overseeing ESA’s biology and health research activities across several ground and space platforms such as the International Space Station, parabolic flights and bedrest. She is an avid science communicator and is the author of several books, including three non-fiction children's books that have been translated in several languages.

Editorial Board Members

Mina Bissell, PhD, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, CA, USA
Rebecca Blue, MD, MPH, The University of Texas Medical Branch, TX, USA
Marjan Boerma, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, AR, USA
Sven Bossuyt, PhD, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland
Jennifer Fogarty, PhD, Sophic Synergistics, LLC, TX, USA
Donald H. Burke, PhD, University of Missouri, MO, USA
Aurélie Crabbé, PhD, University of Ghent, Ghent, Belgium
Douglas Durian, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, PA, USA
Hans Fecht, PhD, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany
Nandu Goswami, PhD, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria
Rasha Hammamieh, PhD, US Army Medical Research and Material Command, USACEHR, MD, USA
John Z. Kiss, PhD, University of North Carolina, NC, USA
Sandra Magnus, PhD, The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), VA, USA
Xiao Wen Mao, MD, Loma Linda University, CA, USA
Chiaki Mukai, MD, PhD, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, Tokyo, Japan
Sundeep Mukherjee, PhD, University of North Texas, TX, USA
Henry K. Nahra, PhD, NASA Glenn Research Center, OH, USA
Eric Nauman, PhD, Purdue University, IN, USA
Rosa Padilla, PhD, Universities Space Research Association, OH, USA
Robert J. Ploutz-Snyder, PhD, University of Michigan, MI, USA
D. Marshall Porterfield, PhD, Purdue University, IN, USA
Kevin Sato, PhD, Wyle Science, Technology and Engineering, NASA Ames Research Center, CA, USA
Scott M. Smith, PhD, NASA Johnson Space Center, TX, USA
Phillip Stafford, PhD, Caris Life Sciences, AZ, USA
Stephen Tse, PhD, Rutgers University, NJ, USA
James Wilson, PhD, Villanova University, PA, USA
Sara R. Zwart, PhD, Universities Space Research Association (USRA), TX, USA


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