Professor from the School of Engineering is the only Portuguese in NASA evaluation panel

Pedro Arezes, professor of Industrial Engineering, president of the School of Engineering of the University of Minho (EEUM) and national director of the MIT Portugal Programme, was invited to be part of NASA’s panel of reviewers for research proposals on human missions in space. He is the only Portuguese among the 60 scientists from all over the world that integrate this restricted panel. The invitation also follows the involvement of the professor and researcher from the School of Engineering of UMinho in a joint work with MIT on the design of spacesuits in long duration missions, such as the manned mission to Mars.

The panel of reviewers for the HERO (Human Exploration Research Opportunities) programme aims to evaluate proposals submitted to NASA for its human component research programme in space exploration. Crew health and performance are critical to the success of human exploration beyond Earth orbit. The Human Component Research Programme (referred to as HRP) investigates and mitigates the greatest risks to human health and performance, providing preventative measures and technologies essential for human exploration of space. The risks considered include both physiological and performance effects resulting from exposure to risk factors such as space radiation, gravity fluctuations and extreme environments, as well as the unique challenges in mission medical support, human factors and mission behavioural performance.

“It is an invitation that honours me greatly. Although my contribution is limited, knowing that we have a say in the future of space research and space missions is something that especially motivates me”, says Pedro Arezes. The Ergonomics and Human Factors research group of EEUM, which he coordinates, has been developing several projects related to workers’ safety and health, so Pedro Arezes considers it “very gratifying to know that these projects will contribute to minimise the risks that astronauts will have to face in the next space missions, whether in the missions back to the Moon or in the long-desired first space mission to Mars”. “I am a father of a baby girl of just 8 months and it is enticing to think about the role these missions could play in her generation,” he adds.

Pedro Arezes, born in Barcelos and living in Guimarães for over 30 years, is 48 years old and has a PhD in Production and Systems Engineering from UMinho. Since 2019 he is president of the School of Engineering, where he is full professor of Ergonomics and Human Factors. He has developed post-doctoral work at TU Delft (Netherlands), MIT and Harvard University (USA). Since 2016 he is also director of the MIT-Portugal Program. He has been leading the Ergonomics & Human Factors research group at Algoritmi Centre for more than 15 years, where he has coordinated and collaborated in more than 50 R&D projects, is the author of more than 130 articles in indexed international scientific journals, and has been awarded throughout his career in several countries, such as Portugal, USA, Spain, Brazil and Turkey.