Scholarship Award Alumni - Kristine Khieu


Kristine Khieu

University of California, San Diego
Bachelor of Science - 2019
2017 USRA Scholarship Winner

Kristine dreams big, aspiring to be a Renaissance woman motivated by curiosity and the desire to become the best version of herself. After a freshman seminar on space physiology, she combined her interest in medicine with technical aspects of math and physics to enter into the field of bioengieering. Growing up as "a complete space nerd", looking back she thinks, "My younger self would be shocked to learn that I would not only be visiting NASA, but I would also be actively contributing to the advancement of human health in space."

At first apprehensive about entering the field of bioengineering, one of her first professors eased her fears and provided an opportunity to work in the Orthopaedic Surgery Lab at UCSD, where she uncovered how muscles in astronaut spines change after being exposed to space. She has also studied the biomechanics of rat bones exposed to a space-analog of microgravity. She exercised her love of engineering and troubleshooting at the Neutral Buoyancy Lab at Johnson Space Center, where astronauts tested an asteroid sampling device which she led a student team to develop as part of the NASA Micro-g NExT engineering challenge. She has worked with astronauts and NASA engineers to counteract physiological changes due to space travel, and which she hopes will take humans to Mars.

After volunteering at a homeless shelter in downtown San Diego, Kristine founded Tritons for Sally Ride Science, in which undergraduate students work to improve science education in underprivileged communities through tutoring and workshops, with topics ranging from video game design to seismology. She hopes "to motivate students in underprivileged communities and to continue broadening science participation."