Dr. Fathi Karouia is a Research Scientist at NASA Ames Research Center (ARC) and a Research Professor within the School of Pharmacy at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). He received multiple degrees that encompass all disciplines related to space science, i.e., chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, and technologies. He has been conducting space research for the past 20 years where he has held different positions within space agencies - NASA and international partners, ESA and CNES - and within academia – University of Texas Medical Branch, University of Houston, and UCSF, to name just a few. Dr. Karouia’s research focuses on Space Microbiology, Space Radiation, Space Biology and Technology, and Human Spaceflight and Exploration.
Until recently, Dr. Karouia was the Non Rodent Portfolio Lead Scientist for NASA Space Biology. In that capacity, he oversaw all scientific aspects from NASA Space Biology Program that enables the use of model organisms from 5 disciplines, e.g., invertebrates, microbiology, plant, cellular and molecular biology, and developmental, reproduction, and evolution biology, onboard the ISS to better understand how biological systems respond to the uniqueness of the space environment. Most of the research conducted falls into basic space research however many flown projects also directly addressed the astronaut’s health.
Similarly as a mission scientist for the past 6 years, Dr. Karouia managed over 15 flight projects that encompass all disciplines within the Space Biology Program. During that time, many investigations were looking at addressing health risks associated with long duration space flight using well-known and defined model organisms. Additionally, Dr. Karouia was the only mission scientist that was managing all human flight projects sponsored by Space Biology Program. Furthermore, since it was initiated onboard the ISS in 2014, Dr. Karouia has been involved with the Microbial Observatory (MO) initiative in different capacities ranging from project manager, payload manager, and mission scientist. Following recommendations from the decadal survey, the MO initiative seeks to conduct onboard the ISS long-term, multigenerational studies of microbial population dynamics to study evolution of microbial populations and predict health and engineering risks during long-term space exploration.
Finally, Dr. Karouia is also actively involved with the development of technologies enabling space biology, human health, and exploration studies. In particular, he has been developing miniaturized and automated platforms to perform high-throughput in situ measurements in space to advance our goals in space research and exploration.