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Dr Iya Whiteley
Centre for Space Medicine
University College London
Holmbury St. Mary Dorking
Dr Iya Whiteley profile picture
  • Principal Research Associate Director of the Centre for Space Medicine
  • Dept of Space & Climate Physics
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Dr Iya Whiteley - Space Psychologist, Director of the Centre for Space Medicine at Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL 

The curiosity about how we can perform in extreme circumstances and exceed our own expectations, lead Iya to learn how to fly, skydive, scuba dive, among other hobbies, and study psychology and computer science – the cross disciplinary area now termed, Human Factors and Cognitive Engineering. Iya lead projects to develop EPSILON (Embedded Psychological Support Integrated for LONg-duration missions) toolset for exploration expeditions to the Moon and Mars; to design CET IO (Crew Expert Tool) to resolve innovatively challenges in a highly technical and alien environment while voyaging to Mars, when there is no live communication link with Earth. Prior to developing Human Behaviour Performance course for the new European Astronauts in Cologne, Iya was teaching human factors to engineers, designing military cockpits, selecting crew from over 70 nationalities for Emirates Airlines and working on understanding why in military environment experts speaking the same language do not understand each other. Now, working as a Director at the Centre for Space Medicine, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Iya has been instrumental in developing collaboration activities between Russia, United States and UK, in particular, the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre and NASA’s National Space Biomedical Research Institute.

International Space Medicine Summit 2020 Session 7 - YouTube at Rice University, Baker Institute, US (Iya Whitely)

Public Engagement

Iya is yearly requested as a public speaker by the Royal Institution, the New Scientist Live, the Wellcome Trust and the TV Presenter on BBC Science Expert and Presenter (6 episodes): Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? which run three times due to its public demand since its production.

Popular Media

Radio: BBC Radio 4 - Woman's Hour, Women and Space: Nasa's Holly Ridings, the psychology of space travel, Rocket Women and the cultural significance of space

TV: BBC Two - Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? - Experts

Research Summary

iViewExpert for NHS: 

Adapting a method from Human-Space-Flight, Civil and Military Aviation, to externalise surgeons’ expertise in complex technical tasks, for transfer to surgical trainees; developing an educational tool to uncover the ‘unconscious competence’ of expert together with a team of surgeons at the NHS Highland in Inverness, Prof Kenneth G Walker, Director of Scotland Surgical Boot Camps & Highland RGH Boot Camps (holistic induction courses) and Dr Vivienne Blackhall


iViewExpert for transfer of technical expertise: 

Using a video-cued recall and debrief method from astronaut, pilot and firefighter training, to understand and transfer technical medical expertise.


ESA iVOICE study: 

Fatigue detection in astronauts via voice analysis:



Astronauts well-being detection via voice and conversation content analysis.


Expert Tool to Support Crew Autonomous Operations in Complex Human Spacecraft


Tools for Psychological Support of Astronauts to the Moon and Mars

Defining a range of tools aimed at providing psychological support to the crew during long-duration exploration missions. The investigation started from identifying the type of issues the crew will need to deal with. Then groups of interacting factors were systematically identified within the Psychological Issues Matrix (i.e. Psy-Matrix), which trigger the issues. The existing astronaut psychological support model was extended and the Embedded Psychological Support Integrated for LONg-duration missions (EPSILON) was defined. A new model of psychological support model of astronauts proposed. 

Teaching Summary

University College London, UCL short courses

  • Human Factors in Risk, Reliability and Resilience in Engineering Management

University College London, MSc Technology Management

  • Aviation and Space Human Factors

University College London

  • Human Rated Space Systems

King's College London, Space Physiology & Health, MSc

  • Space Psychology
  • Tools for Psychological Support of Astronauts during long duration missions to the Moon and Mars

Collaborations - Podcasts, Videos, Interviews


UCL Dementia Research (14 Mar 2022): The effects of Space Travel on the Brain

UCL Wilderness Medicine Society conference (12 Jan2022) Panel: Psychology of Spaceflight, Mars & Pandemics. Panel with former NASA astronaut Prof Jay Buckey, who orbited Earth 256 times

Space Generation Society (14 Jan 2021) Panel: Health in Space series.  The Space Within talk

Made at UCL Podcast (2021): S2 Ep6: Mission to Mars | Made at UCL

Let’s Talk Surgery with Inverness Surgeons using iViewExpert (Jun 2021): Performance project series with Iya Whiteley

Pushkin House (London) COSMOS (27 Jul 2021): Reverse Perspective exhibition. On the panel with former cosmonaut Sergei Avdeev “How does going to space changes the world?”

UCL MSSL CSM/Architecture department with Marjan Colletti video (May 2021) Tools to elevate sensory deprivation for Off-World Living to exhibit at the bi-annual Architectural CITYX Venice Italian Virtual Pavilion

The Royal Institution lecture/panel (19 June 2019): How to Cope With Living on Mars

01-DEC-2016 Director, Centre for Space Medicine, MSSL Dept of Space & Climate Physics University College London(UCL), United Kingdom
01-MAY-2011 – 30-NOV-2016 Deputy Director, Centre for Space Medicine, MSSL Dept of Space & Climate Physics University College London (UCL), United Kingdom
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