College of Engineering News Room

Kaitlin Lostroscio Awarded NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship

kaitlin lostroscio

Growing up in the shadow of Kennedy Space Center (KSC) NASA has always been part of Kaitlin Losctrocio's life.  Her dad worked at NASA for 45 years and she had many opportunities to participate in NASA activities such as Camp KSC.  Her parents supported and encouraged her to pursue a career in space exploration. 

Kaitlin's submitted proposal, "Biomechanics for Enhancement & Verification of Countermeasure Analysis Tools for Human Exploration Missions," has just earned her a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship (NSTRF).

Now a graduate student in mechanical engineering through the Accelerated Master's Program, she has worked as an undergraduate research assistant (REU) with the Center for Assistive, Rehabilitation and Robotics Technologies (CARRT) at USF, supporting motion analysis efforts for a variety of studies involving prosthesis comparisons, adaptive driving and distracted driving, and performance. 

As part of Dr. Stephanie Carey's Bioastronautics course, she worked with a team on a proposal for a rock chip sampling device for microgravity bodies for NASA's Micro-gravity Neutral Buoyancy Experimental Design Team (Micro-g NeXT) challenge. Her team was one of three teams selected from the University of South Florida in 2015 to complete a prototype and test at the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). The experience and connections led her to apply for an opportunity to be a Test Week Assistant for the following year's challenge.

As a NASA intern Kaitlin worked on research and development in the Dynamics Systems Test branch in the Software, Robotics, and Simulation division at Johnson Space Center (JSC), ultimately applying for the Pathways Intern (Co-op) program at JSC and receiving a Graduate Pathways Internship which closely aligned with the research and technical skills she gained throughout high school in the FIRST Robotics Competition as well as USF.  

She has completed two consecutive tours, in spring and summer of 2017 in the Simulation and Graphics branch of the same division. There, she supported biomechanical modeling work very closely aligned with the technical experience gained in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program with CARRT at USF. 

The NSTRF is supporting Kaitlin throughout master's coursework and research. Through this work, she will collect kinematic and dynamic data at the CARRT facilities which include a motion capture laboratory and the Computer Assisted Rehabilitation Environment (CAREN system). The data and analyses will support the development of musculoskeletal models and motion capture techniques which can be used to better understand human biomechanics in microgravity. These efforts will ultimately help in the optimization of exercise devices (i.e., countermeasure devices) and exercise regimes used to mitigate bone loss, muscle atrophy, and reduced aerobic capacity in future space exploration missions.

Upon graduation, Kaitlin will transition to full-time employment as a civil servant at the NASA Johnson Space Center.