Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Rowley

Dr. Dudley-Rowley was part of the Astrosociology Working Group’s inception and signed on for two reasons: 1) as a show of solidarity for Dr. Jim Pass, who is a fellow member in another group to which we belong, the American Sociological Association (ASA), and 2) because I have been a multidisciplinary sociologist, long working on concerns of extreme environments and outer space production, and know by the now the importance of the social sciences to long-duration space exploration. My interest in groups functioning in extreme environments began as a young soldier with the 172nd Arctic Light Infantry Brigade in Alaska, the same outfit now called “Stryker Brigade.” With the 172nd, I was a gender-heterogeneous Army pioneer, the first woman soldier trained as a combat mountaineer in the Chugach Mountains. I wrote a feature article about my experiences and came to the attention of our Deputy Post Commander, H. Norman Schwarzkopf, which saw me coming to work for him as an editor of the 172nd’s magazine about the rugged Alaska training environment. After my active tour-of-duty, I went to work with the civilian news media and founded a public relations firm and a twin NGO headquartered out of Fairbanks, but which came to have several field locations Outside. I worked closely with the Alaska Congressional delegation on tailoring federal legislation, namely the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). A year or two later, in part because of the media and political ties I had forged regarding the public lands legislation of Alaska and other western states, Dr. Louis Dupree and I were able to spearhead the rescue and relocation with State Department and related resources of about 1,000 Kara Kirghiz from the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the Turkey-Iran border country near Lake Van. After these and other projects, I returned to graduate school in earnest. I finished a Master’s degree in English, finished a second Master’s degree in geoarchaeology and remote sensing, which meant becoming skilled in planetary sciences topics and methods. As the 1980s played out, my media and public relations company and its twin NGO evolved into the think tank, OPS-Alaska. OPS is an acronym meaning “Oceanic, Polar, and Space.” Working as a planetary scientist, I made geographic discoveries of shoaling zones in the Chukchi Sea, and attributed catastrophic palaeostream channeling to volcanism on the Seward Peninsula that was later found in the field to be so. I surmised that the latter was an Arctic analog of the type of catastrophic channeling that we see on Mars. By the late 1980s, I had become a member of a NASA panel of people from Academe who were interested in space sciences. But, before I finished chasing down the money to carry out a research project concerning polar analogs of potential Mars hydrological features, my Ph.D program in sociology and social psychology came through at The University of South Carolina. So, after 15 years in Alaska, I returned to the state of my birth. How did I jump from planetary sciences concerns to sociology and social psychology? Since I entered that realm through archaeology, as an archaeologist, I had become interested in the social part of what I was seeing in the ground and from the air and space. I realized back then that humans are an important variable in their own ecology. I worked as a researcher, adjunct professor, and mental health clinician and program manager during my doctoral years, in addition to my Ph.D class work and research. I studied the Exxon Valdez and other disasters, I devised a methodology for the Government of Kuwait to assess atrocities and property damages for an international tribunal following the Gulf War , I built on the “ecological approach” of Dr. Irwin Altman who had made studies for the U.S. Navy submarine fleet to create a measure of social states among groups in contained, extreme environments, and I began to devise a methodology to explore the relationship among dysfunction and crew composition in terms of social heterogeneity, size of crew, duration of mission, and mission elapsed time intervals of space and polar explorers. Nearing my graduation with my Ph.D, I was funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate the latter inquiry. Among my findings is the first quantitative depiction of the largely anecdotal “Third-Quarter Phenomenon” – why it is sometimes reported to happen and sometimes not. I went to Russia to work on a space station simulation with the Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) as the late 1990s played out. And, in 1999, in recognition for the research I was doing regarding human performance in extreme environments, I was finally admitted into the active selection files for astronaut mission specialist candidate at Johnson Space Center. My admittance owes thanks to the intersession of Mr. George Abbey. I was the first sociologist ever permitted into those files, sociologists having expressly been barred from the astronaut application process before. I remained in those files through 2002. By the late 1990s, I had sampled enthusiast groups, as well as professional groups like the AIAA and NASA workshops, keen to see the state-of-the-art regarding long-duration space exploration. What I saw bothered me. Most everyone interested in long-duration space exploration seemed disconnected from or else minimized a central tenet of long-duration exploration planning and design: long-term exploration crews are microsocieties. Something else occurred to me as I was interacting with foreign and domestic space executives and as I participated in the enthusiast and professional organizations: various macrosociological infrastructures ideally should be in place to accommodate, connect, and integrate the several parts, avenues, and levels of sustainable long-duration space exploration. My experiences and findings have taught me that the solutions to the problems of long-duration space exploration, among other things, involve: 1) transnational strategies and funding, 2) mission planning and design from the comprehensive human factors approach , and 3) getting sociologists and other social scientists engaged in issues of space production. My recent AIAA Space 2006 paper “Sustainability Public Policy Challenges of Long-Duration Space Exploration” (AIAA-2006-7489) summarizes the obstacles to sustainability of long-duration space exploration. Rather than just continue to give papers about my research that bears on this enterprise, and wanting to have more of an influence on the political end of things, I ran for and was elected to a political office in Sonoma County of California. My planks connected the issues of space exploration and global warming. My intermittent presence on Capitol Hill, my ability to connect to politicians on space and environmental topics in a way that is understandable to them, and the talents of those who network with me within OPS-Alaska are assets for the challenges of the 21st century. I am married to Cosmonaut-Engineer Pablo C. Flores from Mendoza City, Argentina. Memberships include: American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Sociological Association, U.S. Department of Defense Human Factors Engineering Technical Advisory Group, Foreign Service Association of Northern California, Public Diplomacy Alumni Association.”

Broadcast 641 (Special Edition)

Dr. Marilyn Dudley-Rowley and Thomas Gangale were the guests for this special Space Show program to discuss astrosociology and its importance to long term spaceflight. We discussed the need for a paradigm to get the issues we discussed into the engineering and design of spacecraft and policy making. Our two guests also talked about some of the long duration spaceflight issues that we need to be concerned with and how the issues founded in sociology different from typical human factors approaches to humans in space.

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