NASA’s Scott Smith to present 'How Nutrition Fuels Human Space Flight'

October 12, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Scott M. Smith, manager for Nutritional Biochemistry at the NASA Johnson Space Center and a Penn State alum, will present “How Nutrition Fuels Human Space Flight” at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22, as part of the Health and Human Development Alumni Society Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series.

The talk will be held in the Ruth Pike Auditorium, 22 Biobehavioral Health Building on the University Park campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The Nutritional Biochemistry Lab at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, is responsible for promoting astronauts' health by determining the nutritional requirements for spaceflight. Scott and his team determine the number of calories, vitamins and nutrients needed to maintain optimum health while in space. Activities include the assessment of nutritional status of crewmembers on missions to the International Space Station, along with ground-based and spaceflight research efforts.

Smith joined the lab in 1992 and has directed the lab since 1994, leading experiments, both on the ground and in space, aimed at improving astronaut nutrition.

Smith, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1985 and doctoral degree in nutrition in 1990, both at Penn State, is the principal investigator for ongoing spaceflight experiments on the International Space Station. His research centers on the role of nutrition in astronaut health, including specific studies evaluating bone loss and vision changes, among others.

Additionally, Smith has led several ground-based research projects, including studies of vitamin D in Antarctica.

Smith has published more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, chapters and reviews. He has co-authored two textbooks, and a third book titled “Space Nutrition,” designed for upper elementary and middle school students. He is also co-chair of the Multilateral Medical Operations Panel - Nutrition Working Group, which includes representatives of the 5 ISS partner space agencies from Canada, Europe, Japan, Russia, and the United States.

Smith is a member of the American Society for Nutrition, the American Physiological Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics. He received the American Astronautical Society Space Life Sciences Award in 2014.

The Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series was established by the Board of Directors of the College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society in order to feature prominent graduates of the college who are leaders in their fields. The board's mission is to facilitate and promote the participation of alumni in activities that support the college's pursuit of excellence.

The Penn State Alumni Association will also present the Alumni Fellow Award to Smith on Oct. 21 for his outstanding professional accomplishments. This is the highest award presented by the association.

During his visit, Smith will meet with students and faculty members in the Department of Nutritional Sciences as well as attend a student luncheon with the Women’s Leadership Initiative.

For additional information, contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831, or visit

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 19, 2015