•MOST PROMISING scientist - PH.D. •
Lead Cardiovascular and Vision Laboratory
NASA Johnson Space Center
B.A., Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D. in Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology, Texas A&M University
Certificate in Space Life Sciences, National Space Biomedical Research Institute
Dr. Brandon R. Macias’ parents never thought that their son, the first member of our family to attend university, would be traveling to France on a regular basis to coordinate a NASA-funded research project, or to international science conferences to give NASA research updates.
Now, however, as Technical Lead of the Cardiovascular and Vision Laboratory at the NASA Johnson Space Center, he does just that and is primarily responsible for providing direct supervision of a team comprised of 15 contractor scientists, engineers, and nurses, and supervising and organizing CVL research activities. He also works closely with his NASA Technical Monitor to achieve the successful completion of flight, space analog, and ground experiments, as well as executing and reporting these important results.
Dr. Macias’ journey to scientific excellence started with a Summer High School Apprenticeship Research Program internship at NASA’s Ames Research Center which subsequently led to a career at NASA JSC as a senior researcher and scientific leader investigating Spaceflight Associated Neuro-ocular Syndrome (SANS), a top risk to astronauts. His journey required him to gain expertise in multiple areas including molecular & cell biology, orthopedic surgery, bone, kinesiology-exercise physiology, as well as SANS.
Dr. Macias overcame multiple challenges on his quest to become a researcher including familial expectations to follow in his father’s footsteps as a cabinetmaker and being hit by a car while attending the University of California, Berkeley. After graduating with a B.A. in Molecular & Cell Biology from UC Berkeley, he worked as a study coordinator at UC San Diego, where he carried out experiments at UCSD and in France.
Enrolling at Texas A&M University, Dr. Macias then studied the effects of mechanical loading on bone biology. He received a Ph.D. in Kinesiology-Exercise Physiology with a certificate in Space Life Sciences in 2012, followed by an UCSD postdoctoral fellowship. In 2015, he accepted a Senior Scientist position with KBR to support research activities conducted in the Cardiovascular & Vision Laboratory (CVL) at NASA JSC.
Initially Dr. Macias was hired to support two high profile NASA flight studies, “Ocular Health” and “Fluid Shifts” investigating the effects of SANS on astronauts. After the departure of the principal investigator for the Ocular Health study, he stepped up and accepted the PI role. This landmark study was the first flight experiment to investigate changes to the eyes during long-duration microgravity.
Since being appointed to his current position last year, he has collaborated as a co-investigator on over 15 research proposals which have resulted in over 60 peer reviewed publications, one book, five book chapters, and over 160 abstracts.
Along the way, Dr. Macias was recognized with over 30 prestigious awards including Young Researcher Award, Outstanding Alumni (Early Career) honoree at TAMU, KB Rwyle Excellence in Science Award, and an Aerospace Medical Association Fellows Scholarship.
He has mentored and influenced the STEM careers of numerous high school and college students over the past 20 years changing their lives forever and continues to contribute by providing STEM opportunities to minorities.