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May’s Presentation

Polar Operations: Exploring Health Care in Extreme Environments

Premieres on YouTube Thursday, May 30 at 6 p.m. CST

This month’s installment of the Thought Leader Series delves into Earth’s extremes with “Polar Operations: Exploring Health Care in Extreme Environments,” presented by UTMB Health.

This recording is from a special presentation we hosted on Thursday, May 23 and features a distinguished panel of UTMB experts in polar medical operations, aerospace medicine and human physiology. Our panelists discussed their experiences providing medical care in the world’s most extreme environments and explored the implications of Earth’s weather for life in space.

Join us to discover their experience managing healthcare challenges in harsh conditions and the invaluable lessons they offer for the future of human spaceflight.



Ronak Shah, D.O., MBA, MPH

Dr. Ronak Shah joined The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in 2022 as the Director of the Aerospace Medicine Division. In this role, Shah oversees the Residency in Aerospace Medicine, a training program for physicians specializing in this field. He is board-certified in Aerospace Medicine and Internal Medicine and holds dual Master’s degrees in Public Health and Business Administration. Before joining UTMB, Dr. Shah served as the Medical Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) Clinic for five years.

James J. McKeith, MD, MSHA

James (Jim) McKeith received his B.S. in Biology from the University of California, Riverside and his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. McKeith completed a residency in Emergency Medicine at Los Angeles County/USC Medical Center and is a founding faculty member at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond where he served as Medical Director for QI/UA. In his current role at the UTMB, McKeith is responsible for medical care in the U.S. program, which includes the three U.S. science stations, deep field camps and ships at sea.

Craig Kutz, MD, PhD, MPH

Craig Kutz is double-boarded in Emergency Medicine and Undersea/Hyperbaric Medicine, having completed his residency and fellowship at UC San Diego. In October 2023, Kutz worked with the UTMB Center for Polar Medical Operations at McMurdo Station as part of the NSF US Antarctic Program. He is currently enrolled in the Aerospace Medicine program at UTMB.

About the series

Ignite your curiosity and grow your passion for space and science at our monthly Thought Leader Series. The best and brightest minds examine the significance of historic missions, share the latest news in space exploration and look ahead to the future of space travel. This immersive series takes guests beyond our walls to provide inspiring, engaging and educational learning experiences.

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Moon 2 Mars Festival is back!

Tickets on sale now | March 13 - 16

The All-American Rejects are throwing Space Center Houston’s Moon 2 Mars Festival into hyperdrive. Amp up your Space City Spring Break with us!

Access to this all-ages festival is included in general admission.