Dr. Katherine (Katt) Rahill is the Senior Scientist for the Office of the Chief Scientist of NASA's Human Research Program (HRP) at Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX. She provides direct support and expert recommendations to the Chief Scientist relating to all scientific elements of the HRP program. She leads assessments to inform NASA’s decisions concerning approaches and strategies to mitigate the risk of deleterious physiological effects associated with long duration spaceflight. Her work entails monitoring research on human health and performance risks in NASA astronauts and providing strategic planning of integrated approaches to reduce those risks.
Dr. Rahill received her MA & PhD from The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She is the Founder/Director of CUA's Lunar Psychophysics Virtual Reality Laboratory. Her dissertation introduced a novel area of specialization, "lunar psychophysics", which considers a range of visual, neurological and physiological components of sensory perception and their relationship to optical properties of light, atmospheric light scattering, and psychophysics in extraterrestrial lunar environments. She is also a NASA Astronaut Applicant.
As a Preeminent Postdoctoral Scholar of Industrial Engineering at the University of Central Florida, her transformative work placed in NASA's top 3 Postdoctoral Projects for Human Space Exploration. She received the APA Briggs Dissertation of the Year in Applied-Experimental/Engineering Psychology. Her M.A. in Human Factors was likewise award-winning in her introduction of a new Personally Adaptive Virtual Environment (The PAVE Model – in press) that received the APAGS Junior Scientist Fellowship Grant.
Moving forward, Dr. Rahill's Lunar Psychophysics work presented an interdisciplinary perspective in considering the assumptions of Rayleigh, Mie theory, and complex particle light scattering (CPLS) models and their relevance to the ecological/biological structures of human perception on Earth and the Moon. Findings more fully elucidated the role of the visual system in relation to other biological systems to determine the extent to which humans can adapt and respond to new forms of physical stimuli in extraterrestrial planetary environments. Her research has also been highlighted in The UK Times, Singularity University's "How One Researcher is Using VR to Help Our Eyes Adapt to Seeing in Space" and DC Radio Sputnik.
During graduate school, Dr. Rahill completed a 5-year Consortium Doctoral Fellowship at the U.S. Army Research Institute in Ft. Belvoir, VA. She played a pivotal role in the ongoing development of the US Army Command Climate research program combating issues related to unit performance, such as toxic leadership and sexual assault. She participated in the U.S. Army Chief of Staff SSG review of Sikorsky's contract for Military and Presidential aircraft. Notably, her work on ethical leadership in the U.S. Army was awarded the Society of Military Psychology travel grant by the American Psychological Association to present her work at the 2018 APA conference. Her ongoing work serving as the 2021 Communications Committee Chair and a graduate of the Military Psychology Society of Leadership Program has led to her spearheading a new transformative social media platform for APA Military Psychologists.
In the last two years of her PhD, she introduced two student chapters at CUA: the Society of Military Psychology and Association for Psychological Science. She received the CUA Department of Psychology Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Award for her ongoing lead role in curriculum development for a series of new 400 level Applied-Experimental Labs in the University's department.
Dr. Rahill received her Bachelors of Science from the University of Dayton in May 2013. As an undergraduate, she conducted research at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH, where she was a lead contractor of the Multi-Modal Communications Lab in the Battlespace Acoustics Branch/Warfighter Interface Division/711th Human Performance Wing. In recognition for her contributions, she received the US Air Force Challenge Coin of Excellence in Leadership through Research, Education and Consultation for Human Performance. In addition, she spent 3 years doing clinical research on domestic violence and re-victimization in the Women's Psychology Lab, and received a department nomination for the Reverend Raymond Roesch Award of Excellence to the Outstanding Students in Psychology.