Raymond Wheeler, NASA Exploration Research and Technology, USA

Ray Wheeler is a plant physiologist and senior scientist in NASA’s Exploration Research and Technology Directorate at Kennedy Space Center, where he has led the advanced life support and plant research groups. This includes controlled environment studies with crops for food and oxygen production, CO2 removal, and wastewater processing. Part of this work included plant testing in NASA’s Biomass Production Chamber, one of the first vertical farms in the world. Over the years, Ray has studied plant responses to gravity, CO2, light, atmospheric pressure, and hydroponic crop cultivation. Ray has been co-investigator for several spaceflight experiments, including the first test to demonstrate potato tuber development in space, and studies using the “Veggie” and Advanced Plant Habitat growth chambers to grow fresh vegetables for the astronauts on the International Space Station. Ray is the author or co-author of more than 270 scientific research papers and has presented 65 domestic and 30 international invited talks. He has received NASA’s Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, the USDA/ARS B.Y. Morrison Distinguished Lecturer Award, the American Society for Gravitation and Space Research Founder’s Award, the AIAA Jeffries Award for Aerospace Medicine and Life Science Research, and served as a Main Scientific Organizer and Vice Chair for the Life Sciences Commission of COSPAR, the International Committee on Space Research.