During his undergraduate studies, Kevin Shimkus gained a strong interest in the study of skeletal muscle and wet lab research. Kevin decided to couple that with his fascination of spaceflight and came to pursue his doctorate at the College of Education & Human Development at Texas A&M University, where he studies in Dr. James Fluckey’s Muscle Biology Laboratory.
"Space is the hardest condition we've ever known as a human race,” he said. “If we can answer questions on how to maintain muscle mass up there, that will undoubtedly work here."
Kevin’s key interest is to better understand the mechanisms through which skeletal muscle is synthesized and lost. While loss of muscle mass and function is an obvious concern for long duration spaceflight, Kevin would also like to draw comparisons to other muscle-wasting scenarios, such as aging, disease, or disuse. It is his strong belief that a better comprehension of basic muscle physiology could someday contribute to minimizing muscle losses in these situations and improve quality of life for several populations, including astronauts.
"Space is the hardest condition we've ever known as a human race. If we can answer questions on how to maintain muscle mass up there, that will undoubtedly work here." - Kevin Shimkus, Kinesiology Ph.D. candidateTweet This
With the support of the Department of Health & Kinesiology and the Space Life Sciences Fellowship program, Kevin is involved in the muscle aspects of two major research projects associated with spaceflight: a study looking at the musculoskeletal effects of multiple missions of weightlessness, and a second looking at the effects of lunar and Martian gravities on the musculoskeletal system. Kevin hopes to make the most of his time at Texas A&M University to gain a better grasp of muscle physiology and to help bring pertinent countermeasures to better maintain muscle mass.