UCL Department of Space and Climate Physics

Dr Iya Whiteley

Dr Iya Whiteley

Principal Research Associate Deputy Director of the Centre for Space Medicine

Dept of Space & Climate Physics

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st May 2014

Research summary

  • iViewExpert for NHS: 

Adapting a method from Human-Space-Flight, Civil and Military Aviation, to externalise surgeons’ expertise in complex technical tasks, for transfer to surgical trainees; developing an educational tool to uncover the ‘unconscious competence’ of expert together with a team of surgeons at the NHS Highland in Inverness, Prof Kenneth G Walker, Director of Scotland Surgical Boot Camps & Highland RGH Boot Camps (holistic induction courses) and Dr Vivienne Blackhall

  • iViewExpert for transfer of technical expertise: 

Using a video-cued recall and debrief method from astronaut, pilot and firefighter training, to understand and transfer technical medical expertise.

  • ESA iVOICE study: fatigue detection in astronauts via voice analysis:

    • https://business.esa.int/projects/ivoice

  • ESA VULCAN study: astronauts well-being detection via voice and conversation content analysis.

  • ESA CET-IO: Expert Tool to Support Crew Autonomous Operations in Complex Human Spacecraft

  • ESA EPSILON study: Tools for Psychological Support of Astronauts to the Moon and Mars:

Defining a range of tools aimed at providing psychological support to the crew during long-duration exploration missions. The investigation started from identifying the type of issues the crew will need to deal with. Then groups of interacting factors were systematically identified within the Psychological Issues Matrix (i.e. Psy-Matrix), which trigger the issues. The existing astronaut psychological support model was extended and the Embedded Psychological Support Integrated for LONg-duration missions (EPSILON) was defined. A new model of psychological support model of astronauts proposed. 

Teaching summary

  • University College London, UCL short courses
    • Human Factors in Risk, Reliability and Resilience in Engineering Management
  • University College London, MSc Technology Management
    • Aviation and Space Human Factors
  • University College London
    • Human Rated Space Systems
  • King's College London, Space Physiology & Health, MSc
    • Space Psychology
    • Tools for Psychological Support of Astronauts during long duration missions to the Moon and Mars 


Dr Iya Whiteley - Space Psychologist, Director of the Centre for Space Medicine at Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL 

The curiosity about how we can perform in extreme circumstances and exceed our own expectations, lead Iya to learn how to fly, skydive, scuba dive, among other hobbies, and study psychology and computer science – the cross disciplinary area now termed, Human Factors and Cognitive Engineering. Iya lead projects to develop EPSILON (Embedded Psychological Support Integrated for LONg-duration missions) toolset for exploration expeditions to the Moon and Mars; to design CET IO (Crew Expert Tool) to resolve innovatively challenges in a highly technical and alien environment while voyaging to Mars, when there is no live communication link with Earth. Prior to developing Human Behaviour Performance course for the new European Astronauts in Cologne, Iya was teaching human factors to engineers, designing military cockpits, selecting crew from over 70 nationalities for Emirates Airlines and working on understanding why in military environment experts speaking the same language do not understand each other. Now, working as a Director at the Centre for Space Medicine, Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London, Iya has been instrumental in developing collaboration activities between Russia, United States and UK, in particular, the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre and NASA’s National Space Biomedical Research Institute.
International Space Medicine Summit 2020 Session 7 - YouTube at Rice University, Baker Institute, US (Iya Whitely)

Public Engagement

Iya is yearly requested as a public speaker by the Royal Institution, the New Scientist Live, the Wellcome Trust and the TV Presenter on BBC Science Expert and Presenter (6 episodes): Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? which run three times due to its public demand since its production.

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