NOTE TO EDITORS AND NEWS DIRECTORS: Due to heightened airport security,
only ticketed passengers may view the “California Inventors” exhibit. News
media may contact Timothy Taylor, museum curator, at 650/821-6700 for
photos of the exhibit.

NASA psychophysiologist Dr. Patricia Cowings is featured in a new museum
exhibition honoring African-American inventors at San Francisco
International Airport.

San Francisco Airport Museums is featuring Cowings in an exhibit entitled
“California Inventors” beginning this week and running through August. The
photography exhibit will feature 12 African-Americans who have made
contributions to science, medicine and technology in California. It will be
on display in the airport’s Terminal 1 Gate 36 exhibit gallery for ticketed
passengers only.

“I’m very flattered when I’m asked to participate in things like this.
There just aren’t enough African-American women in science and technology,”
said Cowings, director of the Psychophysiology Research Facility at NASA
Ames Research Center in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley. “It is
important to let people know that NASA’s here and what we are doing.”

The exhibit highlights Cowings’ development of a system to combat space
adaptation syndrome and its earthly counterpart, motion sickness. The
patented technology, called the Autogenic-Feedback Training Exercise,
enables pilots, astronauts and some patients with balance disorders to
learn to control their symptoms of nausea and dizziness.

When using the system, an astronaut wears a bodysuit garment designed by
Cowings. The suit measures body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate,
respiration and sweating, and then gives the wearer a read-out of his or
her physiological state. She also created training software that can be
used over the Internet.

Cowings has trained space shuttle astronauts, Russian space station Mir
cosmonauts, search-and-rescue pilots, and military personnel. “We are
looking at what the environment is doing and whether the treatment is
working. Does the sickness affect your performance? Once the symptoms are
relieved, does your performance improve?” Cowings asked.

The airport exhibit also showcases seven other inventors whose innovations
have contributed significantly to the space program, including: Christine
Darden, aerospace engineer at NASA Langley Research Center, Hampton, Va.;
George Carruthers, a research physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory,
inventor of a camera used on the Apollo 16 moon mission; Ayanna Howard, an
artificial intelligence expert at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory,
Pasadena, Calif.; Irene Long, chief medical officer of Spaceport Services
at NASA Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; Vance Marchbanks Jr., an Air Force
colonel who helped design the Apollo moon mission space suit; and retired
astronauts Dr. Mae Jemison and Guion Bluford Jr.

“This is a way of letting people know about the wealth of creativity and
innovations in other communities. Our audience may not be aware of the role
African-Americans have played in aeronautics, chemistry or whatever,” said
Timothy Taylor, curator hourhe San Francisco Airport Museums. “But we
wanted their stories, talents and creativity to carry the day and not their
race.” More information is available at:

Cowings earned her doctorate in psychology from the University of
California, Davis, in 1973 and immediately came to NASA Ames as a National
Research Council post-doctoral associate. She has won the Ames Honor Award
for Excellence, the Candace Award for Science and Technology, and the Ames
Honor Award for Technology Development.

“I was one of three women in my department at Davis and the only brown
person,” Cowings said. “I was also known as the space cadet because I would
encourage everyone to watch all the space launches. When I got to Ames I
knew I was home, I had gotten here. The people here were doing exciting
research, not just thinking or talking about it.”

Cowings cited other African-American women who were pioneers in their field
as her inspiration, including Jemison, the first black woman in space, and
Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lt. Uhura on TV’s ‘Star Trek’
series. “I was planning on being Lt. Uhura I even had the earrings! She was
a breakthrough personality of her time. I couldn’t relate to Spock with his
pointy ears, but I could relate to her,” Cowings said.