Salivary bioscience researcher and Affiliate Faculty at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience Research (IISBR), Peter G. Roma, Ph.D., has accepted a position as Senior Scientist and Director of the Behavioral Health & Performance Laboratory at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, the IISBR announced today. “I look forward to taking on new challenges in a world-class environment and working with so many brilliant and talented people,” says Roma.
Currently, Roma holds a position and is the founding Director of the Applied Behavioral Biology Unit (ABB) at the Institutes for Behavior Resources (IBR). There, he specializes in novel applications of Behavioral Economics and directs the scientific development and daily operations of research on small-group behavior and social neuroscience. He also contributes to IBR’s substance abuse and operational fatigue and performance research.
Roma is also Adjunct Assistant Professor of Behavioral Biology in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and holds collaborative appointments with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas.
As part of several NASA and NSBRI-funded projects, Dr. Roma has recently examined small-group composition factors affecting the trajectories of team cohesion, task performance, and biopsychosocial adaptation over time and in response to operational stressors. Salivary bioscience expertise provided by the IISBR is aiding this research by contributing to the development of non-invasive biomarkers and biobehavioral profiles of team adaptation and performance in isolated, confined, and extreme environments.
Roma’s multidisciplinary work also includes the development of computer-based behavioral assay technology for measurement and behavioral economic modeling of cooperation, productivity, and fairness behaviors in small groups in laboratory and applied settings. Those settings include the European Space Agency’s Concordia Station in Antarctica, the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) facility, NASA’s Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), and Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) facilities.
This appointment comes at a unique and rare time, since NASA has historically operated with limited intramural psychology research programs. Today, however, NASA is increasing focus on the neurobehavioral, psychiatric, social, and performance risks inherent to space exploration and other team-based operational settings, especially for long-duration missions.
“Behavioral neuroscience, behavioral pharmacology, and behavioral genetics are all very relevant and powerful mechanisms that can be further integrated with the cultural, organizational, environmental, social, cognitive, and behavioral levels of analysis. This focus will help us work toward our shared goal of successful human space exploration and performance in complex real-world and other-world environments,” says Roma. “I am honored and thrilled to be a part of the NASA extended family, and look forward to joining my colleagues at JSC soon.”
The IISBR congratulates Dr. Roma on his new appointment and is excited to further assist in current and future collaborations. “Roma’s has been working at the pioneering edge of salivary bioscience and it’s clear that his efforts will make a major difference,” says Douglas A. Granger, PhD., Chancellor’s Professor and Director of the IISBR.
Roma begins his new appointment on July 10, 2017.