News

Two DelVal alumni to discuss NASA careers

Courtesy: Debra Bubenheim. Dr. David Bubenheim ’80 and Debra Reiss-Bubenheim ’81 will be discussing their careers with NASA at DelVal.

Apr 01, 2015

Local middle and high school students are invited to DelVal to hear from two married alumni who work for NASA. The presentation will be Thursday, April 9 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Life Sciences Building auditorium on DelVal’s main campus. It will be held the day after Delaware Valley College officially switches to Delaware Valley University. All students are welcome to attend either with groups or, as individuals. Students do not need to register in advance and there is no cost to attend.

Dr. David Bubenheim ’80 and Debra Reiss-Bubenheim ’81 will be sharing with local students the excitement of space exploration and discussing potential careers. They will also present about their personal journeys to NASA and how they have had a chance to apply their backgrounds as plant scientists to some exciting projects during their careers.

Debra Reiss-Bubenheim is the associate chief of the Space Biosciences Division at NASA's Ames Research Center. She is currently on a detail assignment to the Ames Office of the chief scientist. She serves as a project manager and scientist. Reiss-Bubenheim was hired by NASA in 1990 as a payload scientist for the Spacelab Life Sciences-2 mission that flew in 1993. Since then, she has managed the payload science for more than 25 middeck payloads consisting of more than 50 principal investigators. She has received several special recognition awards for her work, both from Ames and also from NASA Headquarters. Prior to joining Ames, she was a research technician at both Purdue University and Utah State University. She also taught in the plant science department at Utah State. Reiss-Bubenheim earned her B.S. in ornamental horticulture from the DelVal and her M.S. in horticulture from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Shannon Lucid check on wheat

Credit: NASA. Shannon Lucid checks on wheat aboard the Russian Space Station, Mir. Dr. Bubenheim was the NASA principal investigator for joint studies with the Russians on growing wheat on the Russian Space Station. DelVal alumni Dr. David Bubenheim ’80 and Debra Reiss-Bubenheim ’81 will be discussing their careers with NASA with area students April 9. 

Dr. Bubenheim earned his B.S. in horticulture from DelVal in 1980. He earned his M.S. in horticulture from Virginia Tech in 1983 and his Ph.D. in crop physiology from Utah State University in 1986.  His graduate work at Utah State and then his postdoctoral work at Purdue University were both funded by NASA for development of plant-based life support systems for space.  For the next 15 years, Dr. Bubenheim conducted research and managed an interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers in development of life support for human settlements.   During this time he achieved world record yields in controlled environment production of crops and was the NASA principal investigator for joint studies with the Russians on growing wheat on the Russian Space Station.  He also developed hybrid power system concepts for Mars utilizing wind turbines. When NASA’s plans for planetary exploration were put on hold, Dr. Bubenheim turned his attention to climate change and effects on ecosystem health, particularly how invasive plant species take advantage of changes in the environment to spread and alter ecosystem function.  He has worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to define plant growth response to climate change and develop simulation models predicting the growth of native and invasive plants.

Read more about the speakers in Horizons, DelVal's magazine