Gloria R Leon

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Gloria R. Leon, Ph.D, Professor Emerita, served for 10 years as Director of the Clinical Psychology graduate program at the University of Minnesota, and 7 prior years as Assistant/Associate Director. She continues to carry out research and serve on advisory committees in both space and disaster-related areas. Much of her research has focused on the influence of personality and cultural factors on individual and group functioning. She has conducted extensive space analog research on personality, behavioral functioning, and team processes of different polar expedition groups, studying teams composed of single gender, mixed gender, and cross-national members as an analog for space missions, and continues research in this area. Over a 13 year period, she was co-PI on NASA-funded research on the development and testing of cooling garments for space purposes, with a particular focus on the subjective perception of comfort and thermal status. Dr. Leon collaborated with Russian and Belarus colleagues investigating the psychological status and health attitudes and concerns in a population affected by the Chernobyl disaster; the psychological status of Chernobyl power plant workers; the translation and standardization of the Russian language version of the MMPI-2 and other personality measures. Other research she carried out examined the psychological status of concentration camp survivors and their children; Vietnam veterans; Vietnam nurses. From 2003-2015, Leon served as Chair/Co-Chair of the Psychosocial Task Force of the World Association of Disaster and Emergency Medicine (WADEM); she was a member of the WADEM Board of Directors from 2003-2009, and was re-elected to a new term from 2011-2013. She was invited by the National School of Public Health in Athens to collaborate on a study of the victims of the Summer 2007 fires in Greece, and has organized and conducted two internationally attended psychosocial workshops sponsored by the Athens School on psychosocial response to disasters. From 2004-2007, Leon was a member of the external advisory committee (EAC) of the National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), advising the Neurobehavioral and Psychosocial team. She was also a member of the National Academy of Science (NAS) Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space, Human Behavior and Mental Health panel. Leon was a member of the advisory NAS Institute of Medicine Committee on Medicine in Extreme Environments (CAMMEE), and currently chairs the NASA Human Research Program Standing Review Panel in the Behavioral Health and Performance area. Leon is currently conducting research with Danish military groups in Greenland as an analog for Mars missions.

Educational Background & Specialties

Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: University of Maryland, College Park, MD, 1967.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Clinical and personality psychology
  • Personality assessment
  • Stress and coping in expedition and other extreme environments
  • Expeditions as an analog for astronaut performance during space exploration
  • Physiological design of space suits
  • Gender issues during space flights
  • Psychosocial support in disaster situations
Research & Professional Activities

Professional Activities

  • NASA Human Research Program Standing Review Panel: Advisory , 2009 - present
  • Institute of Medicine Committee on Aerospace Medicine and the Medicine of Extreme Environments: Advisory , 2007 - present
  • National Academy of Sciences Space Studies Board, Steering Committee for the Decadal Survey on Biological and Physical Sciences in Space: Human Behavior and Mental Health Panel: 2009 - 2011
  • World Association of Disaster and Emergency Medicine : Co-Chair, Psychosocial Task Force/Section , 2003 - present
  • World Association of Disaster and Emergency Medicine : Board member , 2003 - 2015
  • NASA Neurobehavioral and Psychosocial Review Panel: Panel member , 2001 - present
  • National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI): External Advisory Committee , 2004 - 2007


  • Physiological design of protective clothing for astronauts: Development of a space suit cooling/warming garment for astronaut space walks, 1995 - 2008
  • Development of a Finger Calorimeter to Indicate General Thermal State of Astronauts Onboard and During EVA: Technological advances to better protect astronauts while engaged in space walks and on long-duration missions to Mars and other planets, March 2003 - March 2006
  • Personality and interpersonal interactions in extreme environments: Coping, decision-making processes. Danish military groups in Greenland , 2012 - present
  • Kjærgaard, A., Leon, G.R., & Venables, N.C. (2015). The “right stuff” for a solo sailboat circumnavigation of the globe. Environment and Behavior, 47, 1147-1171.
  • Kjærgaard, A., Leon, G.R., & Fink, B.A. (2015). Personal challenges, communication processes, and team effectiveness in military special patrol teams operating in a polar environment. Environment and Behavior, 47, 644-666.
  • Leon, G.R., & Venables, N.C. (2015). Fearless temperament and overconfidence in an unsuccessful special forces polar expedition. Aerospace Medicine and Human Performance, 86, 567-570.
  • Kjærgaard, A., Leon, G.R., & Venables, N.C. (2015). The psychological process of reintegration following a nine month/260 day solo sailboat circumnavigation of the globe. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 56, 198-202.
  • Goel, N., Bale, T.L., Epperson, C.N., Kornstein, S.G., Leon, G.R., Palinkas, L.A., Stuster, J.W., & Dinges, D.F. (2014). Effects of sex and gender on adaptation to spaceflight: Behavioral Health considerations. Journal of Women’s Health, 23, 975-986.
  • Koscheyev, V.S., & Leon, G.R. (2014). Space suits. In F. Wang and C. Gao (Eds.). Protective clothing: Managing thermal stress (pp. 171-191). Cambridge U.K.: Woodhead Publishing/Elselvier.
  • Papanikolaou, V., Gadallah, M., Leon, G.R., Massou, E., Prodromitis, G., Skembris, A., & Levett, J. (2013). Relationship of locus of control, psychological distress and trauma exposure in groups impacted by intense political conflict in Egypt. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 28, 423-427.
  • Kjærgaard, A., Leon, G.R., Venables, N.C., & Fink, B.A. (2013). Personality, personal values and growth in military special unit patrol teams operating in a polar environment. Military Psychology, 25, 13-22.
  • Sandal, G.M., & Leon, G.R. (2013). Afterword. From the past to the future. In D.Vakoch (Ed.). On orbit and beyond. Psychological perspectivs on human spaceflight (pp. 297-303). Berlin Heidelberg Germany: Springer-Verlag.
  • Sandal, G.M., & Leon, G.R. (2012). Psychological countermeasures. In A. Chouker (Ed.), Stress challenges and immunity in space (pp. 363-372). Heidelberg Germany: Springer-Verlag.
  • Leon, G.R., Sandal, G.M., & Larsen, E. (2011). Human performance in polar environments. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 31. 353-360.
  • Papanikolaou, V., Leon, G.R., Kyriopoulos, J. , Levett, J., & Pallis, E. (2011). Surveying the ashes: The experience from the 2007 Peloponnese wildfires six months after the disaster. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 26, 79-89.
  • Leon, G.R., Sandal, G.M., Fink, B. & Ciofani, P. (2011). Positive experiences and personal growth in a two-man North Pole expedition team. Environment and Behavior, 43, 710-731.
  • Koscheyev, V.S., Leon, G.R., Coca, A., & Treviño, R.C. (2005). Redirection of biological heat from head to fingers during a body cooling event. Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine, 76, 828-832.
  • Koscheyev, V.S., Leon, G.R., & Coca, A. (2005). Finger heat flux/temperature as an indicator of thermal imbalance with application for extravehicular activity. Acta Astronautica, 57, 713-721.
  • Leon, G.R., & Polusny, M.A. (Eds,) (2004). Special issue: Psychosocial themes. Prehospital and Disaster Medicine, 19, 1-127.
  • Leon, G.R. & Sandal, G. M. (2003). Women and couples in isolated extreme environments: Applications for long-duration missions. Acta Astronautica, 53, 259-267.
  • Leon, G.R. Atlis, M.M., Ones, D, & Magor, G. (2002). A one-year three couple expedition as a crew analog for a Mars mission. Environment and Behavior, 34, 672-700.
  • NASA Certificate of Recognition for the Creative Development of a Technical Innovation - 2004;2010
  • NASA Group Achievement Award to Sex and Gender Report Team, 2014