Collegiate Affiliation

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
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: , University of Maryland, 1967 - none


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