The interview was conducted via Skype and the panel consisted of:
- Kim Binstead, University of Hawaii,
- Jean Hunter, Cornell University
- Bryan Caldwell, Cornell University
- Dean Eppler, Johnson Space Center Desert RATS program
No surprises in the composition of the panel. Cornell and Hawaii are the host institutions for HI-SEAS, and NASA is the primary sponsor of the study. As I had worked with Jean Hunter in my time at the Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS), she recused herself from the interview.
Below are the questions I was asked during the interview and a summary of my answers, paraphrased to the best of my memory.
What do you hope to gain from this experience?
My answer for this question involved examples on how experiencing a long duration isolation simulation first hand would be useful for my future research and career. I cited several examples such as the crew "mutinies" during the Skylab and Salyut projects where ground controllers had unreasonable expectations of the crews as they had never experienced the situation for themselves.
What do you believe you can bring to the project?
Here I focused primarily on my multidisciplinary nature, and experience in analog simulations through the Mars Desert Research Station.
What are you doing now / can you explain for me why your resume stops in December 2011?
I've been unemployed for the past few months, ever since graduating with my Masters degree in December. In my answer I discussed the reason for this, the 89 job applications I had filled out so far, and my plans for the immediate future.
Describe a time when you failed, and how you dealt with it?Do you have anything else you'd like to say to the selection committee?
This question was the one where I felt most inadequate in my answer. When the question was asked, the interviewer added a footnote referring to health situations, but my mind was already crafting an answer to the question, so my answer came out a little jumbled.
What they were probably looking for was an answer related to my experience as an EMT-Basic, but my answer primarily involved some failures and problems encountered while doing event management. Not a horrible mess up, but probably my weakest answer of the interview.Your experiment involves the voluntary participation of the participants. If someone suddenly decides not to participate, what will you do?
Without going into detail, my experiment requires all participants to cooperate with the data collection. If they suddenly decide to opt out, the experiment is a lot less harder to complete.
However as I brought up in my answer this does not mean that participants dropping out of the experiment mid way through the simulation would be a failure, as this would be a useful data point to use in analyzing stress factors and mitigation efforts in isolated environments.Do you have any questions for the panel?
My main question for the panel was about the habitat construction and design. I had some concerns that no photos or diagrams of the habitat had been posted online yet, and asked them some questions along these lines. Not sure if I am allowed to reveal the answers yet, but I was assured that yes there will be a habitat and we won't just be locked in a broom closet at the University of Hawaii.
*insert generic answer about it being an honor to be considered and thanking the committee for their consideration*
Shortly before the interview we all received a reminder email about the interview from Kim Binstead stating:
Based on the application you submitted, you are highly qualified for this analog mission. Therefore, the primary purpose of the interview is to assess your fit for this particular crew, not to review your qualifications as such.From the email, I was expecting more questions tailored toward my experiment, (more on that in a later post) but there was only one mention of it in the interview. I surmise from this that my experiment write up was detailed enough that they had a good idea what I wanted to do without needing additional details. Also since they mention that many projects were incompatible, but did not ask me for alternate ideas or if revisions would be possible, my project was likely in line with their goals.
One of the items we would like to talk about is your project. Many of the proposed projects are not suitable, typically because they confound the primary study. This will not be held against you as a candidate, but it is something we need to resolve before the mission. Please be open to discussing significant revisions to your proposed work.
Comparing notes with another finalist, (Ryan Kolbrick, Director of Yuri's Night) these questions were the same for each finalist, with a few "custom" questions based on the resume or experiment.
According to the timeline we were given the final selections should be announced sometime today (Thursday) or tomorrow. Will tweet and blog as soon as I know! *fingers crossed*