Beth Healey isn’t a typical medical doctor. As well as working on the NHS frontline during the pandemic, Beth has worked in a number of extreme and remote environments including Svalbard, Siberia, Greenland, the North Pole, and Antarctica, where she spent a winter as research MD for the European Space Agency (ESA) exploring the effects of isolation and extreme environment on the physiology and psychology of the crew.
Due to the low temperatures (-80C) and long polar nights (105 days without any sunlight) Beth and the crew were completely isolated, even in case of emergency. The research Beth and her team carried out is being used to help inform space agencies of the challenges future astronauts on long duration spaceflight missions may face, as well as helping to develop medical models required for such missions.
Since returning, Beth has contributed to a Space and Global Health UN specialist interest group considering how we can use space derived technology to solve medical problems on earth, including life support systems, telemedicine and remote diagnostics.
We caught up with Beth to find out how she found herself in Antarctica and discover what she learned about isolation and its effect on humans while there.