Modern-day Explorer to Kick Off Fall Artist-Lecture Series

Astronaut, pilot, physician, mountaineer, explorer, inventor, researcher, SCUBA diver, Olympian, Eagle Scout - all those terms describe the first speaker for Midwestern State University's Artist-Lecture Series. Dr. Scott Parazynski will kick off the 52nd season of the popular series at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016.

Parazynski currently has the cool title of University Explorer & Professor of Practice within the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University. A graduate of Stanford University and Stanford Medical School, Parazynski went on to train at Harvard and in Denver for a career in emergency medicine and trauma. He has published numerous articles in the field of space physiology with particular expertise in human adaptation to stressful environments.

Parazynski knows stressful environments. He has flown on five shuttle missions and conducted seven spacewalks, traveling more than 23 million miles in orbit. As a shuttle crew member, he served as medical officer, flight engineer, lead spacewalker, assembly and maintenance worker, operator of robotic arms, and more. Since leaving the space agency in 2008, he has worked in senior leadership positions in both the aerospace and medical research industries, and has been instrumental in the development of numerous medical devices and other technologies for supporting life in extreme environments.

He began climbing mountains in his teens, and has since climbed in the Alaska Range, the Cascades, the Rockies, the Alps, the Andes, and the Himalayas. His first attempt to climb Mount Everest was cut short by an injury but his second attempt in May 2009 was a success, making him the first astronaut to stand on top of the world.

He has logged more than 2,500 flight hours as a commercial, multiengine, seaplane, and instrument-rated pilot. He has traveled widely across the most remote continent on earth - Antarctica - as the founding director and chief medical officer of University of Texas Medical Branch's Center for Polar Medical Operations where he oversaw the medical screening and on-ice care of the National Science Foundation's U.S. Antarctic Program.

In addition to being a lifelong SCUBA diver, he was also a Top 10 competitor in the 1988 U.S. Olympic Luge Team trials and coach for the Philippines during the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games. He was selected as a honorary captain of the 2010 U.S. Olympic Luge Team for the Vancouver Games.

He is the recipient of a number of prestigious awards, including five NASA Spaceflight Medals, two NASA Distinguished Service Medals, two NASA Exceptional Service Medals, the Antarctica Service Medal, the Ellis Island Family Heritage Award, the Gold Medal from the American Institute of Polish Culture, the National Eagle Scout Association's Outstanding Eagle Award, and the Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club.

The busy fall Artist-Lecture Series season continues Oct. 18 with Breaking Bad's RJ Mitte, who is also an ambassador for adults and children with disabilities. Artist and performer Kip Fulbeck will be on campus Nov. 11. In conjunction with his Artist-Lecture appearance, the Juanita Harvey Art Gallery will host an exhibit of Fulbeck's HAPA Project - his photos of mixed race people. Hapa refers to people of mixed ethnic heritage. On Nov. 15, Native American attorney Walter Echo-Hawk will speak.

The Artist-Lecture Series was established in 1964 to bring noted lectures and quality programs in the performing arts to the MSU campus and the Wichita Falls community.

Admission is $20 to general public; $18 for senior citizens, active-duty military, and MSU alumni; free to MSU students with ID. Tickets are available at the Clark Student Center Information Desk two weeks prior to the event.

For tickets or more information, contact the Office of Student Affairs at (940) 397-7500 or student.affairs@msutexas.edu.