Renowned NASA Flight Surgeon to Speak on Aerospace Medicine, Non-medical NASA Careers

April 6, 2023
Dr. Joe Dervay is currently a Flight Surgeon at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

Joseph P. Dervay, MD, MPH, MMS, flight surgeon at NASA Johnson Space Center. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-709-5959
Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

by Lexi Nitishin, student news writer, Baylor University Media & Public Relation

WACO, Texas (April 7, 2023) – Baylor University’s Hillis Scholars Program, with support from the Career Center, will host Joseph P. Dervay, MD, MPH, MMS, a flight surgeon at the NASA Johnson Space Center, for a university-wide talk on the on- and off-Earth experiences, challenges and service of space and operational aerospace medicine at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 13, in Room 506 of the Cashion Academic Center.

“Space is a rapidly expanding field of study and work, and the practice of medicine in space is becoming more important,” said Walter “Sparky” Matthews, MD, clinical professor in the honors program, director of the Hillis Scholars Program and the first Surgeon General of the U.S. Space Force. “Dr. Joe Dervay is one of the nation’s foremost experts in space medicine. As a friend of Baylor, Dr. Dervay is eager to share his experiences and a vision of the future of space with our community of scholars. Baylor students of all disciplines are highly encouraged to come hear this outstanding speaker.”

The Hillis Scholars Program is a community of select pre-medical scholars at Baylor who receive mentoring, guidance and instruction from distinguished Baylor faculty and physicians. The purpose of the Hillis Scholars is to empower and equip pre-med undergraduate students who seek to live purposeful, meaningful lives as physicians. 

Dervay is currently a flight surgeon at the NASA Johnson Space Center, having served there over 27 years. Completing undergraduate studies at Cornell University and a Doctor of Medicine at Syracuse-Upstate Medical Center, he then trained to become a Navy Flight Surgeon, serving aboard the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy.

Dervay has served as crew surgeon for a multitude of missions, encompassing Space Shuttle, long-duration International Space Station and Commercial Crew, including support of the 2020 NASA/SpaceX Demo-2 test flight as the first Commercial Crew mission. His roles have included work in Russia at the Star City Cosmonaut training center and support of crewmembers during Soyuz launch and landing activities in Kazakhstan.

He has completed an Emergency Medicine Residency in Washington D.C. at The George Washington University and both a Space Medicine Fellowship and Aerospace Medicine Residency at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston/NASA and Hyperbaric Medicine training at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Dervay is board certified in Emergency, Aerospace, and Undersea and Hyperbaric Medicine.

In addition to his other work, Dervay co-chairs the Multilateral Medical Operations Panel, comprised of medical representatives from the U.S., Canadian, European, Japanese and Russian space agencies. He completed research on Bubble Nucleation at Altitude during his Master of Medical Sciences degree and has been deeply involved with development of NASA Extravehicular Prebreathe Protocols.

Retiring with the Navy rank of Captain, he completed a combined 35-years of active and reserve service with numerous Navy and Marine Corps units worldwide. Dervay also currently serves as President-Elect of the Aerospace Medicine Association (AsMA), an international professional organization for aerospace medicine, physiology and human performance.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.