City doctor reaches for the stars

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

City doctor reaches for the stars

AMount Gambier medical practitioner has doctored an ‘out of this world’ creation which is now available Australia wide.

Mount Gambier hospital resident Doctor Vienna Tran has published a deck of cards with fun facts about space called ‘The Solar System: an illustrated guide to our home in space’.

Dr Tran was writing for news website Space Australia when she was approached by Melbourne publisher Smith Street Books.

“I’m really glad that this opportunity landed in my lap, because the way life is now with being a doctor, I do not know how else I would have gotten into writing,” she said.

“I did want to write a book, I want to write more books, but this one was a great debut for me.

“It’s a vehicle for me to share my love for space and astronomy.

“(It is a) credit to the scientists and engineers that have discovered so much already, but to be able to do justice to the knowledge they have contributed and condense it into 200-250 words on a card was tricky.”

Dr Tran said she first discovered her passion for space when she visited The Heights Observatory in Adelaide with her father at five years old.

“I was fascinated by the fact the stars and the moon were so far away, but we could also use various technologies to look at them up close and study them,” she said.

“My dad was really science orientated and he taught me a lot of maths and science on our car rides or when we would go down to feed the ducks and that sort of thing, so science was a big part of my life and particularly space.

“I think there is just something about it that it feels so unreachable, but also poses a challenge to us to explore it.

“I wanted to be an astronomer when I was younger and it was only in my last years of high school that I questioned that and wondered whether I should do something different to help people.”

Dr Tran said while she studied a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Adelaide, her love of space remained.

“While I was studying medicine, space was still dormant and it was still my first love,” she said.

“It took a long time for me to realise that space medicine was a field I could go into, it’s something that combines my love of space with my love of health and helping people.

“A space doctor can be anyone who works in the field of keeping astronauts healthy pre, during and post flight, as well as researching what happens to the body in a space flight environment.

“It’s actually quite broad, it can be anything from research purely to going into space myself and at this point I’m open to all of those options.”

Dr Tran has a Bachelor of Health and Medical Sciences (Honours) in which she undertook a study sponsored by NASA and the European Space Agency to help research the effects of microgravity on the gluteal muscles.

“I have done a bit of research already and it’s given me a good window into what it’s like to be a space doctor,” she said.

“I would love to pursue more research. I am still doing a research project with the same team at the moment looking at mapping the gluteal muscles more closely via MRI scans.

“Not only will that help with muscle degradation in space but also the growing number of people with muscle issues and strength issues on earth.”

Dr Tran is also a volunteer and previous student at South Australian Space School and has worked at the Australian Space Discovery Centre and Australian Space Agency.

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