Who am I?
My name is Amy Capener and I recently completed the final year of my undergraduate degree in Sports Science at Oxford Brookes University. I hold an offer for one of the twelve places available on the unique MSc Space Physiology and Health at King’s College London, commencing September 2017.
Why have I chosen crowdfunding?
I have been investigating ways to fund my postgraduate studies and was inspired by an existing fundraiser, whose situation and experiences resonate with my own. Access to education has transformed my life to date and I am extremely encouraged by the generosity of people and their willingness to support others and help them realise their aspirations.
What will I/you/we gain from my time at King’s?
Space physiology is the study of how the human body works in space. This could be in a microgravity environment, like that on board the International Space Station, or a partial gravity environment, such as Mars or the Moon. So far, we know that spending several months in space can result in a loss of bone and muscle mass, a decline in muscle strength, structural and functional changes of the heart, and more… By understanding how the body responds to these environments, we can better support astronauts’ health in space and ensure safer space exploration
A crucial aspect of physiological research in space is that it can be directly applied to clinical environments on Earth and can assist with the understanding and treatment of disease. Bed-rest studies involve people lying down for months and are used to mimic the effects of microgravity. These studies have provided extensive information on bone and muscle wasting and changes in the cardiovascular system associated with removing gravitational forces from the body. The results of these studies have benefitted bed-bound patients, persons who have lost the use of a limb, and elderly patients, who often suffer from bone disorders, by enabling us to develop effective countermeasures.
My interest is in how the brain can influence muscle wasting, and how oxidative enzymes, responsible for the rate of energy produced in the muscle, alter when gravity is removed from the body. Equally, I am interested in how oxygen transport in the blood vessels can limit fitness in space.
This MSc programme is the only one of its kind in Europe. Completing it will furnish me with the skills necessary for planning and carrying out research that will benefit both spacefaring and terrestrial humans. Therefore, your contribution will assist the advancement of physiology in space and make a real difference in supporting and improving human space exploration i.e. getting humans to Mars!
The financial bit...
The estimated cost of my year in London is £32,426. This estimation is based on tuition fees, course supplies, rent, transport, and living expenses.
I am eligible for a partial postgraduate loan, and have applied for both an external and internal scholarship to help cover costs. I will know the outcome of these applications from July at the earliest. I have removed these figures from the estimate regardless, in addition to the amount I can realistically earn from employment whilst studying full-time, which leaves me with £13,626 to source.
However much you feel you can contribute will be greatly appreciated, and I thank you in advance for your generosity.
Finally, I want to inspire…
Attending university was not always something I thought I would be able to do, as a young woman from a single-parent family with low economic status. Additionally, I completed alternative qualifications to A-levels, which were not widely accepted by universities. Thanks to Oxford Brookes for recognising these qualifications and the student loans company for providing the means for me to study, I have achieved my ambition of obtaining an undergraduate degree and I will graduate as one of the highest achieving students. This single opportunity has led to a cascade of events, including a full scholarship from the UK and European space agencies to study at the International Space University this summer and ultimately the offer of a place at King’s College London.
The journey has been turbulent but more than worthwhile. Past struggles with mental illness mean that completing this MSc is not only a way for me to contribute to humanity; it is a statement against the stigma of mental illness; it is an assurance to others that your circumstances do not define your limitations; and it is a way for me to inspire and empower others who feel like I used to… that these experiences are beyond their reach.