Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Mark Rosekind ’87PhD

Mark Rosekind ’87PhD takes the Metro every day to his new job in Washington, DC. So it was with both personal and professional interest that he asked National Transportation Safety Board members this week how long it will take to transform the Metro safety culture. The answer: it will take years.

Rosekind, newly sworn in as a member of the NTSB, joined a public meeting on the DC Metro collision that killed 9 people and sent 52 others to the hospital last summer. An expert on sleep and fatigue, he was presumably wide awake as the board’s chairwoman reviewed the “anemic safety culture” that put Metro “on a collision course long before” the June 2009 crash.

That rear-end crash did not involve fatigue, which is Rosekind’s expertise. A sleep scientist, Rosekind used to direct the NASA Fatigue Countermeasures Program, where he studied the “NASA nap”—a 40-minute cockpit snooze for pilots—and won the space agency’s Exceptional Service Medal. He also cofounded a consulting firm (clients included Air New Zealand, which wanted to persuade Americans to take more vacations) and is a fellow of the World Economic Forum. “Fatigue has been on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List since its inception in 1990,” Rosekind said at his Senate confirmation hearing last fall. [PDF] Twenty years later, that’s still enough to keep passengers awake at night.

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