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The Full Story

Kristi Acuff received her Master’s in Environmental Management with an emphasis in Global Sustainability from Western Colorado University in 2020. She leveraged every opportunity to study the space environment in each course. Applying assignments to outer space provided a novel look at the industry and challenges presented to humanity. These studies further kindled her dream to one day visit the space environment, ultimately desiring to view the planet from distances as great as the Moon.

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Earlier in life, Kristi followed her curiosity of questioning the human body's ability to turn food into fuel. Sparked by an adolescent career in soccer, she was determined to learn about the metabolic pathways that energized the body. Entering the University of New Mexico directly after high school, she was able to declare her major in Nutrition and Dietetics with a decisiveness many college-freshmen do not experience. Kristi chose electives in Sustainability alongside UNM's Nutrition curriculum. The combination of studying nutrition and sustainability revealed many aspects of the United States’ shortcomings in the food supply as well as deep-rooted problems in societal systems.

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Kristi decided to begin a life of travel and exploration after earning her Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics in 2011. She visited friends across the United States eventually ending up in Alaska. Here, she settled into a grind to pay off student loans and established a home base. Her passion for sustainability led her back to New Mexico to attend the Earthship Biotecture Academy in Taos and began dreaming of building her own self-sustaining home. In the midst of creating a life, the insatiable curiosity and desire for adventure never dissipated. Her childhood dream occupation resurfaced.

 

At 26 years young, Kristi Acuff still wanted to be an astronaut.

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The path to becoming an astronaut, clearly mapped out two decades ago, now has various routes. Technological and commercial advancements, diverse orbital use, research in space, and propelling humankind towards becoming a multiplanetary species are all tasks ensuring diversification of an astronaut's skillset. Kristi set herself to follow any leads to space that perked her ears: weaving through the US Space and Rocket Center’s Adult Space Camp, self-educating in introductory engineering courses, and signing up for any chance to expand her outer space network. These efforts resulted in Master’s degree, a position on the Board of Directors at the Gunnison Valley Observatory, becoming an Affiliated Researcher for the Space Enabled Research Group at MIT's Media Lab, seeking analogue astronaut openings, and employment in Isolated, Confined, and Extreme environments. Kristi continues searching for opportunities to bolster her resume and experience to become a strong candidate for an astronaut program. 

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