Biography of Paul Webb

Dr. Paul Webb is a research scientist and consultant who has done extensive research in aerospace and undersea medicine. He received his M.D. from the University of Virginia in 1943, and his MS in physiology from the University of Washington in 1951. He served in the U. S. Army from 1948 to 1950, and worked at the Air Force Aeromedical Laboratory from 1954 to 1958. In 1959 he founded Webb Associates, a research company in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Webb Associates performed several major studies for the United States Department of Agriculture, the Office of Naval Research, and the Air Force. While conducting research for the Office of Naval Research Webb developed an interest in protective clothing for dangerous environments, and with support from NASA began to work on an elastic space activity suit which reduced the physical energy cost to the wearer.

During this period Webb also designed and built his own suit calorimeter, a device for measuring the heat given off by the human body. Webb's calorimeter design emerged from his study of the kind of device used to cool astronauts while they were moving around outside their spacecraft. Webb's calorimeter consisted of a water-cooled undergarment worn next to the skin, three layers of insulating garments to isolate the subject's body and the undergarment from the surrounding environment, a "water loop" to control the flow and temperature of water through the undergarment, and an array of equipment, including an early computer, to test and control experiment variables. By monitoring the temperature of water passing out of the undergarment the calorimeter could measure the heat given off by the subject (i.e., the energy used). The suit could also be used to manipulate the subject's body temperature, as Webb did during his study of body heat loss for the Navy. Suit calorimeters like Webb's are the smallest variety of these machines - other versions are compartments or small rooms in which the subject remains alone for extended periods of time. Tests using Webb's suit calorimeter were performed in a special temperature-controlled apartment, and the subject was attached to an "umbilical cord" containing the calorimeter's various cords and tubes, but otherwise could engage in (relatively) normal activities and social interaction.

Webb closed his lab in 1982 and moved to France with his calorimeter for a short time to perform experiments at Hopital Bichat in Paris. From 1984 to 1988 he was employed by companies and universities in Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden. During this period he completed the book Human Calorimeters, which was published in 1985. Since 1993 Dr. Webb has served various academic appointments at Andrews University in Dayton, the University of Minnesota, and the University of Wollongong in Australia, and he has worked for Honeywell International, a diversified technology company in Torrance, California.

Dr. Webb is the recipient of many awards for his work, including the AILSA award from the Aerospace Industrial Life Sciences Association, and the Fritz J. Russ Award in bioengineering. He is also a fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering, and the Aerospace Medical Association. Dr. Webb is currently Clinical Professor of Community Health (Aerospace Medicine) and Research Professor of Biomedical, Industrial and Human Factors Engineering at Wright State University. He is also a member of the team of experts at the Webb Elastic Garment Group, a company which is still developing Webb's Space Activity Suit design. The Group's website is at www.elasticspacesuit.com.