Meet the Team

by Cynthia Rando

Meet The Sophic Team

Cynthia Rando, CEO & Founder, MS, MBA, CHFP

Cynthia is a Certified Human Factors Professional (CHFP) and the V.P. of the Board of Certification in Professional Ergonomics. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Human Factors Engineering from Clemson University and an MBA from Northeastern University.

Cynthia has worked in human-centered design for over 17+ years. She spent over 15 years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, providing leadership and proactively addressing several critical areas in human factors and human-centered design. The projects which she was involved in include user interface design, ergonomics, safety and risk mitigation strategies, usability and user experience, accident investigation and root cause analyses. Cynthia assisted in the implementation of culture change initiatives and innovative solutions including the U.S. government’s first use of crowdsourcing as a disruptive business model. She also assisted with the development of the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation and the NASA Human Health and Performance Center.

Cynthia’s passion for the propagation of education in human factors principles and human-centered design as a business model is shown throughout her career. She has served as an associate professor at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, providing instruction in human factors and ergonomics course material. Currently, she serves as a trusted advisor and consultant for the Texas Medical Center Innovation Incubator’s medical device startup cohorts and The Texas Committee on Autonomous Systems.

As founder and CEO of Sophic Synergistics, Cynthia brings all of her academic, technical, and professional experience to the table. Along with her team, Sophic provides support to companies in a holistic and human-centered strategy that has never been seen before.

“At the end of the day, your business is our business. We’re here to make sure you succeed.”
-Cynthia Rando

Hailee Aklyan

Human Factors Specialist

Hailee joined Sophic in 2023 as a Human Factors Specialist. Prior to joining the team, she attended the University of Nevada, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Kinesiology in May 2020, and the University of Idaho, where she earned a Master of Science degree in Experimental Psychology with Emphasis in Human Factors in May 2023. 

She is excited to work closely with our aerospace clients where she can showcase her skills in Ergonomics, Biomechanics, and Human-Centered Design. 

Tacey Baker

Chief Operating Officer (C.O.O.)

Tacey is a certified Project Management Professional, Certified Scrum Master, and Prosci Change Management Practitioner. She received her B.S. in Biology from Texas A&M University and her MBA from Texas A&M-Commerce.

Tacey has over 30 years of experience in program/project oversight of technical personnel, enabling client success and positive change. She spent over 25 years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, beginning her career doing three-dimensional tissue engineering with the NASA Rotating Bioreactor. Her experience quickly expanded into developing software and hardware requirements for Biotechnology flight hardware, writing procedures and training astronaut crews, and supporting Shuttle, Mir, and International Space Station missions for the NASA Biotechnology Program. Tacey also supported the Strategy and Innovation team within NASA’s Human Health and Performance Directorate. For the last seven years, Tacey has worked for Autodesk, Inc. leading consulting programs and project teams delivering high-value outcomes to global enterprise customers in Manufacturing, and Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industries.

Dylan Dupree

Human Factors Specialist

Dylan joined the Sophic Team as a Human Factors Specialist in February 2023. He attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Factors.  

Dylan brings an integral understanding of Human Factors principles coupled with an applied skill set gained through field experiences in the Aviation/Aerospace domains. He holds specialized interests in Ergonomics, Anthropometry, VR/AR, and Usability.  

Dylan is excited to join the team here at Sophic Synergistics and is looking forward to gaining valuable industry experience, hands-on HF design knowledge, and professional growth.

Jennifer Fogarty, PhD.

Director of Applied Health & Performance

Jennifer Fogarty, PhD, is the Director of the Applied Health and Performance Division at Sophic Synergistics, LLC. Sophic Synergistics is a Human Centered Design firm specializing in integrating the best practices associated with human factors and medical physiology into a business model. Jennifer has over twenty years’ experience in human physiology and extreme environments and was most recently the NASA Human Research Program (HRP) Chief Scientist (CS) from November 2017 to January 2021. Jennifer led the development and oversight of an extensive research portfolio that addressed a very diverse set of human system risks to enable human exploration of space. This HRP CS role required communication and collaboration with Industry and Academic research and development laboratories, current NASA flight Programs, International Partners, and developmental spaceflight Programs that will be implementing human system risk reduction strategies. In addition, Jennifer established and maintained relationships and collaborations with research Programs at NASA, external institutions, and other government agencies to assess fundamental and mechanistic discoveries as well as innovative prevention and treatment strategies for application during mission design and execution. Before taking on this leadership role in the HRP, Jennifer was the Translational Scientist for NASA Space and Clinical Operations Division in the Human Health and Performance Directorate. In this role she facilitated project development and Program interactions between the operational and research communities. She identified candidates for the transition to operations process to reduce risk and resource utilization with the overall goal of preserving astronaut health and performance during and after missions. Previously, Jennifer was the Open Collaboration and Innovation Manager responsible for developing and maturing collaborations and applying tools such as technical gap analysis and open innovation platforms to further research, enhance clinical capabilities, and facilitate technology development.

Dr. Fogarty received a PhD from Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. She is currently on the editorial team for the Fundamentals of Aerospace Medicine 5th edition, regularly lectures on space physiology and human system risk management.

Betsy Fortman

Lead Engineer

Betsy received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from Purdue University. While still in college, Betsy began her career with NASA at Langley Research Center gaining almost 2 years of experience focusing on integration, design, and testing of aircraft and their control systems such as the F-18 and blended-wing body (BWB).

Upon graduation, Betsy began working with NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) as a Guidance, Navigation and Control System (GNC) Instructor for the International Space Station (ISS). In this role, Betsy trained numerous astronauts and flight controllers both in the classroom and the simulators. As Betsy’s career advanced, she worked as a Boeing Systems Engineer testing the US flight software for the GNC System and became a console operator in the Mission Evaluation Room for flights 1R, 1P, 2A.2b, 3A, and 4A, 5A (Shift Lead for 5A).

Throughout her career at JSC, Betsy traveled overseas helping to train astronauts and cosmonauts on the various systems of International Space Station (ISS) and the Russian Soyuz Vehicles. She also served as Deputy of Training Operations (DTOR) in Star City, Russia. Upon returning to the states, her career shifted from current spaceflight operations to future spacecraft design analysis. Betsy worked as Chief Engineer of the Astronaut Office Exploration Branch tracking major design requirements for the Commercial Crew and Orion programs.

In addition to her passion for engineering, Betsy is dedicated to developing our nation’s future engineers. She provides engineering lab presentations for a non-profit organization, Engineering Tomorrow (ET) concurrent to her work as Lead Engineer at Sophic. In her time with ET, Betsy has taught thousands of students in classrooms around the country and overseas, helping to inspire & develop their interests in the engineering and STEM fields.

Raquel Garcia, AHFP

Human Factors Specialist

Raquel started her career at Sophic in March 2019. She joined us as a Human Factors Intern from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and upon earning her Master of Science degree in Applied Cognitive Psychology with a specialization in Human Factors, she transitioned to a full-time specialist.

Raquel is an experienced Human Factors Specialist. Driven by her desire to advocate for the safety of the human, she takes great pride in providing the best human-centered design methodologies into every project she is assigned to. She currently works closely with our medical device clients and aerospace clients.

Sarah Hernandez

Human Factors Specialist

Sarah joined the Sophic Team as a Human Factors Intern in September 2022 after earning her Masters in Human Computer Interaction from Iowa State University. In April 2023 she transitioned into a full-time role as a Human Factors Specialist.

Sarah is passionate for human-centered design, and looks forward to gaining even more human factors experience with Sophic Synergistics and their amazing clients! 

Marsha Ivins

Director of H.S.I. (Human Systems Integration)

After graduating from the University of Colorado with a BS in Aerospace Engineering, Marsha was hired by Abbot Laboratories to work as a Bio-Medical Engineer in their hospital products division.

In 1974 she was hired by the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX to work in Human Factors and Man-Machine Engineering helping to develop the Space Shuttle Orbiter cockpit layout, displays and controls, and the Head-Up Display.

In 1980 Marsha was reassigned as a flight test engineer on the Shuttle Training Aircraft, the aircraft used to train all pilots in the Shuttle final landing phase. She served as flight engineer during training flights, and during flight tests of the final approach and landing software including the HUD, night landing techniques and approaches to all designed Orbiter landing areas in the US. She was also assigned as a pilot on the NASA administrative aircraft. She holds a multi-engine Airline Transport Pilot License with Gulfstream-1 type rating, single engine airplane, land, sea, and glider commercial licenses, and airplane, instrument, and glider flight instructor ratings. She has logged over 7000 hours in civilian and NASA aircraft.

Marsha was selected as an astronaut in the class of 1984 as a Mission Specialist. A veteran of five space flights, (STS-32 in 1990, STS-46 in 1992, STS-62 in 1994, STS-81 in 1997, and STS-98 in 2001); she has logged over 1,318 hours in space.

During her tenure in the Astronaut Office, Marsha supported the Space Shuttle and Space Station programs in all areas of operational crew interface and was the Astronaut Office expert in flight crew equipment, habitability, imagery (introducing new films and camera systems), and stowage. She also provided crew representation to program safety review boards and program decisional boards, and crew support to launch checkout operations at the Kennedy Space Center.  In her last 4 years with the agency, Marsha led the Astronaut Office team supporting the Constellation Program and the Commercial Crew Development initiative.

In 2010 Marsha retired after a 37-year career with NASA. Since then she has done flight test work for aircraft sensor systems, served as a consultant to the last IMAX space film documentary released in 2015, consulted on commercial spacecraft software independent verification and validation, and supported proposal work on a human lunar landing vehicle from the crew operations and human systems integrations perspective. In June 2023 she joined Sophic Synergistics as the Director of Human Systems Integration.

Jaelyn Kelly

Applied Health Specialist

Jaelyn received a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Houston in Physics with a minor in Mathematics. While at UH, her research consisted of tissue and wound healing simulation in theoretical biophysics, as well as designing and engineering astrobiological housing to capture extremophiles in space while working the space and radiation lab. She then pursued a Masters (MS) in Kinesiology with a focus in Exercise Physiology with the intent to return one day to working on human and space-focused endeavors.

The bulk of her clinical experience was gained during the pandemic where she expanded her scope of practice to cardiology, neurology/sleep testing, and rehabilitation/therapy.

Lisa Pitre

Partnerships Coordinator

Lisa joined the Sophic Team in March of 2022 taking over the Partnership Coordinator Role.

Lisa has over 20 years Sales Experience in a multitude of industries that include various Advertising industries, Oil & Gas, as well as Medical.  Lisa has an extensive background in Sales and Marketing and studied Business and Marketing at McNeese State University.

Lisa is excited to bring her expertise to support our current and future clients while learning about the cross-industry application of  Human-Centered Design to leverage her past experiences and open new doors for the Sophic Team and future business partnerships.

Kelly Powell

Kelly Powell

Administrative Coordinator

Kelly began her career with Sophic in September 2018 as a Partnerships Coordinator. She has since moved into the Administrative Coordinator role. Kelly helps manage daily operations, including HR as well as working events and conferences. She also functions as Cynthia’s Executive Assistant.  Kelly has a degree in Communications from Lamar University and a CAP Certification.

Kelly is driven to provide an experience that provides customer satisfaction and employee loyalty, understanding they are our most valuable assets.

Jennifer Read

Director of Business Development

Jennifer Read brings over 30 years of expertise and experience to her role as the Director of Business Development at Sophic Synergistics. With a strong background in strategic planning, portfolio management, and program lifecycle planning, Jennifer is committed to delivering exceptional client experiences and driving sustainable growth. 

During her tenure as Director of Portfolio Management at Space Tango, Jennifer displayed exceptional leadership skills in managing the company’s project portfolio. She spearheaded the ideation, planning, and pre-phase A lifecycle, ensuring effective decision-making and product development. Jennifer provided the groundwork for a strategic measurement framework and performance measurement plan, managed stakeholder relationships, while also delivering strategic planning for follow-on work with space manufacturing use cases. 

Jennifer’s contributions as an Operations Project Manager at The ISS National Laboratory showcased her ability to oversee and integrate operations activities for NASA payloads. Her expertise in planning, scheduling, and budgeting ensured successful implementation and integration from pre-flight to post-flight. Jennifer’s commitment to effective communication and project progress monitoring enabled her to deliver exceptional results and maintain strong customer relationships. 

With her strong foundation in system engineering and project management, Jennifer played a pivotal role in NASA programs as a Senior Systems Engineer at KBR Engineering. She excelled in managing technical trades, risk mitigation, and compliance with NASA’s human spaceflight program safety policies. Jennifer’s contributions extended to her role as an Integration Scientist for the Health and Medical Technical Authority, where she facilitated streamlined processes and ensured compliance with mandatory standards. 

Jennifer’s career journey also includes positions at the Aerospace Corporation, Booz Allen Hamilton, Rocketdyne/Boeing, and Krug Life Sciences, where she consistently demonstrated her ability to secure new business, provide project management support, and deliver exceptional results. 

Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences from Michigan State University, and she maintains certifications as a Continuous Good Manufacturing Professional (cGMPro), and Quality Assurance Professional (QAPro). 

Joshua Valdez

Graphic Communications Specialist

Josh joined the Sophic team in January 2020 as a Communications Intern. He went on to graduate from the University of Houston-Clear Lake with a bachelor’s degree in Communication. In May 2020, he transitioned to a Graphic Communications Specialist.

Josh has an extensive background in photography, graphic design, and web design.