Dr. Watenpaugh was born in Dallas, Texas and he was raised in Irving. Don graduated from the University of North Texas, Denton, with a B.S. in 1982 and a M.S. in 1984, both in biology. His research there in Dr. Tom Beitinger’s lab demonstrated how low, sub-lethal levels of pollutants adversely affect fish swimming performance and tolerance of stressors like heat and low oxygen. Don’s interests in space science led him to work with Dr. Gunnar Blomqvist at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (1984-1989). There Don contributed to the first comprehensive studies of how the weightlessness of space flight reduces astronauts’ ability to stand and exercise after returning to Earth. Don’s work at Southwestern led to a M.A. in physiology.
From 1989 to 1996, he managed Dr. Alan Hargens’ Space Physiology Laboratory at NASA Ames Research Center, CA. Their research team developed methods such as lower body negative pressure exercise to counteract debilitating effects of spaceflight. Exercise in space helps astronauts safely return to Earth. Dr. Watenpaugh earned his Ph.D. in physiology in 1995 from University of California, Davis. In 1996, Dr. Watenpaugh worked with Dr. Peter Norsk at the Danish Aerospace Medical Centre for Research in Copenhagen, Denmark. They collaborated on the first comprehensive comparison of female and male responses to water immersion. Dr. Watenpaugh then joined Dr. Mike Smith at the University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth (1996-2000). Their work demonstrated how sleep breathing problems increase blood pressure. They also documented adverse effects of sleep restriction on cardiovascular function. From 2000 to 2004, Dr. Watenpaugh worked at the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory, Groton, CT, where he studied environmental physiology of submariners and divers. Specific projects included development of novel preventive measures and treatments for decompression sickness, vitamin D supplementation in submariners, and design of exercise devices for the confined environment of submarines.
Dr. Watenpaugh joined Sleep Consultants, Inc. in Fort Worth, Texas first as a sleep study analyst from 1997 to 2000, and then as a caregiver in 2004. He trained for clinical work with Drs. Mary and Ed O’Malley in Norwalk, CT, and with Drs. John Burk and Ed Lucas at Sleep Consultants. Dr. Watenpaugh earned board certification in sleep medicine in 2005, and he has served as Director of Sleep Consultants since that time. Dr. Watenpaugh has directly supervised the research and/or clinical training of 37 undergraduate/graduate students and doctors. He also has extensive classroom teaching experience. He is adjunct professor in the Department of Integrative Physiology, University of North Texas Health Science Center, Fort Worth, and in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Texas, Arlington. A Medline search of “watenpaugh d” shows much of his peer-reviewed publication record, and many of those works and others are available at ResearchGate.net.