NASA just granted 15 awards to scientists involved in new space biology research for the Artemis lunar exploration program. Thanks to the awarded experts, genetic techniques, among other biological processes, will be used to explore the effects of space travel on living creatures. The results could offer revolutionary information that could help support human exploration on the Moon, and even on Mars.
Some of the most skilled microbiology investigators will observe the changes bacteria, fungi, and viruses might experience due to the conditions of space travel and how these alterations could affect the human crew and the materials on the International Space Station. The researchers are going to focus mainly on the risks of infections and microbial evolution.
The experiments conducted on plans will provide scientists information regarding space-farming methods for exploration missions, particularly interactions between microbes and modifications in plant disease defense mechanisms.
Animal physiology experiments are useful for scientists to gain more knowledge about cardiovascular changes our organisms might encounter in outer space. All of these investigations will be made by 15 experts from 14 institutions from all over the U.S. Approximately $9 million will be rewarded to them in fiscal years 2020-2023.
NASA Awards Scientists Who Submitted Research Proposals for the Artemis Lunar Exploration Program
Awards for Microbiology Studies:
- Jack Gilbert, Ph.D., University of California, San Diego – Quantifying selection for pathogenicity and antibiotic resistance in bacteria and fungi on the ISS
- Janet Jansson, Ph.D., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington – Dynamics of microbiomes in space (DynaMoS)
- Jiseon Yang, Ph.D., Arizona State University, Phoenix – Microbial social behavior and heritable genetic or epigenetic changes affected by the spaceflight environment: Understanding the evolution of microbial interactions during spaceflight
- Clay Wang, Ph.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles – Characterization of ISS microorganisms that assist in the decomposition of complex organic matter during spaceflight
Awards for Plant Biology Studies:
- Robert Ferl, Ph.D., University of Florida, Gainesville – The role of Ca2+ signaling during the early events of plant adaptation to spaceflight
- Anjali Iyer-Pascuzzi, Ph.D., Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana – Effect of spaceflight and simulated microgravity on plant defense responses
- Christer Jansson, Ph.D., Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington – C4 Photosynthesis in Space (C4Space)
- Norman Lewis, Ph.D., Washington State University, Pullman – Dissecting beneficial plant-microbe interactions and their efficacy in the ISS spaceflight environment, a model study
- Gioia Massa, Ph.D., NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida – Spaceflight microbiome of a food crop grown using different substrate moisture levels
- Patrick Masson, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison – Can polyamines mitigate plant stress response under microgravity conditions?
- Sarah Wyatt, Ph.D., Ohio University, Athens – Spaceflight alters post-transcriptional regulation
Awards for Animal Biology Studies:
- Michael Delp, Ph.D., Florida State University, Tallahassee – Effects of simulated microgravity and partial unloading on organ systems of the body
- Foteini Mourkioti, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia – Telomere length regulation in muscle atrophy
- Seward Rutkove, Ph.D., Beth Isreal Deaconess, Boston – Approaching gravity as a continuum: musculoskeletal effects of fractional reloading
- Ritesh Tandon, Ph.D., University of Mississippi Medical Center, Jackson – Effect of space radiation on cytomegalovirus reactivation and lytic replication
The experts listed above earned their awards after submitting research proposals to NASA for ground-based and flight research investigations. These studies will offer NASA valuable information about how living organisms adapt to space travel. Ultimately, the results will support human space exploration and scientific discovery.
Dee Mongo is a graduate of UFT. She’s based in Toronto and has written for Maclean’s, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post. In her spare time, she plays AC/DC on the ukulele and does psychic readings for B-grade celebrities. Dee is our tech/finance correspondent.