Wendy Brown, UC Davis Biomedical Engineering Ph.D. student

A biomedical engineering Ph.D. student is part of a team from UC Davis that has been chosen out of a group of competitors to send an experiment onto the International Space Station. Wendy Brown (Athanasiou Lab) is a Co-PI with Dr. Jonathan Eisen (Evolution and Ecology, Microbiology and Immunology, and the Genome Center) on “Comparison of the Growth Rate & DNA/RNA Quantitation of Microgravity Exposed Microbial Community Samples Collected by the Astronauts Onboard the International Space Station And by Citizen Scientists & Student Scientists at Public Venues”.

The group will recruit “citizen scientists” to collect microbe samples at professional sporting events, schools, and similar venues and flown to the International Space Station. Their goal is to study the effects of microgravity on the growth of earth-based microbes and to analyze the DNA of microbes found on board the ISS. The experiment will be launched to the space station in December, 2013.

Wendy’s role will be to orchestrate collection of samples and publicize the initiative to get people interested in the project. Dr. Eisen’s lab will handle the processing and packaging of the collected microbe samples. Wendy is a Science Cheerleader and Darlene Cavalier, founder of the Science Cheerleaders, will organize the Cheerleaders to distribute and collect samples.

The contest was sponsored by Space Florida, Florida’s aerospace development organization and spaceport authority, and NanoRacks, LLC. A team of 15 independent judges evaluated the proposals based on defined value in the commercial marketplace, potential for future benefits in space travel, and professional qualifications of the applicants. Four winning proposals originated from the commercial field and four in the area of education and research. The winners will each receive research payload transportation to the ISS via an upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

More about the competition here: http://www.spaceflorida.gov/news/2012/11/29/space-florida-announces-iss-research-competition-winners-at-asgsr