The winner of this year’s Genes in Space competition, a biology-based research contest sponsored by Boeing, is 17-year-old Isabel Jiang. The announcement was made in Seattle during the International Space Station Research and Development Conference. Next year, astronauts working out of the U.S. National Laboratory on board the International Space Station will conduct Jiang’s experiment.
Students in grades 7 through 12 are encouraged to create biological experiments for the Genes in Space competition that address practical issues in space travel. 194 schools from 31 states submitted work for the national competition. At the conference, the authors of the top five proposals discussed their concepts with a group of academics, technologists, and scientists.
From a competitive field of 820 entries from 1,177 students, Jiang’s experiment was chosen. Her research aims to comprehend the processes that lead to the reactivation of dormant viruses in outer space.
I’m eager to observe the results of [my experiment] in space and utilize that knowledge to guide future medical choices, said Jiang.
She added that she is eager to investigate a subject that has not previously been researched in space and to see how her findings will be used in medicine here on Earth.
Jiang’s study, together with two programme technology demonstration trips, will be the eleventh Genes in Space student experiment carried out by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. In 2015, Genes in Space was established as a result of a partnership between Boeing and miniPCR bio. Since then, the programme has been supported by the ISS U.S. National Laboratory and New England Biolabs.