June 3rd, 2019

GiS Spotlight: Junior Scientist Award winner Theo Boris

The Junior Scientist Award recognizes the top 5 outstanding submissions from middle school teams. Here, 2019 winner Theo Boris (13), a student at the Collegiate School in New York City, offers us a look into his winning proposal.

Theo Boris with hugbot Theo and his award-winning Hugbot

Briefly explain your experiment: Can BFR help downregulate REDD2 and MAFbx in microgravity? Since these genes have been shown as markers of skeletal muscle protein levels, their downregulation by BFR would indicate it could help prevent atrophy.

Why did you choose to participate in Genes in Space? I learned about Genes in Space at the 2018 World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science.  I am a maker and I was presenting my Hugbot, a gigantic stuffed robot that gives hugs and promotes intergalactic peace.  During a break, I came upon the Genes in Space booth and I was instantly drawn to the challenge.  I am also a Celestron Ambassador, an amateur astronomer, a meteorite hunter, and eclipse chaser so I am deeply immersed in space, space travel, and the planetary sciences.

JSA winner Theo Boris Theo on a meteorite hunt

How did you choose your topic? I injured my knee ski racing and had to have arthroscopic knee surgery. During rehab, I noticed a man working out with a tourniquet on his leg. I asked my physical therapist about it and he told me it was Blood Flow Restriction (BFR) training and explained how it works. It gave me the idea that BFR could be used effectively for space travel.

What did you gain by participating in Genes in Space? I learned how much I love science and the creative and scientific process. This was my first science competition, so I learned how to do research, how to keep refining my hypothesis until it is clearly defined, how to express and communicate my ideas simply and plainly, and I learned how to manage my time on a long term project.

Do you have any advice for future Genes in Space contestants? Don’t be afraid to pursue an idea, and then scrap it, and start all over again. Not all ideas are good ones, and some are better than others.  What I would advise is to have fun, persevere, be curious, and always remain open minded.

2019 JSA winner Theo Boris

Theo under the Northern Lights