June 4th, 2020

Congratulations to our 2020 Finalists and Honorable Mentions!

Genes in Space 2020 was our most extraordinary contest yet. Despite the massive upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, 556 student teams persevered to share their ideas for the advancement of space exploration. The collective strength of these submissions made it exceptionally difficult to select awardees, and we thank all our participants for inspiring us with their creativity and scientific rigor.

Today, we are pleased to announce the 5 Finalists as well as 10 Honorable Mentions. Last week, we announced the Junior Scientist and Constellation Award recipients

We are proud to offer each of the winning teams a miniPCR DNA Discovery SystemTM  for their educational institution. This prize grants our awardees and their classmates a chance to use the very same biotechnology equipment in use on the ISS.


These five students submitted proposals that stood out in their ingenuity, thoughtful execution, and potential to meaningfully improve the future of space travel. These extraordinary young scientists will present their ideas to our judges live at the 2020 Genes in Space Finalist Launchpad, and we will launch one of their experiments to space in 2021. Meet our Finalists below.

2020 finalist Deepti Aggarwal

Deepti Aggarwal (14) from Troy High School in Troy, MI

Topic: Biochemistry and genetics of blood clotting in microgravity

2020 finalist Tamara Gruslova

Tamara Gruslova (16) from BASIS San Antonio Shavano in San Antonio, TX

Topic: Neurovascular impacts on astronaut cognitive function

2020 finalist Ava Hanadel

Ava Hanadel (16) from the Institute for Collaborative Education in New York, NY

Topic: Neural development and function during long-term spaceflight

2020 finalists Kristoff Misquitta

Kristoff Misquitta (17) from Stuyvesant High School in New York, NY

Topic: Personalized medicine in microgravity: Metabolism of pharmaceutical drugs

2020 finalist Alexander Popescu

Alexander Popescu (15) from North Central High School in Spokane, WA

Topic: Impact of the gut microbiome on astronaut bone density loss

Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mentions are awarded to 10 teams with proposals that showed outstanding creativity and scientific rigor. Congratulations to the exceptional young scientists named below. You have bright futures ahead of you, and we can't wait to see how you change the scientific landscape!

Maya Avida (15), Audrey Acken (15) and Karen Guo (16) from the Nueva School in San Mateo, CA

Topic: Influence of microgravity on bacterial behavior and antibiotic resistance

Sebastien Beurnier (17) and Fu Xing Chen (15) from Stuyvesant High School in New York, NY

Topic: Epigenetic modification in pre-implantation embryos in space

Lucy Brock (16) and Ellie Yates (17), homeschooled in Austin, TX

Topic: Tracking growth and fitness in cells involved in tissue repair under microgravity conditions

Adrian Fontao (18) from Northwood High School in Irvine, CA

Topic: Effect of the microbiome on astronaut bone density alterations

Elisa Guo (16) from Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, MN

Topic: Impact of microgravity on regulation of embryonic development by microRNAs

Eric Heng (16) and Julie Heng (18) from Huron High School in Ann Arbor, MI

Topic: Dynamics of cancer evolution in space

Kayla Leung (16), Karilyn Duran (17), Yee Lam Lei (16) and Nuzhat Mukul (17) from the High School for Math, Science, and Engineering @CCNY in New York, NY

Topic: Using CRISPR to prevent viral reactivation in astronauts

Alice Muravin (18) from Hillcrest Homeschool Academy in Brooklyn, NY

Topic: Regulation of skeletal muscle composition by microRNAs in a space environment

Riley Rane (16) and Reva Agrawal (16) from miRcore in Ann Arbor, MI

Topic: Expression of cytotoxic enzymes in natural killer cells weakened by spaceflight

Vivian Yee (16) from International Academy in Bloomfield Township, MI

Topic: Metabolic changes as a cause of premature vascular aging in astronauts

Congratulations to all awardees from the entire Genes in Space team! Thanks for doing your part to drive the future of space exploration.
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