June 15th, 2020

GiS Spotlight: Junior Scientist Award winner Ian Chow

The Genes in Space Junior Scientist Award recognizes the top 5 submissions from middle school teams. Today, we're featuring 2020 Junior Scientist Award winner Ian Chow (14), a student at the Pierrepont School in Westport, CT. Ian is a two-time awardee, having received an Honorable Mention for his participation in our 2019 contest. This contest veteran shares his insider tips on crafting a winning proposal below.

JSA Ian Chow Ian Chow

What was the focus of your experiment? I wanted to see whether higher intakes of water could prevent space fever in astronauts. I tested for levels of the anti-inflammatory protein IL-1RA, which have shown to have a direct relationship with astronauts’ core body temperature.

Why do you participate in Genes in Space? I participate in Genes is Space because it is challenging to think of a DNA experiment relevant to space travel. I always love challenging myself, and I think this competition is a great way to do so. In addition, when I participate in Genes in Space, I feel like I am able to make a difference. Even if your experiment is not the winning proposal, your idea could call to attention serious problems in space travel. 

How did you choose your topic this year? At first, I had no idea what I wanted to write a proposal about. I was searching for articles and papers when finally I found a paper about fevers and raised core body temperatures in astronauts. I found this relevant and interesting, so I continued to research it until I created my idea.  

What have you gained by participating in Genes in Space? Genes in Space has made me a more thoughtful person, and I have also been able to learn about so many topics by researching a proposal idea. Writing the proposal is a very important part, but I think the process of getting that idea is the most beneficial part for learning and gaining experience.

What advice do you have for future Genes in Space contestants? Ask yourself what difference you want to make. It could be small, or it could be big, but just as long as it is something that you would like to pursue and investigate. Remember to have fun!