GiS Spotlight: Junior Scientist awardee Naveen Talla
Each year, we honor 5 outstanding submissions from 7th and 8th graders with Junior Scientist Awards. This year, earning a Junior Scientist Award was no easy feat — more than half of the 630 proposals we received were submitted by middle school teams!
Today, we shine the GiS Spotlight on one JSA winner: Naveen Talla (13) from Robert E. Bell Middle School in Chappaqua, NY, who wants to prevent cellular damage from antioxidants in space.
What was the focus of your experiment? The goal of my project was to find out if the imbalance of antioxidants and prooxidants in astronauts was caused by a specific gene not functioning due to space conditions.
Why did you choose to participate in Genes in Space? I learned about DNA and genes at a camp a couple of years ago and have always been interested in how they work. I am also interested in space, and I am excited to hear about new developments in space medicine that could help future astronauts. I chose to participate in Genes in Space because it is a combination of two of my favorite topics, and it offered a rare opportunity to help astronauts stay safe in space.
How did you choose your topic? I found my topic after reading many articles, scientific papers, and magazines, about diseases or problems that astronauts develop after being in space for a long time. After reading about how astronauts are more prone to developing oxidative stress, I was curious about how outer space conditions effect gene expression. That question was the basis for my project.
What did you gain by participating in Genes in Space? By participating in Genes in Space, I learned about some of the health concerns astronauts face due to long-duration space missions and a lot more about DNA and genes than I would have learned otherwise.
Do you have any advice for future Genes in Space contestants? One piece of advice is to read as many articles as possible once you have an idea. This will allow you to explain your idea clearly. I also recommend learning about the Genes in Space toolkit before finding an idea, so you know what tools you can use to do your experiments.