May 31st, 2023

GiS Spotlight: Junior Scientist awardees Noie Lin and Anna Erickson

Each year, we honor 5 outstanding submissions from 7th and 8th graders with Junior Scientist Awards. Of the 820 submissions we received this year, more than 175 were contributed by middle schoolers with creative ideas to solve challenges related to space exploration

Today, we shine the GiS Spotlight on one JSA winning team: Noie Lin (14) and Anna Erikson (14) from Arts and Letters 305 United in Brooklyn, New York, who wanted to understand how cognitive dysfunction in space could be studied using DNA methylation.

What was the focus of your experiment? Our experiment uses DNA methylation to identify white matter changes in the brain and cognitive dysfunction caused by the space environment. We proposed using DNA methylation as a biomarker for cognitive dysfunction so astronauts can identify these changes more easily.

Noie & Anna

Why did you choose to participate in Genes in Space? We chose to participate because we were inspired by former students at our school who have previously participated and won some awards. We were also about to begin our unit in genetics and took Genes in Space as an opportunity to advance our knowledge on genetics and space.

How did you choose your topic? We chose our topic because we were extremely interested in how space travel affects the brain. Upon researching, we discovered that the way scientists have been tracking space related cognitive decline is through MRI's. MRI's are very expensive and impossible to bring aboard a spacecraft. We wanted to create an accessible way to test cognitive decline in space, so astronauts can safely travel for long periods of time and take care of their brains.

What did you gain by participating in Genes in Space? By participating in Genes in Space we learned so much invaluable knowledge about genetics, the brain, and space. It was also a greatly rewarding experience to learn how to research a specific subject and really dive deep into the topic. .

Do you have any advice for future Genes in Space contestants? Our advice for future Genes in space Contestants is to create a proposal in a topic you're really interested in. And make sure to use all the resources provided by Genes in space, such as the videos and articles. Another piece of advice we have is to take your time when researching. The Genes in Space topics are very complicated and you will come across some very challenging texts. It's Important to really discuss and take time to decipher these topics.

Posted in Genes in Space 2023.