June 2nd, 2022

Photos: Astronaut Kate Rubins joins space biology camp 2022

Every year, we hold our own "space biology camp" where the latest contest winner joins our team as we prepare their experiment for launch. No two space biology camps are the same, but this year took us to new heights, as astronaut and biologist Dr. Kate Rubins joined 2021 winner Selin Kocalar and the rest of our team at miniPCR bio headquarters for the occasion.

We're sharing photo highlights below so you can relive the day along with us.

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Kate Rubins addresses a packed house at Arlington High School

The day began with an outreach event at Arlington High School, a school near Genes in Space headquarters in Arlington, MA. Kate addressed a packed house of more than 150 students and shared a highlight video detailing the work she carried out during her two expeditions aboard the ISS. From spacewalking to culturing heart cells to proving that you CAN micropipette in space, she's done it all!

After her presentation, Kate handed the mic to Selin Kocalar, who explained the experiment she will be launching to the ISS this summer and took questions from the audience. Based on what we heard, we wouldn't be surprised if we were in the midst of some future Genes in Space Finalists!

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miniPCR bio's Dr. Emily Gleason shows Kate Rubins the tools in the Genes in Space toolkit

Next, our team convened at miniPCR bio headquarters where the hands-on science began. miniPCR bio's Dr. Ally Huang briefed Kate on the BioBits technology at the core of Selin's experiment, and talked Kate through a hands-on demonstration so she could see the system in action. Selin followed up to explain how she had incorporated BioBits into her winning proposal, and picked Kate's brain to hear how she thought the technology might be applied in the future.

Genes in Space science lead Dr. Emily Gleason and mentor Bess Miller followed up to talk Kate through the protocol for Selin's experiment and hear firsthand how Kate thought it would translate in microgravity.

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2021 GiS winner Selin Kocalar explains her experiment to Kate Rubins

All good things must come to an end, and our visit with Kate was no exception. Before her departure, Kate graciously took time for photos with our extended team, including the Genes in Space alumni and mentors, Boeing's Scott Copeland and Kevin Foley, New England Biolabs' Carine Robichon-Iyer, and the entire miniPCR bio team.

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Kate Rubins alongside Genes in Space 2020 winner Kristoff Misquitta (left), 2021 winner Selin Kocalar, and 2018 winner David Li (right)

But the day wasn't over yet.

After Kate's departure, Selin and her mentor, Bess Miller, rolled up their sleeves and got to work preparing the experimental samples that will launch to the ISS this summer. With backup samples, and backups for the backups, there is much work to be done when you are prepping experiments for space. But this dedicated team was up to the task!

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Mentor Bess Miller (left) and Selin Kocalar prepare their experimental samples for launch

Space biology camp 2022 is a day we won't soon forget. We thank our sponsors at Boeing, miniPCR bio, and New England Biolabs for enabling out-of-this-world experiences like this one. And we are especially grateful to the team at the ISS U.S. National Laboratory for enabling Kate's visit.

With the samples prepared, there's only one thing left to do: launch them to space! Selin's experiment is set to launch to the ISS this summer aboard CRS-25. Stay tuned for updates and photos as our team travels to Cape Canaveral to take part in the launch.

More photos from Kate's visit