February 28th, 2023

A peek inside the Genes in Space 2023 application

So you have a great idea for a DNA experiment in space. Fantastic! But how do you go about turning that idea into a proposal to have your experiment actually conducted in space? Below we outline how and provide an actual example of a successful Genes in Space submission.

The good news is that coming up with the idea was the hard part. We invite entries that ask big questions that address one of the challenges or opportunities of space travel and deep space exploration; the bigger and more critical the question, the better.

Now that you are ready to begin writing, what information actually goes into your submission? The actual Genes in Space application questions, and tips for answering them, are below. 

1. Provide a descriptive title for your project. (100 character limit)

Every project has a name, and this one should be a clear and succinct description of the problem your proposal will explore. You can keep it general; no need to get too detailed at this point.

2. Describe the scientific problem that you propose to address. What is the question you are trying to answer? What makes it significant, relevant, or interesting? (200 word limit) 

Here you will want to convince us that the scientific problem you are addressing is important and show us that you understand the science surrounding your problem. This is where a lot of the background research you did prior to writing up your submission pays off. Make sure you explain the problem clearly and tell us how the world will be different if we know the answer to your question.

3. State your hypothesis and explain your reasoning. Based on your background research, what will be the main objective of your experiment? (200 word limit) 

Based on the background research that you did about your problem, what do you think the answer might be? Again you will want to show us that you understand the problem you are proposing to address.

4. Outline your experimental plan. How will you use the tools in the Genes in Space Toolkit to test your hypothesis? Be sure to specify the samples you will analyze, controls that you will use, and the possible experimental outcomes. (200 word limit) 

Here, you explain how you're going to get an answer to your experimental question. What steps should the astronauts follow to complete your investigation? In addition to identifying the Toolkit items you'll use in your study, we'll need you to show us you've really thought through your experimental design. What variable(s) will you be measuring? What controls will you introduce to eliminate sources of experimental error? Finally, be sure to tell us, based on your hypothesis, what the possible outcomes from your experiment are and what they would mean.

5. Explain why you selected the tools you incorporated into your experimental plan. What makes them a good fit for your research question? (200 word limit) 

This question is your chance to put your knowledge of the Genes in Space Toolkit to work. It might be tempting to use as many tools as possible — bigger is better, right? — but know that the number of tools you incorporate in your proposal is not a criterion our judges consider. We are looking for compelling and focused experiments, and it only takes one well-selected tool to hit that mark. That said, there are situations when two tools together are better than one. Learn more about those pairings on our Toolkit page.

6. How did you hear about Genes in Space? (From my teacher, parent, the internet, etc) 

Easy question! It is just to help us figure out how to get the word out about the competition in the future. Thank you for helping us!

7. Citations (optional) 

It is very important for scientists to give credit to people who helped them develop their ideas. Please cite any sources that were critical to your understanding of your scientific problem and the development of your experiment.

Ready to get started on your application? Download our sample application form and begin drafting your work. Once you are ready to submit, head to our Apply page. Know that we can't wait to read your proposal!