Genes in Space Finalists: Where are they now? (Part 2)
Since 2015, more than 5000 students have touched our program by contributing their ideas to the advancement of space biology. Of those, 52 Finalists have presented their ideas for a chance to launch their science to the ISS. Year over year, our Finalists' presentations stand as a testament to their phenomenal potential and leave us convinced they will leave their mark on the world.
We checked in with 18 past Finalists to see what they've been up to since Genes in Space. From software development to nursing to photojournalism, they are pursuing a wide range of interests. Yet they share one thing in common: all are chasing their passions.
In part 2 of this feature, we focus on nine Finalists from our 2016 U.A.E. competition and our 2017 and 2018 U.S. competitions. Check out part 1 to catch up with Finalists from our 2015 and 2016 U.S. contests.
UAE Class of 2016
Karun Isaac, Finalist from Dubai
What are you up to now? I'm currently in my senior year of high school.
What are your plans for the future? I plan to attend college, majoring in Cellular and Molecular Biology and ultimately specializing in Genetics.
Wilson Minter Huijsmans, Finalist from Abu Dhabi (with teammates Akio Shirali and Matteo Sottocornola)
What are you up to now? I'm finishing up high school and making plans for college.
What are your plans for the future? I plan to attend University in England, my top choices being Cambridge and Warwick Universities for an integrated Masters Degree in Physical Science. Beyond that, I envision a Ph.D. and subsequent career in Physics research, likely at a University or similar research facility.
Alia Al Mansoori, Winner from Dubai
What are you up to now? I am currently working as a stem cell research fellow at New York University in Abu Dhabi. I am currently in my final year of high school.
What are your plans for the future? I hope to go to university in the US. In the future, I want to be a field research biologist.
U.S. Class of 2017
Liza Reizis, Winner from New York, NY
What are you up to now? Currently, I am in my senior year at Stuyvesant High School. Since my freshman year, I have been working in a variety of laboratories and participating in different science programs.
What are your plans for the future? I plan to pursue my passion for Biology next year in college. I hope to eventually complete graduate school and become a researcher.
Sophia Chen, Winner from Seattle, WA
What are you up to now? I'm currently a senior in high school and plan to major in Biology or Biomedical Engineering in college.
What are your plans for the future? In the future, I hope to become a biomedical researcher and am particularly interested in studying cancer.
U.S. Class of 2018
Krishan Ubongen, Finalist from San Antonio, TX (with teammates Joseph Garza and Addison Correll)
What are you up to now? Since graduating this past June, I have been pursuing my other interests, from taekwondo to photography to starting a nonprofit.
What are your plans for the future? After obtaining my Bachelor’s degree, I plan to attend medical school in hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon and to eventually establish a humanitarian organization that will provide medical care to impoverished nations.
Rebecca Li, Winner from Woodbury, MN (with teammates Aarthi Vijayakumar, Michelle Sung, and David Li)
What are you up to now? I'm a first-year at Yale University and I am thinking of majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.
What are your plans for the future? After graduation, I hope to go to medical school and become a pediatric oncologist.
Aarthi Vijayakumar, Winner from Woodbury, MN (with teammates Rebecca Li, Michelle Sung, and David Li)
What are you up to now? I'm a freshman at Yale University and am currently planning to major in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry.
What are your plans for the future? After graduating, I'm hoping to go to medical school and become a doctor (and continue to stay involved in space biology research!).
Michelle Sung, Winner from Woodbury, MN (with teammates Aarthi Vijayakumar, Rebecca Li, and David Li)
What are you up to now? I've been studying molecular and cellular biology and public health at Johns Hopkins University.
What are your plans for the future? I'm hoping to head to medical school after graduation and become a pediatrician or family doctor.