January 13th, 2022

Genes in Space STEM contest opens call for applications

Contest offers students a chance to launch a research project to the International Space Station

Cambridge, MA, Jan. 13, 2022Genes in Space, an annual competition that challenges students to solve big-picture problems faced by space travelers, opened a call for entries today. Each year, the contest invites students in grades 7-12 to design pioneering DNA experiments for the International Space Station (ISS), with one winning experiment to be carried out by astronauts. Genes in Space is a collaboration between miniPCR bio and Boeing with additional support from the ISS National Laboratory and New England Biolabs.

Genes in Space asks students to design original DNA experiments that address real-life challenges and opportunities in space exploration. In drafting their proposals, contestants must make use of the Genes in Space Toolkit, a suite of biotechnology tools available aboard the ISS. In the Toolkit, essential molecular biology techniques like polymerase chain reaction (PCR) sit alongside cutting-edge tools like BioBits, a cell-free protein expression system. Toolkit items share a common suitability for use in research environments like the ISS, where space and resources are limited.

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Genes in Space 2020 winner Kristoff Misquitta

“By linking the competition to the use of specific technologies, students who participate don’t just get a chance to design an experiment. They walk away with practical knowledge of tools in wide use throughout the biomedical workforce,” says Genes in Space co-founder Sebastian Kraves.

Since the founding of the contest in 2015, Genes in Space has launched eight student experiments to the ISS. Winning students have been responsible for significant space biology milestones; their experiments have led to the first polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and first use of CRISPR gene-editing technology in space.

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Genes in Space 2018 winning team: from left, Rebecca Li, Michelle Sung, Aarthi Vijayakumar and David Li

“Genes in Space has truly been a transformative experience,” said Rebecca Li, a member of the Genes in Space 2018 winning team. “Not only was I able to expand my knowledge of space biology and lab techniques, I learned how to become an effective teammate, a more confident speaker, and overall, a better scientist.

The Genes in Space competition will close April 11, 2022. Contest participation does not require specialized equipment, and is free to enter.

Media contacts:

miniPCR bio: Katy Martin, genesinspace@minipcr.com, 781-990-8727

Boeing: Steven Siceloff, steven.p.siceloff@boeing.com, 281-253-8089