Who can participate?
You must live in the USA and be in grades 7-12
You can work alone or in a team of up to 2 students
You must be available to present at the Genes in Space finals at the ISS Research & Development Conference in Boston, MA from July 29 - August 1, 2024.
We encourage you to seek mentorship from
a teacher, parent, or another science enthusiast
APPLYING IS EASY
We invite you to design a DNA experiment that addresses challenges in space travel and deep space exploration. From bacterial cell growth to the human immune system, everything works a little differently in space.
Choose a topic that interests you and tell us why it’s important for space exploration.
Need help getting started?
Watch videos about current space biology research
Propose a clear hypothesis. Here’s where the research comes in: what’s already known about this system on Earth and in space?
Visit the Genes in Space Learn page
Your experiment should make creative use of one or more elements of the Genes in Space toolkit. Select the tools that are best suited to solving your problem and explain how you’ll use them to answer your question.
As the only permanently crewed orbiting research facility, the ISS is a precious resource. Explain why this unique environment is required to test your hypothesis. How will humanity – whether in space or on Earth – benefit from your work?.
Check your work and send your application off! Know that at the other end, our panel of scientists can’t wait to review your proposal.
The 2023 contest has closed. Preview next year's application form here
Finalists, Honorable Mentions, Junior Scientist Awardees and Constellation Awardees will receive complete P51 Fluorescence Biotechnology Kits for their schools. Each kit includes a class set of P51 Fluorescence Viewers, a classroom set of micropipettes, micropipette tips and a Learning Lab kit - an $800 value.
Provide a short video pitch on your experiment for a chance to advance as a Finalist.
Receive mentoring from Harvard and MIT scientists.
Present proposals to the Genes in Space judges for a chance to win.
Participate in Space Biology Camp to prepare your experiment for space travel.
Travel to Kennedy Space Center to see the launch.
Launch your DNA experiment to space!
For students in grades 7-8 with outstanding ideas.
For the schools with the most
submissions from each of
the five regions of the U.S.
For teams whose proposals
display remarkable scientific
rigor and creativity.
You must submit your experimental idea online on or before April 15, 2024 at 11:59pm PDT.
No. Your submission will be judged on creative and scientific merit of your idea. If selected as the winner, you will attend Space Biology Camp to prepare your experiment for space travel.
Not necessarily! You may use any tool in the Genes in Space toolkit - alone or together. However, access to these tools or prior knowledge of how to use them is not required.
For the purposes of your proposal, yes. Your Genes in Space proposal may include any tool that is necessary for your experiment. For example, many prior Genes in Space experiments have involved analysis by gel electrophoresis after samples have been returned to Earth. Genes in Space-6 incorporated CRISPR and direct DNA sequencing of samples amplified on-orbit. Genes in Space winners will work alongside their mentors, astronauts, and space biologists to push the boundaries of DNA analysis in space!
Yes! The winning experimental design will be conducted aboard the International Space Station, pending approval from The ISS National Laboratory. The exact launch date will be determined after winners are announced.
miniPCR is a conventional (end point) PCR thermal cycler. However, you can propose an experiment that uses quantitative PCR (also referred to as real-time PCR or qPCR). It won’t affect your chances of winning the competition.
2024 finalists will present their ideas to contest judges at the ISS Research & Development Conference, which will be held July 29 - August 1, 2024 in Boston, MA. At least one student from each finalist team must be available to present at the conference.
No, not to the same Genes in Space contest. We can only accept one proposal per student per contest year. However you are welcome to participate in Genes in Space every year that you are eligible. That means you can submit your best idea this year and save your other ideas to submit in future years.
Unfortunately no, the current Genes in Space contest is only open to students in 7-12 grade in the United States. In 2016 we offered a contest in the United Arab Emirates and hope to offer more international contests in the future.
Absolutely! In fact, our 2018 winning team was made up of students from different high schools.
Yes! We welcome submissions from homeschooled students.
You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.