Designing MixStix Space Biology Experiments: A Teacher’s Guide

One of my favorite parts of being involved in space biology, is getting to do outreach for students. I’ve had the pleasure of zooming with several classes of kids involved in the STARward STEM program, a project-based learning experience where elementary students design experiments for spaceflight. I’m writing this blog post for teachers involved in […]

Read More Designing MixStix Space Biology Experiments: A Teacher’s Guide

DIY Clinostat: Retrofit a Tube Mixer

I’ve mentioned before how plants sense gravity and how we can trick them into thinking they are “weightless” like astronauts in spaceflight by using a slowly rotating device called a clinostat. This post is the first of DIY Clinostat instructions that may be useful for other students and home hobbyists interested in ground-based astrobotany research. […]

Read More DIY Clinostat: Retrofit a Tube Mixer

What Does Extracting RNA Look Like?

mRNA is all in the news these days, since it’s a key component of Covid vaccines. I’ve written before about how RNA functions, but that’s all very abstract. What does it actually look like to work with RNA? It’s very much like cooking with miniature equipment: tiny smoothie makers, tiny coffee filters, and very fast […]

Read More What Does Extracting RNA Look Like?

RNA is a Piece of Cake

Have you heard words like gene, DNA, and RNA thrown around, but aren’t quite sure what they mean? Are you fuzzy on the difference between a genome and transcriptome? Read on then. This post is for you, and I promise by the end, you will find that all those fancy sounding science terms are a […]

Read More RNA is a Piece of Cake

Lab Chores

“There’s much more dishwashing in science than the movies led me to believe,” exclaimed a colleague of mine. Never were truer words spoken. Many folks think that scientists spend their days stirring steaming beakers, messing with DNA, or poking at whirring machines. Indeed, I will do those things for my space botany project, but much […]

Read More Lab Chores

Laying the Groundwork

When I tell people that got a NC Space Grant Fellowship for plant biology research, the first question I get asked is “So when do your plants go to space?” When I reply, “They don’t. My plants will be in the lab,” I get quizzical looks. What most people don’t realize is that most space […]

Read More Laying the Groundwork

Yeast in Spaaace: Part 2

As I discussed in Part 1 of this blog series, I decided to launch my amateur exploration in space biology by sending up some mutant brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain HA1) in a high altitude balloon (HAB) with the help of NC Nearspace Research. I was hoping to replicate an experiment by Bernhard Beck-Winchatz and […]

Read More Yeast in Spaaace: Part 2